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FILM ROOM: How A&M, wait no, Rutgers, can ground and pound a high flying Wake Forest team

Opposites attract in Gator Bowl Matchup

NCAA Football: Maryland at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M may not be going to the Gator Bowl, but our friends over at On the Banks apparently are, so in the name of not wasting content we’d already written helping out a friend, we thought we’d publish this film room breakdown of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

‘Tis the season for wild bowl games, and if the Texas A&M Aggies Rutgers Scarlet Knights aren’t careful with this explosive Wake Forest team, they could find themselves in a wild west shoot-out in the Gator Bowl, which is about the norm in Florida around the holidays… so buckle up!

This boils down to how their defense handles this high octane passing attack behind the arm of Sam Hartman, who ranks 7th in the nation in passing yards and 6th in passing TDs (3,924 yds, 36 TDs). The good news is when a team lives almost exclusively off the pass, it dies the same way… and there have been struggles. Wake Forest has thrown 15 interceptions and given up 32 sacks, and with the Aggies Scarlet Knights racking up 39 20 sacks of their own… the pass rush can really help our secondary this game.

I have broken down how this Elko-designed defense is based around winning on third down earlier this year, here is a more in-depth breakdown. Yes, Elko is heading to Duke, but there will be no major scheme changes for the bowl game. Winning third down will still be a factor in who wins this game on New Year’s Eve….morning. Wake Forest is 7th in the country converting third downs at a 48.8% clip, while the Aggies Scarlet Knights stay stout on 3rd down defense again this year, holding opponents to a conversion rate of 32.8% 32.1%.

Another interesting matchup within the matchup is Wake Forest’s top 10 red zone offense (91.9% scoring rate) vs the Aggies Scarlet Knights’ 7th 20th-ranked red zone defense (71% 75%).

All this talk about our defense vs the Demon Deacon offense is definitely on purpose… their defense is swiss cheese. Wake especially struggles against the run (115th - allowing 202 yards/gm) and has been gashed by several teams. Army, I know runs a triple option and can be tough to slow down….but to the tune of 416 yards and 56 points is a bit much for any Power 5 defense.

The best comp game I can find is vs Clemson, and those results should make all Aggies Scarlet Knights feel good because the Tigers punched them in the face and ran all over Wake Forrest. Clemson is in the same boat as TAMU Rutgers for a lot of the same reasons, a struggling/inconsistent offense with a young veteran quarterback but has been held together by a strong, talented mediocre defensive unit. In the Clemson v Wake Forest game, the Tiger defense forced 3 turnovers and 7 sacks to ground the high-powered offense to a halt. Clemson also out-rushed Wake 333 - 36 and that allowed their young QB to have a nice little day driving the bus (DJ Uiagalelei - 11/19 for 208yds, 1 TD) as Clemson cruised to a 48-27 win (WF scored two late touchdowns to make it look closer than reality). Texas A&M Rutgers has the same amount of firepower some players on defense and a strong running attack to duplicate and execute a similar type of game plan play vs Wake Forest. Regardless of who is under center for the Aggies Scarlet Knights, just run it and keep it simple/ play keep away.

Let’s look at the good, bad, and downright ugly film of their Gator Bowl opponent.


Sam Hartman can sling it and he has some weapons on the outside to sling it to... so that is scary. Both A.T. Perry and Jaquarii Roberson have over a thousand receiving yards, Perry is the big play guy averaging 19.1 yards catch and scoring 14 TDs. This team attacks vertically and will put pressure on the defense.

More of the same here, this time they do a little play fake... but they are still attacking up the field.

Wake does struggle in pass protection, but the Aggies Scarlet Knights have to make sure and finish their opportunities to get Hartman on the ground. As you can see here, the kid is talented and is always looking to attack, even if he is running for his life.

In another clip from the ACC championship game here, Wake has lots of weapons and Hartman trusts his guys in 1-on-1 matchups. The DBs need to be ready, they will have several opportunities to make plays.


As Aggie Scarlet Knight fans at times this year we have questioned why throw so much? Well, on Dec. 31 you will see what throwing the ball too much really looks like. Wake slings it and this passing attack is a two-edged sword for this team. Here is Hartman being too aggressive vs Clemson and the corner makes him pay.

Also, when you throw the rock this many times in a game, there are simply miscues and so many things that can go wrong. Wake had Pitt down early in the ACC title game before the turnover monster ate them alive. WR ran a comeback and the QB threw an out, the result was an easy INT and a big momentum swing.

The offensive line looks overpowered and as you will see in the next three clips as the pocket collapses. Even in some of the big plays Wake hits, you see Hartman getting rid of the ball as defenders are collapsing down on him. The Aggies Scarlet Knights pass rush should have another strong performance vs this overmatched O-Line.

The sacks came at crucial times as Wake was in these games vs good opponents, but their lack of balance can be too much to overcome vs good defenses.


This defense STRUGGLES, especially against the run... they're not exactly great vs the pass, but for A&M Rutgers, why even mess around. This is a chance to close out a frustrating season with a convincing win... just pound the rock.

Just so much room, the D-line is light, and the Maroon Goons [INSERT NICKNAME FOR RUTGERS OFFENSIVE LINE] should bully them!

There simply aren't defenders around, these backs don't have contact or someone in their face until 15-20 yards down the field, it's crazy.

This defense just seems to struggle and opponents find a lot of open spaces, here are a few passing plays that Pitt hit against them too. The scoring play is something A&M Rutgers loves to do, they used a Spiller wheel route throwback to their Left Tackle to beat Colorado Indiana earlier this year.

I like Texas A&M Rutgers in this matchup, coming off a tough loss at LSU vs. Maryland and wanting to end the season on a high. The plan is simple in my is not outrageous that Achane Isaih Pacheco and the stable of young backs have a monster day. Get after their star QB and make him have the coaching and players to make that happen! RUN. THE. DANG. BALL. THEN. REPEAT = WIN