Well, that was something. I would say entertaining at least for sure, but more frustrating. With over 500 yards of offense and 27 points allowed, this game was ripe for the taking. I don’t know how many folks that we could actually win this game, but it became very winnable, making it all the more heartbreaking. This was a hard fought loss against a good team, make no mistake. Wake Forest’s two big wins [prior to this one] were against a UNC team that was on the brink of upsetting Clemson were it not for an ugly two-point play, and a Utah State team led by a legit quarterback in Jordan Love who could hear his name called on day one when it’s all said and done. Wake dominated the Tar Heels until a fourth quarter surge, and the Aggies ended last season in the top 25 with a top 10 offense (see how they fare against LSU this week before dismissing this).
But who cares about that. For all the talk of a hard-fought loss, the problem with this game was that the errors that plagued this team were almost exclusively mental. From momentum-killing offensive pre-snap penalties to bungled time management and execution, these errors fall on the coaching staff.
Anthony Brown had his first interceptions of the season, turning the ball over twice. The second was on fourth down in field goal range. I somewhat liked the idea to go for it, but since the team hadn’t held the lead all game, I was a bit surprised and perhaps it could have been the difference. The turnovers obviously did not help, but Brown played well enough to win the game. He is who he is, and there isn’t much more to say about it right now.
The icing on the cake was surely the delay of game penalty prior to the field goal that would have tied the game at 20. The ensuing botched snap&hold and Grossel desperation heave, didn’t even give us the chance to complain about how we can’t kick a field goal to save our lives. How selfish! Worst of all, we were this close to getting our tossed headset moment of the game. Props to Boumerhi though, because the nullified 44-yarder looked like a thing of beauty.
The offense was just terrible on third downs (2-12), as they had been last season, and the defense incapable of stopping them (17-24). Practice must be a joy. There were six penalties in all, but they couldn’t have happened at worse times. Some were overcome, but others stalled drives and likely hurt the offense’s flow.
The defense did a relatively decent job containing Newman. Half of his 100 yards on the ground were from one run early in the game. Since it hasn’t been mentioned enough, his cousin John Lamot played excellent, as did Max Richardson both leading the way in total tackles. The defense ended with two sacks, seven hurries, and a handful of qb hits. The Eagles did a much better job bringing pressure, but time after time they couldn’t get off the field because of soft coverage on those third downs. The height mismatch was on full display at times, but freshman DB Jason Maitre came in and really held his own. We even saw a fortuitous Mike Palmer interception.
I would be remiss not to mention another stellar performance from AJ Dillon (Bailey too!). Three straight 150+ yard efforts is fantastic, especially with everyone coming knowing stopping him is their primary goal. The Bailey pass also showed that little bit of flair that keeps showing up on offense, which is a really pleasant sign.
The Eagles are 3-2 now. It’s college football and it’s BC; six wins, followed by a bowl win(!) are definitely on the table. There are five very much winnable games of the seven remaining. The team will need to continue to improve to come out on top in a few of these, but they are more than capable. Whether the coaching staff can unlock this potential and play consistently remains to be seen.