ACC – Big Ten Challenge Preview: Wisconsin Badgers

DukeDuke (6-0) takes on the Wisconsin Badgers (4-1) in the 11th annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge on December 2nd, in their first true road game of the young season. The two teams last faced each other two years ago with the Blue Devils pounding the Badgers 82 – 58. In last year’s event, Duke defeated Purdue 76 – 60, while Wisconsin beat Virginia Tech 74 – 72. Duke has a perfect 10 – 0 record in the challenge, while Wisconsin is 4 – 6.

Wisconsin is coming off a 20 – 13 season where they advanced to the NCAA tournament before falling to Xavier 60 – 49 in the second round.

Coach Bo Ryan will rely upon a pair of senior guards to lead his team, Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. Both players started all 33 games last season and averaged 12.1 and 10.3 points per game respectively. Across the front line, Wisconsin is big and athletic. Junior Jon Leuer (6-10, 225) started 12 games and averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds as a sophomore. Junior Keaton Nankivil (6-8, 240) started 20 games and averaged 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds last season. Several players will compete to be the fifth starter: redshirt freshman Ryan Evans (6-6, 195), sophomore Rob Wilson (6-4, 175), and junior Tim Jarmusz (6-6, 210).

The reports coming out of Madison indicate this year’s team will look to push the ball up the floor in order to force a more up tempo game pace. Wisconsin has traditionally played a grind it out style with emphasis on defense. During pick-up games over the summer, Wisconsin players were practicing with a 25 second shot clock to discourage the tendency to walk the ball up the court.

Through the season’s first five games, the Badgers are averaging 67.4 points per game while holding their opponents to 58.2 points so the early season games do not provide any evidence the Badgers have actually changed their style. Wisconsin’s one loss was to Gonzaga, 74 – 61, in the semi-finals of the Maui Invitational. The Badgers rebounded by defeating Maryland, 78 – 69, in the 3rd Place game.

The media has predicted Wisconsin will finish 9th in the Big Ten this season, but no Bo Ryan coached Wisconsin team has ever finished worse than 4th. This will surely be bulletin board material for the Badgers and there would be no better way to silence the media doubters than an early season defeat of Duke so the Badgers will be motivated when the Blue Devils arrive at the Kohl Center.

For the Blue Devils, this will be their first true road game of the season. With a hostile crowd cheering on the Badgers, Duke’s players must keep their emotions in check and execute Coach Krzyzewski’s game plan. Playing in big games is old hat for Duke so the experienced Blue Devils should have no problem coping with the atmosphere in Madison.

The keys to the game will be:

1. Duke must contain speedy point guard Trevon Hughes. Duke cannot allow Hughes to dictate the game so it is imperative Nolan Smith plays solid defense and avoids foul trouble. The Smith – Hughes match-up will be critical to the outcome of this contest. Hughes is averaging 14.2 points per game this season.

2. Duke’s inside players must equal Wisconsin’s physicality. Duke has more depth on the interior so Miles Plumlee, Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas, and Ryan Kelly must take advantage by attacking the basket and drawing fouls. This game represents a second straight litmus test for Duke’s assertion they are a bigger team this season. Duke’s big men must play big against the Badgers, like they did in the win over the UConn Huskies, and out rebound the Badgers.

3. The team that takes better care of the basketball will gain an advantage. In games with slower tempo, it is imperative to not lose scoring opportunities. Duke has 99 assists against 66 turnovers through six games with guard Jon Scheyer leading the way with an 8:1 assists/turnover ratio. The Badgers have 61 assists against 60 turnovers in five games.

4. Exploiting Kyle Singler’s versatility and capitalizing on mismatches. Singler is an All America quality player who had subpar offensive performances during Duke’s two recent games at Madison Square Garden. If Singler is on track against Wisconsin, it will help open up good looks at the basket for Duke’s other players.

Wisconsin will be a solid early season road test for Duke such as Purdue and Michigan were last season. This will be Duke’s only true road game prior to playing at Georgia Tech in January. The game has the makings to be a competitive challenge for the Blue Devils.

