[private]Duke fell to 1-4 in the ACC and 4-5 overall with a disappointing loss to neighboring rival N.C. State on Saturday afternoon. When it counted redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Wilson and the Pack executed while Duke couldn't do the same.
Well, actually Duke did execute between the twenties, but once again the red zone offense failed to take advantage of key opportunities. One was a bungled exchange from center to quarterback which caused the timing for a wide open touch down to be just a second off.
Then there was a running play where the back stopped moving his legs and driving. But it wasn't all on the offense. Time and time again, the Duke secondary got beat when the chips were on the table. In fact, they made the talented Wilson look even better. The frustrating thing for our coaches is that they were in position to make the plays, but either jumped too soon or had their back turned to the play.
In short, all that could go wrong did on this day. Duke went into the game expecting to win, but the Pack seemed to have an edge or sense of urgency early on and it took the Devils a few series to match the intensity. If you were to point to one play of the many which could have made the game closer, it would be the return of a kickoff for a touchdown after a field goal knotted the game at 3-3.
As disappointed as many fans were leaving the game as the fourth quarter started, Duke was a lot closer than it looked early on. In fact a look at the stats makes one realize that things just didn't click, for Duke rolled up 400 yards of offense and Thad Lewis was incredibly accurate.
Perhaps the most painful thing from a fans standpoint, was that N.C. State red was all over the place. IMO, Duke fans didn't turn out as I would have expected. I can't give the students a pass in this one for the stands were empty save the hard cores and band at games start.
Much has been made of late about student apathy in Cameron and on Saturday it carried over into Wade. For the first time this season, I visited the students party in the parking lot on the west side. It was quite the party, and they were second to none in their revelry. I thought to myself, if we have this crowd of wild ones in the stands in their various outfits, we'll be ready.
As game time came around, very few of the of the crazily Christmas outfitted under grads made it over. Some were obviously too toasted. While they in no way had a part in the loss, they did remind many how far we have to go to change the culture. On a day when we were playing a rival, the message seemed lost in the mail and too many were into the extra curricular activities to be bothered by supporting the team. I mean, I thought that is why they were partying, but I now know I am wrong.
That said, I hope the students realize how much the players need them there in the future. Heck, I need them there as a fan. I can't tell you how much they added to the James Madison game, but the reasoning for not showing up on Saturday obviously perplexes me. And it was not only at the game, but the Blue Devils Walk where I counted a grand total of 40 students throughout the quad.
Despite all of the disappointments, Cutcliffe still has the program on the right track. A big part of the puzzle will be recruiting success and the many who were there should see not only the direction the program is going in, but the opportunity to make a mark early.
Other than that, we need to continue to work on the culture collectively and despite the Thanksgiving break versus North Carolina, I hope the students who stay commit themselves to their classmates for the last home game. Duke needs your support and we all want you to help us with this pursuit of a true ACC Football atmosphere.[/private]