Duke TE Braxton Deaver thinks Duke is ready to turn the corner

Flashback to Duke Photo Day where Blue Devil Nation was on hand in late August.  Braxton Deaver found a way to get in more of our pictures than any other player.  That is just who Deaver is, an extrovert and person that lightens the mood of his teammates.  Deaver also competes hard in practice and has become a vital cog in this season’s offense.

How does it feel to get a win under your belt?

So good!  I was … at the end of that game, I prayed, I was down on my knee saying come on, we needed a breakthrough and we finally caught that break we needed.  We had been so close on all of our breaks and finally one came through for us.

Is there an extra bounce in the step of the players this week coming off a win?

For sure!  After winning and getting that feeling of winning we got on the plane and the atmosphere was so much better.  The next day everybody was ready.  Everybody was ready to work and prepare in order to get that again and losing is not something this program wants.  We are not going to accept losing because this team is a bunch of winners.

It had to feel good that this was a road ACC win which have been few and far between for the program in the past.

Looking at the standings in the newspaper the other day, showed that we were at the top of the ACC standings right now in our division  It was just so nice to see and I want it to stay that way.  I don’t want to look and see it like it has been in the past and just say Duke is in last, Duke is in second to last.  People always pick us last and you know what?  It’s time for that to change, it’s time for us to step up and be a presence in the ACC and that win gives us more confidence in the ACC as well.

From my vantage you are a team extrovert, maybe even a little hamish if you will.  Is that something you feel like is a part of you as a person?

I definitely think so.  I line to think my outgoing nature helps to bring a little bit of energy to the team.  If I play at a high energy level it’s a good thing because people are going to feed off you no matter how you play and if you play at a high tempo and keep everybody up people feed of that energy.

How do you feel about your game this season and how you are playing?

I think that I’m doing pretty well.  I think I’ve made a large leap since last season in terms of blocking and my mental game.  I feel I can go into any situation and catch the ball.  I feel like my hands are the best they’ve ever been here and I think my blocking is definitely on the up and that I can be a big factor in this offense for sure.

Thanks for your time and good luck against Tulane.

Thank you sir.

All photos copyright Blue Devil Nation Photo

2013 Prospect Troy Williams recaps visits to Duke and UNC

Prospect Troy Williams is a budding prospect coming up in the Boo Williams AAU system.  In fact, Boo Williams is his Uncle and is playing a huge role in offering him suggestions and guidance.  Williams is long and lanky and has a nose for the basket early on and his length allows him to hit passing lanes on the defensive end.  While still a somewhat streaky shooter, Williams has plenty of time to work on that part of his game. Almost all the rankings have Williams listed among the best in the class of 2013 and suitors are starting to call on a regular basis.  Williams speaks to BDN about a recent visit to the Triangle where he stopped in at UNC before heading to Duke.  He also gives us a list of schools chasing him the hardest in this BDN Premium interview.

How would you describe your game for those who’ve yet to see you play?

Explosive, high flying and you never know what’s going to happen next.

The last time I checked in with you, you were pushing  6-7, is that still the case?

I’m closing in on 6-8 and still growing.

Tell me about how you progressed and became listed as one of the nations top players? [private]

After my ninth grade year  on varsity, I didn’t play that much, getting like 15 or 20 minutes and in the spring I just got  in the gym.  That’s what actually motivated me and my Uncle (Boo Williams) pushed me along.  I didn’t get as much playing time as a ninth grader that I was told I would, so I just went out and worked harder.  I was on the 16 under team and then got noticed, so I moved up and played with the 17’s and my name got out there even more.  During my sophomore year I added more skills and my athleticism got better and it is just all coming together now.

You play the passing lanes well, with your length.  Do you like playing defense?

I like to block the shot and get the team off on a fast break.  I play the passing lanes the same way.

Would you rather have a blocked shot for a win or a dunk?

I would say the winning block.

What are you like to do when you are not balling?

