Panther-lair - Inside the numbers: Players to watch on Wake's defense
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Inside the numbers: Players to watch on Wake's defense

Much of the focus this week has been on Pitt's defense trying to stop Wake Forest's offense, but how do the Panthers match up when they have the ball?

Today we're taking a look at the Deacons' defense with stats and info from Pro Football Focus.

Wake Forest pressures/TFLs/sacks
Player #/Pos. Pressures TFL/Sacks

Rondell Bothroyd

40/DE

31

7.0/14.5

Luiji Vilain

2/DE

30

7.0/8.0

Miles Fox

11/DT

18

3.0/6.0

Jasheen Davis

30/DE

16

4.0/7.0

Luke Masterson

12/LB

15

2.5/11.0

Jacorey Johns

4/DE

12

2.5/4.0

Traveon Redd

17/S

10

1.5/2.0

- Wake Forest is No. 7 in the ACC in sacks with 32 - just under three per game. But the Deacons do have a few players who can generate pressure. Defensive end Rondell Bothroyd leads the team in sacks with seven, and he’s at the top of the list in pressures, too, with 31 through 12 games.

- Bothroyd is Wake’s second-highest graded defensive player, according to PFF, trailing only safety Traveon Redd.

- Bothroyd’s bookend on the defensive line is Luiji Vilain; he’s got 30 pressures and seven sacks himself, so the Deacons’ pass rush is heavily focused on those two players.

- Linebacker Luke Masterson only averages about one pressure per game, but he’s got 11 tackles for loss, second only to Bothroyd, who has 14.5 TFL on the season.

Wake Forest blitzing vs. ACC teams
Opponent Drop-backs Blitz/Blitz% Pressure/Pressure%

Florida State

30

4/13.3%

6/20%

Virginia

71

20/28.2%

24/33.8%

Louisville

30

10/33.3%

7/23.3%

Syracuse

40

13/32.5%

18/45%

Duke

30

7/23.3%

11/36.7%

North Carolina

37

11/29.7%

11/29.7%

N.C. State

62

21/33.9%

16/25,.8%

Clemson

20

8/40%

5/25%

Boston College

15

7/46.7%

7/46.7%

- Wake Forest hasn’t been a terribly heavy blitz team this season. According to PFF, the Deacons blitzed on 30.1% of their ACC opponent’s drop-backs, but they have used a variety of approaches. In the conference opener against Florida State, Wake Forest blitzed on 4-of-30 drop-backs (13.3%), but in the last two games against Clemson and Boston College, the Deacons blitzed on 15-of-35 drop-backs (42.8%).

- The three best quarterbacks Wake Forest faced this season were Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong, North Carolina’s Sam Howell and N.C. State’s Devin Leary; in those three games, the Deacons blitzed on 30.6% of the drop-backs.

- For comparison, Pitt’s opponents have blitzed Kenny Pickett on 36.1% of his drop-backs.

Wake Forest in coverage
Player Targets Receptions (%) Yds/TDs/INT

Ja'Sir Taylor

67

41 (61.2%)

624/5/2

Caelen Carson

39

19 (48.7%)

240/1/2

Traveon Redd

26

18 (69.2%)

203/0/3

Zion Keith

25

18 (72%)

274/5/0

Gavin Holmes

22

9 (40.9%)

149/2/0

Nick Andersen

20

14 (70%)

170/2/0

J.J. Roberts

19

11 (57.9%)

158/1/1

- One area to watch will be the deep passing game. Pickett has been excellent this season on passes of 20 yards or more, completing 36-of-67 - 53.7% - for 1,245 yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. Wake Forest’s ACC opponents have not been that successful, only completing 36.2% on passes of 20+ yards.

- Armstrong, Howell and Leary were a combined 12-of-39 - 30.8% - on passes of 20+ yards against Wake Forest.

- In coverage, cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor has seen the most action this season. Taylor has been targeted 67 times in 12 games and has given up 41 receptions (61.2%; for comparison, Pitt’s most targeted player, Erick Hallett, has allowed 66.3% completions this season).

- Taylor does have two interceptions this season, but he has also given up five touchdowns. Safety Zion Keith has also given up five scores, and he has done so on far fewer targets than Taylor. Keith has been targeted just 25 times and has allowed 18 receptions (72% completion) for 274 yards and five scores. He has played the bulk of his snaps in the slot, so Pitt will likely look to find matchups for Jordan Addison there.