clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wake Forest 45, Vanderbilt 25: Still a long way to go

Saturday was a sign of progress, and also a sign of how far we still have to go.

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Box Score

Five Factors Vanderbilt Wake Forest
Five Factors Vanderbilt Wake Forest
Plays 60 66
Total Yards 294 453
Yards Per Play 4.90 6.86
Rushing Attempts 33 37
Rushing Yards 120 159
Rushing YPP 3.64 4.30
Passing Attempts 27 29
Passing Yards 174 294
Passing YPP 6.44 10.14
Rushing Success Rate 36.36% 43.24%
Passing Success Rate 40.74% 55.17%
Success Rate 38.33% 48.48%
Avg. Field Position 25.6 37.1
PP40 6.25 5.43
Turnovers 3 1

This is the rare edition of the Statistical in which I’m going in blind and just going off the stat sheet, because I haven’t watched the game from start to finish yet (as I’m typing this, I’m on the second quarter of the replay.) Now, that’s a lie; there have been at least a couple of games that I turned off in the middle of the third quarter in an “enough of this shit” kind of way, but this time I couldn’t actually watch yesterday’s game, and you can blame that on whatever nonsensical international agreements make it such that you cannot simply use your Hulu subscription to watch the SEC Network on your phone in Mexico.

(I mean, yesterday would have been a great day to sit around and watch college football considering the monsoon conditions in Cancun meant that I was basically stuck in the hotel room all day. Instead, I watched tennis, because that’s what ESPN shows in Mexico on a Saturday in September.)

Anyway, Saturday was both a sign that the program is pretty obviously headed in the right direction — yes, Wake Forest is a good team, and Vanderbilt at least belonged on the field with them which is more than you could say for last year’s team or the bulk of the Derek Mason era — and also a sign that it still has a long way to go. The Commodores would have had to play something close to a perfect game to beat Wake Forest and, well, three turnovers — all of them deep in Vanderbilt’s own territory, all of them leading directly to Wake Forest touchdowns — isn’t it.

There’s your final margin right there, though. That’s not to say that Vanderbilt would have truly been in position to win without the turnovers — remember, the Commodores scored two garbage time touchdowns after A.J. Swann came on in relief of Mike Wright (more on that in a minute) — but you also don’t have to squint too hard to see that possibility. And the defensive numbers don’t really do the defense justice, either, since a lot of Wake Forest’s damage in terms of success rate came late.

(Also, as I’m typing now, Clark Lea is getting very animated about a no-call on what looked like a pretty obvious late hit with targeting against Mike Wright. The dude is mature enough to know when to show emotion.)

Individual Stats

Passing stats

Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Success Rate YPP
Passing Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Success Rate YPP
Mike Wright 8 14 57.14% 35 0 1 0 0 35 4 28.57% 2.5
A.J. Swann 8 11 72.73% 146 2 0 1 7 139 7 58.33% 11.6

A very bad, no-good day for Mike Wright, but no, I don’t think we have a full-blown Quarterback Controversy here yet, and it’s not entirely because A.J. Swann got the benefit of putting up those numbers against Wake Forest’s second string.

But I do think that my assessment of the situation remains the same as it was entering the season: A.J. Swann is the guy of the future, “the future” might come before the end of 2022, but it probably won’t come before the Missouri game on October 22. Why not? Well, look at the three-game stretch that precedes that: at Alabama, Ole Miss, at Georgia. Do you want a true freshman dealing with Alabama and Georgia? Does A.J. Swann give you a better chance of winning those games than Mike Wright does? My timetable for when a quarterback switch happens might have moved up by a game, and that’s only because I thought they might want to preserve Swann’s redshirt; since that was clearly never under consideration, then, starting him for the final five games is a real possibility. But it likely also means that we have at least four more games with Wright as the starter barring injury. And it does mean that Wright could play well enough to keep the gig until the end of the season. What you really don’t want to do here is burn the Program Savior card, watch Swann struggle, and have fans clamoring for Wright to come back.

Rushing stats

Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Rushing Att Yds YPA TD Success Rate
Ray Davis 17 87 5.1 1 47.06%
Mike Wright 8 17 2.1 0 25.00%
Chase Gillespie 4 7 1.8 0 25.00%
Cooper Lutz 2 5 2.5 0 0.00%
Jayden McGowan 1 4 4.0 0 100.00%

Not really a ton to write about here. Ray Davis had a good, workmanlike day on the ground, Mike Wright’s struggles weren’t limited to the passing game (note, too, that one of the running plays that the model deemed successful actually resulted in a turnover), and the absence of Rocko Griffin and Patrick Smith continues to be notable. Really, I want at least one of those two back to take some of the burden off Davis.

Receiving stats

Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
Receiving Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
Will Sheppard 7 4 45 1 57.14% 6.4 11.3 57.14%
Ray Davis 5 5 21 0 100.00% 4.2 4.2 40.00%
Jayden McGowan 4 3 56 0 75.00% 14.0 18.7 50.00%
Justin Ball 2 1 36 0 50.00% 18.0 36.0 50.00%
Gavin Schoenwald 2 1 7 1 50.00% 3.5 7.0 50.00%
Cooper Lutz 1 1 27 0 100.00% 27.0 27.0 100.00%
Mike Wright 1 1 -11 0 100.00% -11.0 -11.0 0.00%
Quincy Skinner 1 0 0 0 0.00% 0.0 #DIV/0! 0.00%
Ben Bresnahan 1 0 0 0 0.00% 0.0 #DIV/0! 0.00%

Right now, I just really, really want to know what the circumstances were that led to Mike Wright being credited with a catch on a pass that he threw.


Like I said above, I don’t think this was a bad day for the defense, even though it gave up 38 points — 14 of those were the result of short fields. Christian James notched a sack and also got credited with a quarterback hurry, the defensive backfield had seven pass breakups (including two by Jeremy Lucien, who’d been surprisingly quiet for the first two weeks of the season), and true freshman Bradley Mann had a tackle for loss. Anfernee Orji and Max Worship remain the rocks of the defense.

Participation Report

So, we’re three games into the season and now we’ve got our second true freshman to start: defensive lineman Darren Agu picked up his first start on Saturday, joining Jayden McGowan (who’s started all three games.) Quincy Skinner returned after missing last Saturday’s game, though he didn’t have much of an impact, and Yilanan Outtara made his first appearance. Still out: Julian Hernandez, whose absence can’t be helping the offensive line.

What’s Next

Vanderbilt travels to Northern Illinois at 2:30 PM CT on Saturday. This isn’t that bad of a matchup for the Commodores — NIU is 1-1 with the win coming by a touchdown over FCS Eastern Illinois and the loss coming at Tulsa on Saturday by a 38-35 score — and this remains a tossup game for Vanderbilt, probably the last game this season you can call that with a straight face. Figure out how to watch CBS Sports Network if you didn’t already figure that out to watch the Hawaii game.