Wake Forest (5-0) uses a variation of the option running game, which many outmanned teams do, to try and level the playing field. However, the offensive line of the Demon Deacons has developed a reputation over the years of using dirty tactics when going up against bigger and faster opponents.
Much like the NFL's Denver Broncos, who for years have had great rushing success and a reputation for being dirty, Wake Forest linemen are taught to cut-block, which is another term for going after knees and ankles of defenders.
There are times when it's legal to do and others when it's illegal to do, but both instances can end a player's season and maybe even a career if hit in the knee a certain way.
Rules state that if an offensive lineman is engaged with a defender, another offensive lineman can't come in and go for the legs. Wake Forest has found a loophole in that rule.
"The one thing that they do that is a little bit hard is the way they combo block," Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said. "If you're fighting off a reach-block and you're engaged in him, then they're going to say he's not engaged in you, and the guy (on the back side) is going to cut your legs. So you really don't have a chance to protect yourself."
The problem is everything that Koenning just described is legal. Sometimes Wake Forest may cross the line of decency, but it's still legal, nonetheless.
But legal doesn't make it right.
"I haven't seen too many times where (the Demon Deacons) haven't been within the letter of rule," Koenning said. "But I lost two kids when I was at Wyoming to that blocking scheme."
According to Koenning, there are proper ways and dirty ways to go after the legs of a big defensive lineman. You have to keep in mind that most defensive linemen aren't exactly nimble of foot, which makes it very difficult for them to avoid the oncoming low block.
"I think there's a huge difference between a chop and cut-block," he said. "If you're going through someone's thighs, that's one thing. But if you're action is to go down to chop knees to ankles, then you're trying to hurt somebody. But that's the way it us. And until they change that rule, that's just the way it is.
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