Lewis, Varner shine but Wake offense too much for Duke

Photo by Lance King
Photo by Lance King

DURHAM, N.C. – Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner threw for 372 yards and five touchdowns as the Demon Deacons defeated the Duke Blue Devils, 45-34, Saturday afternoon in front 21,420 fans at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis turned in a strong performance in his final game, completing 28-of-48 passes for 387 yards and three touchdowns. For his career, Lewis totaled 10,065 passing yards to become the 60th quarterback in NCAA history to reach the 10,000-yard mark for his career, and the eighth this season. Lewis’ 67 career touchdown passes is also the second-highest career total in ACC history.

Receiver Donovan Varner finished the day with 11 receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Varner caught 65 passes for 1,047 yards in 2009 to become just the third player in Duke history with over 1,000 yards receiving in a single season.

Receivers Conner Vernon and Austin Kelly both collected 93 receiving yards, while tailback Desmond Scott totaled 252 all-purpose yards on the afternoon. Senior linebacker Vincent Rey paced the Blue Devil defense with 11 tackles.

Both offenses dominated the first quarter as the two teams combined for 329 total yards and four touchdowns in the opening 7:39. Duke struck first, 1:04 into the first quarter on the third play of the day with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to Varner.

Wake Forest would tie the score less than two minutes later as Skinner hit receiver Devon Brown with a 28-yard pass on the Deacons’ fourth play of the afternoon.

The Blue Devils took the lead again, needing only 1:04 and three plays to reach the end zone. This time, Lewis found Kelly breaking through the middle for a 62-yard gain.

On Wake Forest’s following possession, the Blue Devil defense forced a punt, but a personal foul penalty gave the Deacons the ball back near midfield. Wake’s offense capitalized on the Duke miscue, knotting the score at 14-all on a 54-yard touchdown pass from Skinner to receiver Chris Givens.

The Demon Deacons took the lead for good early in the second quarter, covering 55 yards in eight plays. Skinner tossed his third touchdown pass of the game, again finding Brown for an eight-yard strike.

On Duke’s following possession, tailback Jay Hollingsworth rushed for two first downs to push the Devil offense across midfield, but Duke stalled in Wake territory. However, Kicker Will Snyderwine connected on a 51-yard field goal attempt, the longest of his career, and the Blue Devils trailed 21-17 heading into halftime.

Yet the third quarter would belong to the Demon Deacons, with Skinner throwing for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the period, including a 13-yard strike to tailback Kevin Harris and a 51-yard pass to receiver Marshall Williams.

Duke was able to add a field goal in the third quarter, but trailed 35-20 heading into the fourth. A missed Wake field goal gave the Devils the ball back, and Lewis punched the ball in from the one-yard line to cut Wake’s lead to 35-27 after an 80-yard drive.

But the Blue Devils could not narrow the lead any farther and Wake Forest would add a field goal and run back an interception to take a 45-27 lead late in the fourth quarter. Duke added another touchdown, a 21-yard reception by Varner, with 2:31 left in the game, but Wake Forest was able to run out the clock for win.

Duke defense shuts down Huskies in 68-59 win

Nolan Smith - Duke Photo
Nolan Smith - Duke Photo

New York – The game that started with more wins between the coaches than any in Division I history was far from an instant classic.

Duke and Connecticut combined to miss a total of 90 shots from the field, and the team that missed more of them rebounded its way to another big win at Madison Square Garden.

Seventh-ranked Duke and Mike Krzyzewski won another NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday with a 68-59 victory over No. 13 Connecticut and Jim Calhoun.

The Hall of Fame coaches set the record for total career wins in a game and Krzyzewski now has 839, fourth on the all-time list, and Calhoun still has 809, good for sixth place.

“It was a big-time game, shots were so hard to come by, open shots. Both teams are very, very good defensively and you know, you get by one guy and it’s hard to get to the bucket,” Krzyzewski said. “But we rebounded very well and we played outstanding defense.”

The Blue Devils (6-0) dominated the Huskies (4-1) in every category except shooting in extending their winning streak in the tournament to 12 games with a third straight title (2000, 2005) and fourth overall (1985).

Duke shot 28.4 percent (21 of 74) compared to Connecticut’s 37.3 percent (22 of 59), but the Blue Devils finished with a 56-43 rebound advantage, including 25-14 on the offensive boards.

“We missed 53 shots and we had 56 rebounds, you know?” Krzyzewski said. “It’s a very unusual game, but it’s a game where both teams played with a lot of heart, and we feel very fortunate to win this game and win the NIT championship.”

The victory also snapped Connecticut’s four-game winning streak in the series with the last two victories both coming in Final Fours – the 1999 national championship game and the 2004 semifinals.

