The Deacs (2-0) showed ample improvement on the offensive side of the ball last week in a 24-14 victory in Durham over Duke.
The Blue Hens (2-0) invade BB&T Field tonight, riding an offense that's generating more than 300 yards on the ground per game. After shutting out Duke's rushing attack last week, limiting them to just 37 yards rushing, the Wake Forest defense will face another stern test.
Here are the two keys to a Wake Forest victory.
Win first down on defense
There's no secret — Delaware will NOT abandon the run game the same way Duke did in the 2nd half last week. They will run, run, run. . . then run some more. Look for just 10-15 passing attempts total the entire game from the Blue Hens, and most of those will be play action looks. The Wake defensive backs will have to keep the wide receivers honest, for sure.
But the biggest key for the Wake defense will be holding serve on Delaware first downs. If the Deacs continuously keep the Blue Hens to second-and-seven or worse, they have a good chance of getting off the field. If the Blue Hens carve up yardage on first down, they are liable to move the changes repeatedly, burn up the game clock, wear down the Wake defense and put themselves in prime position for the upset.
To limit Delaware's rushing attack and win the game, the Demon Deacon defense will need to consistently win on first down.
There may have been many fans that counted this week as an automatic win for the Deacs, but there wasn't a sense that the team fell for that trap. We'll find out for sure at 6:30 tonight.
The Wake coaching staff as an extreme amount of respect for the Delaware program, and a lot of that has to do with their collective roots. Offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero was a quarterback at Delaware, where he graduated and was later a grad assistant. Wake defensive line coach Dave Cohen spent nearly a decade on the Blue Hen sidelines, ultimately as a defensive coordinator.
Then, Wake head coach Dave Clawson competed regularly against Delaware when he coach at Fordham and Richmond as part of the Atlantic-10 and CAA,
There's little doubt the coaching staff has taken this game seriously, and based solely upon practice observations, it's safe to conclude the team has as well. We are dealing with a Wake Forest team dominated by freshmen and sophomores, so we'll see early just how focused they are.
Last week's win over Duke means much less if the Deacs come out flat today and stub their toe against Delaware. If they stay focus and put together 60 minutes of solid football, they should be able to handle business effectively.