Eating.  I love eating and then hang out, watching You Tube, playing video games and T.V.  I just like hanging out.

Who will help you make a decision on where you play  in college?

My Uncle Boo and my Aunt Sadie.

Have you made any unofficial visits of late?

Two weekends ago I came back from the UNC and Duke campus, so those were my first two unofficial visits.

Tell me how the UNC visit went.

I was able to play in the open gym with their basketball team.  I got to eat at their tailgate with them and watch some of the football game.  It was real good and a nice campus.  Their history is amazing.  I can see them in the future being in my favorites.

What about Duke?

It was kind of a late schedule and on the spot schedule.  I met Coach K and toured some of the campus, saw the gym and learned a little bit about the history,  I didn’t really get to see that much.  Later on in the future … it’s a good school but I don’t know if I can see them in my top.

Do you have any favorites early on?  Or, did you have a dream school growing up?

I don’t even know that.  I had no dream school growing up.

Back to UNC, you seem to favor them a lot.

I mean, I had a good visit.  Yes, I like them a lot and see them being there at my top.

But you don’t see Duke at the top?

No. I can’t say for sure I would not like them in the future but I just didn’t get to see that much, so …

Will you take all five official visits before making a choice.

Yes, I can see that happening.

What other schools have been active in your recruitment?

Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Louisville, DePaul, Florida and Kentucky.

Thanks for your time Troy, and good luck this season.

Okay, thank you.

Synopsis – It is obvious to me after our conversation that UNC made a huge impression on him while he was very open about not seeing Duke in his final list.  In recruiting, much can change, but early returns seem to indicate that the Blue Devils should concentrate their efforts elsewhere in the class of 2013. [/private]

BDN Monday Musings – It’s great to be a Duke fan!

Good Morning Blue Devil Nation!  Well, it’s always a pretty good day when you’re a faithful follower of the royal blue for we are lucky to be fans of such a great athletic program.   This weeks Monday Musings gets back to our jump all over the place style and with that said, let the musings begin …

Duke was not lucky to defeat Boston College

The Football Gods indeed smiled on the Blue Devils this weekend as a Boston College field goal to win the game clanked off the left up right as time ran out securing a 20-19 win.  Those who didn’t watch the game said Duke was lucky but I have a different take.  The Blue Devils did enough to put themselves in position to win.  In fact, they were clearly the best team on the field and mistakes cost them a chance to coast to victory.  At some point, luck had to side with the Blue Devils who’ve been snake bit by their field goal kicking team.  And oh what irony that it was a missed field goal that brought them redemption.

An amazing record breaking performance by Sean Renfree

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer young man!  A record breaking day is what I speak of where Duke junior quarterback set an all time Duke Football record with 41 completions.  The 41 completions are a new school single-game record, bettering the previous mark of 40 set by Thaddeus Lewis vs. N.C. State in 2009.   Renfree relaxed in this game as he saw his offensive line give him plenty of time to pick apart the Boston College secondary.  Finding the red zone was just what the doctor ordered for Renfree who had been off to a bit of a shaky start this season.  And let’s hope that he continues to hang in the pocket and pick the Green Wave of Tulane off this coming weekend.

Speaking of the Green Wave

We often joked about how Duke flat out has bad luck when scheduling future opponents.  It would take a lengthy article to discuss how when teams are first on the schedule, they finished the season like 1-11, yet the year before they hit the schedule they go to a bowl game and return their entire team.  Yes, I am talking about Florida International, the next road game, but then there is Tulane.  The Green Wave were a whipping boy when scheduled, but they have now morphed into a 2-1 team coming off a huge road win against Alabama-Birmingham.  Tulane is the opposite of Duke right now in that they are a junior and senior dominated team while Duke has five total seniors on their two deep roster.  Anyhow, this game looked like a sure win but now it looks to be a be a close game and the Blue Devils need their fans turn out and root them to their second consecutive win.