It was the first time Duke won a game shooting under 30 percent since a 68-53 victory over Navy on Feb. 4, 1950, when the Blue Devils shot 27.3 percent.

“The last time we lost a game when we held a team to eight field goals in the second half and 28 percent shooting, I can’t remember,” Calhoun said. “Quite frankly, they outwilled us and did the things you need to do to win a game.”

Tournament MVP Jon Scheyer had 19 points to lead Duke, which has won five straight games and 12 of its last 13 at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils extended their winning streak in November to 22 straight games and that will stand for 11 months because their next game is against Wisconsin on Dec. 2.

Nolan Smith had 16 points and Lance Thomas added 11 points and 11 rebounds for Duke, which beat Arizona State 64-53 in the semifinals.

“Our defense was really great and it had to be since we shot the ball so poorly,” Scheyer said. “Defense won this game and our big guys rebounded huge for our team.”

Jerome Dyson had 15 points and Gavin Edwards added 12 for the Huskies, who beat LSU 81-55 to get to their first championship game in three NIT Season Tip-Off appearances.

“They just wanted the offensive rebounds more than us and that killed us,” Dyson said.

Duke was able to take a 37-28 halftime lead with an 8-2 run in an ugly last 4 minutes. Kyle Singler, who had his second straight poor shooting game, hit a 3 with 4:17 left that gave the Blue Devils a 32-26 lead. That was Duke’s last field goal of the half and the Huskies had just one in that span, a drive by Stanley Robinson with 51 seconds left that made it 37-28.

The second half was Duke’s in a hurry.

The Blue Devils used a 12-0 run – during which five players scored – to go ahead 53-34 with 13:18 to play. Calhoun called two timeouts in a 1:13 span in the run – he had already called one 1:30 into the half – to try and slow things down but the Blue Devils were scoring from the perimeter and overpowering the Huskies down low.

Duke finished 6 for 18 from 3-point range while the Huskies didn’t make any in four attempts.

“I didn’t want them taking 3s,” Calhoun said of his team, “I thought we had the quickness to go by them. (Duke) didn’t score on nine of 10 trips at one point in the second half but we scored on one of those. They outquicked us to the ball when they needed to get it to the offensive end, which is something that can’t happen to us.”

The Blue Devils even stayed with Connecticut in blocked shots, not an easy thing to do since the Huskies have led the nation in that stat the last eight seasons – and they averaged 10.3 coming in. The Huskies blocked 13 in each of their last two games, a total Duke managed in all five games combined. Connecticut finished with nine, two more than the Blue Devils.

“Our big guys were coming over and at least if they didn’t take charges, they were trying to take charges and they got a few blocks. They distracted the shooter, kind of like how they did to us,” Krzyzewski said of his team’s help defense. “I thought shooters in the lane today was not a good place to shoot the ball. There were a lot of distractions defensively being made by both teams for those shooters.”

Connecticut did get within single digits with a 12-2 run that made it 62-54 with 52 seconds to play.

“I’m appalled by the lack of rebounding by us as a team,” Calhoun said. “You can’t beat anybody if they get 25 offensive rebounds. If you hold somebody to 28 percent, you can’t lose, but if you give them 25 offensive rebounds and can’t make a shot, you can get some problems.”

Duke 68 UConn 59 – Coach K quotes

Connecticut Duke BasketballBDN will have more coverage to come but until then, here is Coach K’s post game comments-

MODERATOR:  Coach will make an opening statement and then he’ll take questions.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  It’s a big‑time game.  Shots were so hard to come by.  Open shots.  Both teams are very, very good defensively.  And you know, you get by one guy and you can’t ‑‑ it’s hard to get to the bucket.  You know?  And we’ve not experienced a team like that this year.

But we rebounded very well.  We played outstanding defense.  And I thought Thomas and Zoubek were the difference‑makers for us.  Because I mean they both had 11 rebounds.  And Zoubek I thought had the biggest play in the first half where he got the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Singler for a 3 because points were tough to come by.  And in the second half he got one, and I don’t know how he got it out to Scheyer in the corner.  He got it through about four guys and Scheyer hit that 3.  And so on two of his offensive rebounds we got 6 points.

We didn’t give up a 3 today.  So when you get two possessions in this game, where you get 6 points, that’s a lot.  We missed 53 shots and we had 56 rebounds.  You know, that’s a very unusual game.

