Even with the offense refusing to move the ball throughout the first half of the Wake Forest game on Saturday afternoon, the defense held strong and ultimately kept the Orange in the game until Eric Dungey took over in the second half.
The Demon Deacons actually took a 17-13 lead into halftime, but it would have been a lot more lopsided if not for the defensive effort. Aided by an interception from linebacker Paris Bennett and a pick-six from defensive end Donnie Simmons, the Orange went into the locker room within striking distance. This marked the second straight game that SU pick-sixed Wake. Corey Winfield intercepted a third pass to end the game in the fourth quarter, too.
In the second half, the defense seemed to elevate its game even higher, perhaps inspired by the offense’s big plays. Wake Forest didn’t score after halftime and wasn’t even close to scoring position after missing a field goal to open the second half. Over the next four drives, the Orange defense only allowed an average of 12.5 yards per drive.
Throughout the afternoon, defensive ends Ron Thompson and Bennett were huge factors for the Orange. For four quarters, the two harassed a weak Wake Forest offensive line and helped the unit ultimately tally four sacks. When they weren’t bringing opposing quarterback John Wolford to the turf, they were forcing him out of the pocket and made the sophomore attempt some very difficult throws.
One reason that Wolford was able to put up decent numbers was the total ineffectiveness of the running game. The Orange held the Demon Deacons to just 46 yards rushing on 32 attempts, which resulted in Wolford attempting 45 throws. The Orange’s first two opponents have been held to a combined 50 yards rushing through two games.
SU will take this first ACC win into the Dome next weekend, where it will square off with Central Michigan. Defensively, fans should want to see a repeat of the second half of yesterday’s game. The unit should work on limiting yards because Wake actually outgained the Orange 419-370. Other than that, if the defense replicates its output, the Orange should be 3-0 heading into the LSU game.