If you are looking for signs from Thursday night’s Wake Forest scrimmage as to how the Demon Deacons’ season will go, don’t. Depending on what analysis you peruse, the scrimmage was balanced. Or it was a defense-dominated performance save a handful of big plays by the offense. Or it showed how good the offense can be when it needs to be. The bottom is the Wake scrimmage is what it is, as they wind down Fall practice this weekend and head to game prep.
The first half of the night was spent going through the routine drills and positional workouts, in addition, to kick returns.
Defense Dominates Early
Once they got into live scrimmaging, the defense dominated early. Since no official stats were given, the media that was there to cover it put together a cooperative effort to keep the key numbers. The one that matters here is the unofficial nine sacks by the defense. To be fair, they were as many tags as real sacks since the quarterback is off limits. Still, it was a sign that the defense, the line in particular was living in the Wake offensive backfield.
Whatever the total was, there was no disputing that Rondell Bothroyd had three of them. He playfully acknowledged that he was surprised the officials blew the whistle as quickly as they did on a couple of them. Let’s face it. With Sam Hartman out for an indefinite period of time, there is no such thing as being overprotective of Mitch Griffis’ health.
Bothroyd described the new defense under defensive coordinator Brad Lambert. “It’s fun. It’s aggressive,” he said after the scrimmage. “I’ve said a bunch of times, you have to be more aggressive. And I feel like that showed today. We’ve all got the full game plan in. So all we are doing now is we’ve got to execute.”
His assessment of the game goes towards a balanced storyline. “In the beginning, the defense was dominant. But then they got rolling and the offense did what they did. And then it just kept going back and forth.”
Chase Jones, Kobie Turner, Dylan Hazen, and Kendron Wayman were also credited with sacks on the night. Jasheen Davis and Dion Bergan, Jr. also shared a sack.
Offense Catches Up Late
The offense also put itself in a bind early with discipline penalties. There were at least three false starts and a couple of holding penalties as the offensive line was trying to fend off the aggressive pass rush.
Once the offense did get rolling, it was a flurry of big plays. Griffis, while dodging the oncoming rush, was unofficially 12 of 15 passing for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Kern was unofficially eight of 13 for 111 yards.
Donavon Greene had three receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Head coach Dave Clawson of course will garner a greater level of depth on the scrimmage once he watches the tape. But his immediate sense at the end of the night was…” balanced.” He said, “Sometimes the difference between a good scrimmage for the offense and the defense is a few explosive plays. The defense had momentum, and then Donavon Greene made two really big-time plays that flipped the field and led to scores.”
He liked what he saw out of the defense early on. “I thought the pass rush was really effective, and those guys have been doing a great job all camp.”
Of course part of the challenge in a scrimmage like this, when one side dominates the other for even a section of the live action, what does that mean? Was the defensive line that good? Was the offensive line that bad? A lot is riding on the offensive line with so much experience being counted on to protect the inexperienced Griffis in the pocket. The offensive was missing Michael Jurgens who was out for the night. Clawson said he is expected back next week when Wake transitions from camp to game prep for week one.
But even for acknowledging the balance, Clawson gave credit to Bothroyd and others. “I thought Rondell Bothroyd looked great,” he said. “That position for us has always been a big-time position. To me, today he played like he’s starting to get to that level.” While still trying to look at the balance he professed, Clawson joked, “You’re happy if you’re anyone but our O-Line coach.”
As for the position that is on everyone’s radar with Hartman’s absence, Clawson was very pleased with Griffis’ performance. “I thought he was a lot more settled,” Clawson said as he discussed the progression from nine days ago when Griffis found out he was going to be the starter to Thursday night. “I just think every time Mitch is out there with the ones, he gets a little more comfortable.”
The Demon Deacons will have one more practice this weekend before going to game prep.