But it’s a game where both teams played with a lot of heart and we feel very privileged to have won this game and the NIT Championship with the Carlesimo name on it.  The Carlesimo family is like family to me and my family.  The trophy is named after one of the great, great men in college basketball history.  So it was nice to see Lucy.  We call her “Lucia” from the Barcelona Olympics.  That’s a good thing.

Any questions.

Q.  Doug Gottlieb called your team alarmingly unathletic.  Did you think today answered that question pretty emphatically?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  He should be an expert on alarmingly non‑athletic.  So I’ll have to take a look at that a little bit closer because it comes from an expert who actually knows what it feels like to be alarmingly non‑athletic.

Actually, we’re pretty athletic; we’re just not as athletic as Connecticut.  Singler is a really good athlete.  Lance, Miles.  Jon is not leaping tall buildings with a single bound but he’s a real good athlete.  But I wouldn’t call us like this athletic team, but we’re not amazingly non‑athletic.  And I would rather not get into a discussion with Doug because I have respect of his stature and he should have his arguments with people of similar stature.  That would be a good thing.

Q.  Stopping the transition was obviously a key.  How did you do that in the first half?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, we didn’t for a while.  Walker, he’s a jet.  We had Wojo scout for this team and I said, “You said he was quick, you didn’t say that he was that quick.”  And we adjusted our defense.  What we normally do with a point guard like that is try to corral him at half court with the second big, you know, just to hold him back.  And we couldn’t get back in time to do that.  So after the first TV time‑out, instead of 21 which is our half‑court defense, we went top of the key 11 and just said, “Get back.  Don’t worry about corral.”  Everybody is responsible for corralling him, and I thought the rest of the game we did a fairly good job of it.

Q.  25 offensive rebounds on a team like UCONN with their size and athleticism; what do you chalk that up to?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, we’re big too.  Non‑athletic but very big.  And so ‑‑ Zoubek and Thomas were huge.  We do run sets where our perimeter guys take shots.  They took a lot of shots and they should take lot of shots.  Our big guys are accustomed to know when those guys take their shots.  So we’ve been working a lot on trying to position ourselves in places where we might get that reshot.

Q.  Did you notice anything as far as UCONN leaking out early?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  They did.

Q.  Was that something you could take advantage of?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  I didn’t think we could take advantage of ‑‑ I just didn’t want ‑‑ they beat us a couple of times early.  They blew by us for about six minutes.  And then we knew ‑‑ we knew we shouldn’t fast break, try to fast break with them the whole game unless we got a turnover.

Q.  Meaning that if they’re going ‑‑

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  No, no, we have an extra guy on the boards to crash.  We discussed that.  But I don’t think that was ‑‑ the guys who got the most offensive rebounds were the guys that had on their bigs.  They almost made some big plays.  We couldn’t put the ball back in the basket.  A lot of it has to do with their shot‑blocking ability.

Q.  In the second half, especially in the second half, even when their guards would get into the lane, can you talk about your help defense?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  That’s again the big guys were coming over.  And at least if they didn’t take charges, they were trying to take charges, they got a few blocks.  But they distracted the shooter.  Kind of like how they did to us.

I thought shooters in the lane today was not a good place to shoot the ball.  You know, there was a lot of distractions defensively being made by both teams for those shooters.

Q.  Can you talk about Jon Scheyer‘s game?  19‑5‑5.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Jon is a terrific player.  He’s a terrific basketball player.  He has a great feel for the game.  And because he’s almost an automatic free‑throw shooter, he’s dangerous especially at the end of the game.  He values the ball.  And although he’s not making a lot of great passes, he’s not making hardly any turnovers.  And he makes simple passes and I think ‑‑ now he has four turnovers for the year.  He’s the most important player we have, Jon is.  Just because he has to have the ball so much.

Q.  Kyle, 2‑of‑12, 6 points, he shoots 29 percent.  I told you those numbers coming into the game.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  I would have been very worried or mad at you.  I would have told you to go talk to Doug Gottlieb.  You don’t have to do that by the way.  I won’t punish you like that.

Kyle made two bad fouls.  I think the nature of the game he slapped down twice and he just can’t do that.  From then on, we’re massaging the game and then he gets three.  And so you talk ‑‑ I hate to talk with words like “flow” ‑‑ he never got in the rhythm of the game.  He never got in the rhythm of the game.  But still, defensively he was on Robinson.  I mean, they kind of negated one another.  Robinson ‑‑ their perimeter is very, very athletic.  Robinson is a big‑time athlete.

