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Wake Forest's defense heroically holds steady while its offense reaches new lows

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Clawson could use a hug by now, I'm sure. Wake Forest is not only losing, it's losing in a way that provides almost no entertainment value. I mean, sometimes you have to take what little things you can find in an otherwise lost season, but the Deacs aren't offering much of anything as consolation.

That's because Wake has arguably the worst offense in FBS--and one that is no doubt worse than some FCS offenses as well. Bill Connelly's advanced stats rate a couple of FBS offenses lower than Wake, which is difficult to imagine. In terms of raw production (yards per play, total offense), nobody's been worse.

Wake Offense Off. S&P+ (national rank) Yds/Play
(national rank)
(national rank)
Yds/Pass Att.
(national rank)
2014 74.9 (126 out of 128)
3.2 (128) 1.0 (128) 5.4 (125)
2013 79.8 (111) 4.4 (120) 3.0 (119) 5.7 (118)

And we're talking about a historically poor level. Wake Forest is not simply last at 3.2 yards per play, it is super way last. The team that ranks 127 in YPP, SMU, averages nearly four yards per snap.


In the total offense category, the Deacs are averaging a shade over 200 yards per game, more than 62 yards behind the team that ranks next-to-last. Wake Forest is just on an entirely different tier of ineffectiveness. This is not football, it's sorrow.

I looked back through's archive, which dates to 2008, and in terms of YPP, Wake's 2014 offense is the worst on record. Usually approaching 4.0 YPP means hitting the bottom of the barrel: the second-least productive offenses over this time belong to 2008 UCF and 2013 FIU, which both averaged 3.62 yards per play.

So nobody in the last six years has finished a full season under 3.6 YPP. Again, Wake is at 3.2. Let's have a look at conference play shall we--- MOTHER OF GOD THE CARNAGE. I actually recommend not clicking that link. The numbers contained therein are so, um, unnatural that looking at them may put a hex or something on you. Alls I'm sayin' is, if you take a peek and then happen to tear both of your ACLs while sleeping tonight, don't say I didn't warn you.

The Deacs are getting 2.6 YPP and 155 total yards of offense on average. Three times they have been held near or below two yards per play. Three times! Are there enough exclamation points in this piece yet! I feel like probably not!

The problem, of course, is that everything is a problem. Everything would have to be. You can't be this terrible if you have stuff that's not broke all to hell. Every bit of this scrap heap of a two-deep is broke as hell. (Metaphorically speaking, for the most part.) Offensive line don't work. Quarterback might be a lemon, as its setting is stuck in the low power position; darn thing quits every other series and when it is on it hardly moves.

Wake Forest isn't bothering anybody vertically, which makes playing defense against the Deacs a whole lot easier. Wake has had 18 plays from scrimmage go for 20+ yards and only five that have gone for more than 30; in the former category, they rank dead last nationally.

The shame of all this for Wake is that its defense has been okay. Not great, but certainly competent enough to get the team to a bowl game in some alternate universe where the offense is half-decent.

Wake Defense Def. S&P+ (national rank) Yds Allowed/Play
(national rank)
Yds Allowed/Rush
(national rank)
Yds Allowed/Pass Att.
(national rank)
2014 101.0 (58)
5.2 (40) 4.2 (67) 6.4 (34)
2013 115.1 (34)
5.0 (22) 3.7 (28) 6.4 (18)

They haven't given up a ton of ground from 2013 to this season, but the offense has made their respectable effort nearly moot. This team hasn't scored more than 24 points in a game all year, and the 20 they put up against Clemson was their season-high in league games. There's absolutely no margin for error on the defensive end; they'd essentially need this once-in-a-decade sort of defensive production just to break even from a yardage perspective.

The positive take on Saturday's game from the Wake perspective is that the Deacons are good enough defensively to frustrate NC State's offense. The Pack's been derailed by lesser defensive units and has not scored more than 24 points in a game since September.

So it's safe to say confidence in the Wolfpack offense is low already. There are self-inflicted reasons for the lackluster point production, in addition to Jacoby Brissett's iffy accuracy of late. I would not be surprised to see an unpleasantly low-scoring affair unfold this weekend.