Lance King photo for BDN

ACC Expansion

The Atlantic Coast conference made a strong move to bring in Pittsburgh and Syracuse and I for one applaud them. Yes, I know that I have stated on more than once occasion that I hated the original expansion.  Yes, I am a traditionalist at heart as well.  But if you had to add a couple of teams, I am okay with the additions.  The ACC was pro active and chose two teams they wanted in a time of impending change.  Trust me, that’s a lot better than our chances of seeing what is left after every other conference is done.  Basketball was strengthened which added more balance in that ACC Commissioner John Swofford’s first move was all about football.  I am not alone in hating that move and it never turned out like planned with a huge ACC Football Championship game between the incoming studs.  However, this latest move will solidify the commissioners legacy and you can bet that a 16 team league will happen.

BDN Twitter and Facebook Pages

We’ve set the pace with changes for a long time here and since our inception you have seen our ideas, style and concept copied by others which is flattering. We get what Duke fans want and so ideas come with ease around here. Blue Devil Nation was the first site or entity to ever tweet live from press row in Cameron Indoor Stadium and we have a lot of fun that time of the year.  We have more competition these days but as they say, there is nothing like the original.  I am very in touch with the program and what is happening and I think that shines through and is the difference maker.    We have a great following on Twitter and I hope you join us.  Just yesterday, Sunday worship and such was interrupted by the announcement of ACC expansion and BDN tweeted the happenings of the call in media event for our followers and share a lot of information obtained from our many sources. We tweeted from the 2010 national championship game and have done so from major AAU events as well.  And there is no place better for breaking news, tips and teases, so go to the side of the page and follow us, we have a lot of fun.  We have a Facebook page as well, a group called Blue Devil Nation which we are just now starting to grow, so check that out to.

Back to expansion — a chance to get it right this time

The current conference alignment has never been popular amongst most ACC fans.  I mean, Duke not playing long time rival North Carolina State yearly in football is a crime.  The original idea was to separate then football powers Florida State and Miami so that they would meet in the championship.  The thing fact is that never happened.  Let’s hope there is more respect given to geography this time and that whomever thought Maryland was the Blue Devils rival rethinks the situation a bit.  A few great basketball games does not make the Terps the Dukies chief rival behind North Carolina.

Hurley, Hurley, Hurley, Hurley

Some of you have no idea how hated Bobby Hurley was when he ran the point guard position at Duke.  I will never forget a particular game at Chapel Hill where I had never to this day seen such seething hatred from part of their fan base.  He was cursed at, spit at and was called everything from dare I say this, “faggot,” to you name it.  I suppose it was difficult for them in that he led Duke to their first national title the year before and there was a new guy in town named Mike Krzyzewski in his early pre legend years.  Again, I have never seen that kind of hatred since from their fan base since.  Everywhere Hurely went fans would chant his last name over and over and Bobby seemed to thrive on it.  Why did I bring all this up?  Because I will finally get to that Bobby Hurley interview this week so stay tuned for that.

In closing this week it is important to remember that we are all Blue Devil fans and on the same team.  Far too often, silly site wars divide fans and that simply has to stop.  There is no such thing as good Duke fans and bad Duke fans for all Duke fans are supportive of the programs.  It is time to heal wounds from the past an move forward together on a united front.  You can always depend on Blue Devil Nation to bring you the most Duke-centric experience possible.

 

 

 

BDN Rapid Reaction: Duke 20, Boston College 19

Duke emerged the victor in Chestnut Hill this afternoon with a 20-19 victory over the Boston College Eagles. It was an up-and-down game for both sides, but the Blue Devils were able to persevere.

No good!

Miscues in the kicking game were the story for both teams, highlighted by Nate Freese’s 23-yard FG try off the left upright with 43 seconds remaining. Freese also had a costly missed extra point earlier in the game. Duke had more than its fair share of kicking struggles, headlined by a blocked Alex King punt, a missed 33-yard FG by Jeff Ijjas, and a kickoff out of bounds by Paul Asack. Duke may have come away with the victory, but the question marks in the kicking game persist, and one has to wonder how long Duke can leave freshman Will Monday on the sideline if Will Snyderwine remains injured.