Q.  When you win a game like this, do you leave here feeling pretty good?

We’ll have more on the game a bit later but here are Coach K’s post game comments.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Oh, yeah, we feel great.  We played against two different types of teams and two teams that I think are going to be in contention in their conference coverages.

We’re still missing one of our kids.  Mason Plumlee who I think will be a big addition to our team.

The other kid I want to mention is Andre Dawkins.  Both of these games he didn’t play like a freshman.  He was very, very good, very good in both games.  And that gives us a little bit more depth on the perimeter.

THE MODERATOR:  Last question?

Q.  What kind of role do you foresee for him as this develops and he gets more experience?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  He got good time today.  He’s playing behind our three best players.  So the fact he’s going to be the first guy off the bench.  He can play off those guys because he’s as good a shooter as we have.  And then if we ever did want to go small and put Kyle at the four, he could be ‑‑ we did have that lineup in for a little bit.

But then the fouls ‑‑ actually, we got a big bucket when we had Kyle at the four.  And then we got in foul trouble and we had to get away from it.  Andre has been really good for us.

Thank you.

BDN’s Wake Forest at Duke Football Preview

Duke senior Catron Gainey makes the stop - BDN Photo
Duke senior Catron Gainey makes the stop - BDN Photo

It’s Senior Day at Wallace Wade Stadium, as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-7, 2-5 ACC) travel to Durham on Saturday to take on the Duke Blue Devils (5-6, 3-4 ACC) in the 2009 season finale. Fifteen Blue Devils Seniors will be honored for their contributions to the program. The game will be televised by Raycom Sports with kickoff scheduled for noon. Tickets are still available through the Duke Ticket Office at (919) 681-BLUE and goduke.com for a special price of just $15 each.

SCOUTING THE BLUE DEVILS (5-6, 3-4 ACC)

Last Time Out

Duke enters their final contest of the 2009 season on a three-game losing streak, after starting the ACC season at 3-1. Last week’s loss came at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes at Land Shark Stadium, as the Blue Devils saw a 16-10 second half lead slip away into a 34-16 defeat. The Hurricanes scored 24 unanswered points to close the game, including a 44-yard touchdown from Miami QB Jacory Harris to WR Leonard Hankerson and a 73-yard interception returned for a touchdown by LB Daryl Sharpton.

In the loss in his hometown, Duke senior QB Thad Lewis set the Duke all-time career passing record completing 20/37 passes for 301 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  Lewis passed Ben Bennett in the Duke record books with 9,678 career yards and now holds 48 Duke career, season, and single-game records. Sophomore receiver Donovan Varner set a career high with 165 yards on 8 catches and a touchdown. Duke again struggled to run the ball, totaling just 55 yards rushing, with freshman Desmond Scott and sophomore Jay Hollingsworth splitting carries.

As has been the case in Blue Devil losses this year, third down conversions played a crucial role. While the Blue Devils were just 3 of 12 on third downs, the Duke defense allowed the Hurricanes to convert 14 of 21, including several key receptions by former Miami basketball player-turned tight end Jimmy Graham.

Season

After a 5-3 start, Duke has gone winless in November and was eliminated from bowl contention with last week’s loss in Miami. Duke has been led all season by the arm of Thad Lewis, the sure hands of his young receivers, and timely defense. The Blue Devils rank first in the ACC in passing offense, with Donovan Varner, Austin Kelly, and Conner Vernon all ranking in the top ten in the conference in receptions. The Duke defense, led by seniors Vincent Rey and Catron Gainey, who both rank in the top ten in the ACC in tackles, has held opponents to under 20 points five times this season. Duke has been one of the most disciplined teams in the ACC, ranking second in the conference with only 5 penalties per game and compiling a +3 turnover margin on the season.

Thad Lewis and Vincent Rey were named 2009 season captains this week, voted on by their teammates. Their leadership on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball has put the Blue Devils in position to finish the season at .500 for the first time since 1994.

Seniors

Blue Devil Nation thanks this year’s senior class for their hard work and invaluable contributions to the Duke football program. After winning just 1 game during their first two years in Durham, the Blue Devils have won 9 games during their final two seasons.

