Wake fans should be ecstatic for the home game against Notre Dame on Saturday. Not only is the game sold out, but Notre Dame is also coming in as one of the most hyped teams in the country (ranked #8), I really think the Deacs have a chance to pull out an upset for the ages. Here's how we can topple Notre Dame:
1. Mistake-free footballGiphy
It is crucial that quarterback Sam Hartman does not keep making freshman mistakes as he did against both Tulane and Boston College. He needs to go through all of his reads correctly and make sure that his receivers are very open before passing to them. He should be looking to sophomore star receiver Greg Dortch the whole game, especially if Notre Dame is in man defense because he is the only receiver on the team who can consistently create separation from defenders.
If Notre Dame strictly plays zone defense, which they have been known to do, Hartman should just to complete a lot of short routes that keep drives going. It would be an issue if he kept forcing throws deep down the field because then, Notre Dame would have a chance to force a few turnovers.
2. Maintain disciplined defenseGiphy
The big downfall of the Deacs so far this season has been big-play defense. Against Tulane, Terren Encalade caught two big touchdowns over the top of Wake's iffy secondary. Boston College and its quarterback Anthony Brown consistently carved up the Deacs for long touchdowns after long touchdowns.
It will be crucial that no one on Notre Dame gets past our secondary because if someone is even close to open deep, ND quarterback Brandon Wimbush is known to air the ball out. Michigan thought they routinely were covering Notre Dame well, especially in the end zone, but Wimbush continued to throw the ball deep successfully. The Deacs need to make sure that they are very disciplined while defending the long ball.
3. Contain WimbushGiphy
Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush is an electrifying runner with the ball in his hands, which is especially important coming from the quarterback position. However, he is a very inconsistent passer. He has a very impressive arm and likes to throw it deep, but he is prone to make a few mistakes here and there.
The key with the linebackers for Wake is to make sure he can't run too often and make him throw the ball. Eventually, he will make a mistake and throw an interception on a short route. The key to Notre Dame's offense is Wimbush's legs, and if the Deacs contain him, then we have a chance.
4. A few big plays from DortchGiphy
Greg Dortch, a potential All-American player at both receiver and punt returner, is so quick and electrifying with or without the ball in his hands. He is one of the best punt returners in the country, and he is a threat to return it every time to the end zone. If he returned one for a touchdown against ND, it would get the crowd going into a frenzy, and give the Deacs momentum for the rest of the game. He will also need to gain a lot of yards through the air, and hopefully, will be able to break a couple receptions loose for big gains.
5. Crowd supportGiphy
When the crowd goes crazy, the team gets hyped up even more. There's nothing better than hearing the chants of "Wake!" from one side of the stadium and "Forest!" from the other. And when our fight song plays, the Irish's loyal sons are going to go marching back to South Bend. Get ready Coach Kelly, the Deacs are hungry this week. GO DEACS!