Talking Points: Horror on the road
Posted October 6, 2013
1. A tip of the cap to Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe. Perhaps the win over NC State will act as a cold splash of water to the face of dissenters in Winston-Salem.
Grobe, despite a career 76-77 record at Wake Forest (historically excellent) and home dominance against in-state opponents, has been dragged into the angst-filled debate over athletics director Ron Wellman. A group of disgruntled fans planned on flying a "Fire Wellman" banner over Groves Stadium, but the flight was scuttled when the ad company couldn't find a pilot. Those who chipped in for the aerial display obviously find the last minute cancellation curious. I'll chalk it up to karma.
Keep the Wellman debate focused on the real issue: Basketball.
While the Demon Deacons have missed out on bowls three out of the last four years, the return to orbit following their 2006 ACC Championship season coincides with traditional powers of the conference snapping out of their comatose state. Grobe is doing his job as long as Wake Forest remains competitive with the middle-tier of the ACC and hovers around bowl eligibility. Expectations beyond that simply aren't based in reality.
2. New coach and new players, but the Wolfpack continue to be vexed at Wake Forest. NC State hasn't won in Winston-Salem since 2001 and it makes sense when considering the lean years following the graduation of Philip Rivers.
What's befuddling about the house of horrors at Wake Forest is that legitimately good squads have been tripped by the Demon Deacons. In 2003, a Rivers-led Pack crash and burned a week before their hyped showdown with Ohio State. In 2009, Russell Wilson had his NCAA record interception-free streak end with a couple picks.
Head coach Dave Doeren added to the head-scratchers with his decision to have quarterback Pete Thomas punt from the Wake Forest 35-yard line instead of giving kicker Niklas Sade an opportunity to put points on the board. The Deacs punched it in with a Tanner Price rushing touchdown on the following drive.
The Wolfpack eventually took a 10-7 lead with just under a minute to go before halftime, but defensive breakdowns resulted in Wake Forest taking back the lead before the break. Price made quick work in just 33 seconds with a 56-yard pass to Spencer Bishop and a 10-yard touchdown pass to Michael Campanaro.
Wake Forest continued to set the tone after the break with a 10-play touchdown drive following an excellent punt from Will Baumann that put the Deacs on their own 13-yard line.
3. The good news for North Carolina's defense? It wasn't a dumpster fire against Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels actually made stops against the Hokies, forcing six punts and five three-and-outs.
The bad news? North Carolina continues to give up game-changing plays thanks to coverage woes.
Virginia Tech first struck with 4:50 left in opening quarter when Logan Thomas found Demitri Knowles wide open down the middle for 45-yard touchdown. Then Thomas' found D.J. Coles open in the endzone for a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The back-breaker came on the first play of the Hokies' final drive of the first half. Pinned on their own 2-yard line, Willie Byrn got behind the North Carolina secondary and Thomas hit him in stride for an 83-yard gain. Thomas hooked up with Coles for another touchdown four plays later.
4. North Carolina continues to be plagued by undisciplined play and a disturbing lack of attention to detail.
The Tar Heels were penalized 11 times for 79 yards. A third touchdown was taken off the board in as many weeks thanks to an illegal block on Ryan Switzer's punt return. Switzer also contributed to a "Beamer Ball" moment when he muffed a punt, which resulted in another Virginia Tech touchdown.
Then there was TE/LB Jack Tabb, who just came off a two-game suspension for violating team rules only to get ejected late in the game. Tabb didn't take kindly to having his helmet ripped off during kickoff coverage and took a swing. Immediate ACC Network replays didn't catch the incident, but officials caught the ruckus and sent Tabb to the locker room.
Tabb might be live-tweeting North Carolina's Thursday night contest against Miami on October 17th.
5. All things considered, quarterback Marquise Williams did a decent job against a stout Virginia Tech defense. He settled down after a slow opening quarter and finished the afternoon with 277 yards on 23-of-35 passing. Williams threw a couple touchdowns to go along with a couple interceptions.
The second pick was came on a 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter with the game still within reach. It was a good play-call, but Williams under-threw it just enough for Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller to make an excellent defensive play.