“This group has endured some difficult times,” said head coach David Cutcliffe. “Thank goodness they’ve been able to celebrate some good times. Their contribution to Duke football will be more significant over a period of time, because it’s not just what you do on Saturday. It’s not even what you do on the practice field alone, and they’ve done well there. But they’ve gotten high marks in their conditioning work, their summer passing work that they set up and organized themselves and in their commitment to excellence, academically and socially.”

QB Thaddeus Lewis

DT Vince Oghobaase

LB Vincent Rey

RB Re’quan Boyette

OG Jarod Holt

DE Ayanga Okpokoworuk

CB Leon Wright

S Catron Gainey

NG Kinney Rucker

LB Jordan Baltes

We wish these seniors the best of luck as they complete their degrees and begin their respective careers, both on and off the gridiron.

SCOUTING THE DEMON DEACONS (4-7, 2-5 ACC)

Last Time Out

The Demon Deacons come into Durham off a much-needed bye week, having lost five straight games prior to the bye. Their last lost, to Florida State at home, eliminated the Demon Deacons from bowl contention for the first time in QB Riley Skinner’s career. The Seminoles racked up 437 total yards in the 41-28 victory, including 220 passing yards by second-string QB E.J. Manuel, starting in place of the injured Christian Ponder. The Demon Deacons totaled 454 yards on offense themselves, including 227 yards rushing on just 29 carries (a 7.8 yards per carry average). Senior QB Riley Skinner, who ranks 6th all time in the ACC in passing yards, threw for 227 yards on 25/40 passing, including 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.

After the loss, a visibly-emotional Skinner said, “It’s just crazy to think about. It’s been 4 1/2 years and I never thought it would come to an end like this.”

Season

After three straight bowl appearances, the 2009 campaign has been a disappointment in Winston-Salem. It’s the story of what could have been, as five of the Demon Deacon losses have been by a total of 13 points, including overtime losses to Boston College and Coastal Division Champion Georgia Tech.

Wake Forest ranks fifth in the ACC in total offense, averaging 132 yards on the ground and 262 yards through the air. QB Riley Skinner is second in the conference in both touchdowns with 21, and completion percentage with 65.2%, on the year. His favorite targets have been Devon Brown and Marshall Williams, both with over 50 receptions this season. The Wake Forest rushing attack is led by Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass, who average an impressive 4.8 yards per carry between them. The Demon Deacons have a -5 turnover margin, having forced only 14 turnovers through 11 games and giving up over 375 yards of offense to opponents.

INJURY REPORT

Key players appear on the injury report again for the Blue Devils, including three seniors. Thad Lewis is expected to play despite lingering leg injuries. His health will be essential for a Blue Devil victory with backup QB Sean Renfree out for the season with a torn ACL. Redshirt-senior RB Re’quan Boyette remains questionable, as does redshirt-senior DT Vince Oghobaase, both with leg injuries. Sophomore WR Johnny Williams is listed as questionable with a knee injury suffered against Georgia Tech two weeks ago.

The Demon Deacon injury report was not made available; however, their secondary has been depleted all season and will be again on Saturday. Sophomore safety Josh Bush, who has started six games this season, will be out on Saturday after complications from a bruised collarbone required surgery to remove a blood clot. With two true freshmen redshirting this year and with injuries or suspensions to other key members, the Demon Deacon defense will be thin in the season finale.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Two of the top ten most prolific passers in ACC history square off in Durham on Saturday. Both Riley Skinner and Thad Lewis will be looking to close their historic collegiate careers with a victory.

Jim Grobe is 8-0 against the Blue Devils during his time at Wake Forest and with an extra week to prepare, Grobe and his staff will have the Demon Deacons ready to play. While Wake Forest has worked hard to establish the run in recent weeks, Grobe will likely put the ball in Skinner’s hands in his final game in black and gold.

The same will be the case for the Blue Devils, who will look for Thad Lewis to put up his record-setting 11th career 300-yard passing game, with 10,000 career passing yards in sight. If the offensive line can buy Lewis enough time against a blitzing Demon Deacon defense, his receivers should find open space downfield against a thin secondary.

With both teams, the margin of error has been small all year, and the team who executes consistently in all three phases of the game with the fewest mistakes will finish the 2009 season victorious. For the Blue Devil faithful, Saturday will be an emotional day as we say good-bye to a resilient senior class led by #9. Win or lose, the Duke program is much improved thanks to their contributions.