WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake’s Thursday night offensive statistics against Tulane are absolutely mind boggling.
The Deacs had just 175 yards of total offense, were 12-of-21 passing for 96 yards and rushed for just 79 yards on 34 attempts. That’s the second-lowest production in the air during the Clawson era.
What makes the performance that much more quixotic is that the Wake offense has generally played well against its well-regarded defense all through camp.
The vertical passing game that went 0-for-8 against Tulane Thursday night has been a reliable weapon in August practice after practice.
“I thought our passing game clicked really well through summer and training camp, but today we didn’t get as many passes completed as we wanted. We have a lot to work on,” Wake quarterback Kendall Hinton said. “The Tulane corners played a good game. We didn’t get open on deep balls and didn’t connect like I thought we should have. In training camp, that went great. We just need to hit the film room and see where we can improve on our deep threat.”
Wolford felt the disappointing performance was an anomaly.
“If you’ve watched our offense through camp, you’d say that what happened out there was an anomaly,” Wake starting quarterback John Wolford said. “We’ve hit them all through camp against a very good defense.
“We won the game, which is great, but the offense has to play better. I think there were a few deep balls that were an inch away from being caught. We have to find a way to make plays. No excuses.”
Many frustrated fans are questioning the creativity of the Wake offensive gameplan, and others are hoping beyond hope that they left some things off the table as to not give much away going into the Duke game next Saturday.
But the Deacs tried to stretch the field vertically, and they showed looks with both Wolford and Kendall Hinton in the game at the same time. It’s just that nothing worked. Once the Deacs couldn’t make the Green Wave pay deep in those one-on-one matchups, it became that much tougher to run the ball against a loaded box.
“I keep going back to the same thing. If a defense is going to play nickel and spread out against you, you better be able to run it. If a team is going to load the box and play press man, you have to get open on the outside,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “We didn’t win those matchups. You throw deep balls and those guys have to make those plays.”
Yet others, including the quarterbacks themselves, wondered if the constant juggling in and out under center affected their ability to get in a rhythm.
“We want to get in a rhythm. We both do. It seemed at times that we weren’t getting in one,” Wolford said. “Obviously, he’s (Hinton) a very dynamic player, and I think I can make plays as well. We both want to get on the field. One of us needs to get it rolling. Whatever the coaches see as best for us to win games, I’m good with. That’s really all I care about.”
Hinton voiced the same concern and focus when asked after the win.
“It can get tough to find a rhythm,” he said. “But it’s the coach’s decision, and he feels like I provide more of a run threat and John (Wolford) is more of a pocket passer. I guess we complement each other. We will work on trying to find a medium in there.”
Beyond the frustration comes a deep yearning.
“I just want this team to win,” Wolford said. “They’ve worked so hard and have been through a lot. It’s time for us to win games.”