Killer V’s back on track

After an inconsistent start to the season, Duke’s dynamic receiving duo returned to their All-ACC form on Saturday, finishing with 18 catches and 194 receiving yards combined. Both took a few hard hits from the BC defense, but managed to secure the football and move the chains. Junior Conner Vernon had two impressive TD catches and finished with 6 catches and 112 yards. Senior Donovan Varner had his best game of the season and a career-high 12 catches. Brandon Braxton added 9 catches for 60 yards and tight end Cooper Helfet finished with 6 receptions for 59 yards. Juwan Thompson had 104 all-purpose yards, and overall, the Duke offense racked up 465 yards of total offense.

Renfree gets his mojo back

The story of the day for the Blue Devils, however, was the play of Duke QB Sean Renfree, who finally put up the kind of numbers Duke fans have come to expect from the redshirt-junior. Despite hit after hit from Luke Kuechly and the BC defense, Renfree stood strong and finished with 40 completions, 359 yards, and 2 touchdowns. His 1 interception came on a tipped pass that certainly could have been caught. Perhaps most importantly, it was Renfree, and not redshirt-freshman Anthony Boone, who pushed his way far enough into the end zone for the go-ahead 1-yard TD in the 4th quarter. This definitely was a performance for the second-year starting QB to build on.

Costly mistakes

Duke fans have seen their share of close losses over the years, and it certainly seemed like this was shaping up to be another heartbreaker. Instead, the disappointment falls on Boston College, who squandered their opportunity to win in the final seconds. The Blue Devils, however, made things difficult on themselves with numerous costly mistakes. In addition to the kicking woes, the Blue Devils were whistled for 9 devastating penalties for 79 yards. At least three of those penalties negated first downs for the offense, and a personal foul on the final BC drive nearly cost the game. The Blue Devils will have to eliminate these costly mistakes if they hope to play winning football. Fans and players should enjoy this victory today, and carry the good vibes into next weekend against Tulane. Starting tomorrow, however, it is back to work for #dukegang.

Bring on the Green Wave! WE ARE DUKE!

BDN Football Predictions Week 3 – Jim Sumner picks against BDN Staff

It’s been a bit of a busy day around here for our whole staff, thus we are getting our predictions up late.  Jim Sumner, who has authored books on Duke Basketball and Carolina League Baseball, joins us as the guest picker this week.  We duck no hard games, picking the toughest match-ups we can find.  Here are this week’s picks with an added blurb on how each prognosticator feels the Duke-Boston College game will go.

1. Bob  Green
T-2. Andrew Slater (-1)
T-2. Patrick Cacchio (-1)
T-2. Guest (-1)
5. Mark Watson (-2)

Mark Watson – Two teams meet in dire need of victory when Duke travels to Boston College where they’ll play on turf for the first time this season.  Look for a very close game and both teams will play a more open offense than they have to date.  My brain is saying take BC becasue they are at home by a FG.  With the way the Blue Devils kicking game is going, I hate to say this and hope I am wrong.  Boston College 28, Duke 27

Bob Green - Duke and Boston College are both off to disappointing 0-2 starts but the winner of this game will be 1-0 in the all important conference games.  The Blue Devils have had success moving the ball, evidenced by the 305 yards of passing offense recorded against Stanford; however, they have been abysmal in the Red Zone going 3 for 7 on the season.  Duke must solve their Red Zone woes to win at Chestnut Hill.  This week Coach David Cutcliffe will opt to stick with starting quarterback Sean Renfree inside the twenty yard line and the Blue Devils’ offense will respond by pushing the ball into the end zone multiple times. Duke 24, Boston College 13

Patrick Cacchio - Two winless teams with the lowest scoring offenses in the ACC will meet on Saturday, but only one will emerge a winner. The BC offense has looked lost without Montel Harris to hand it off to 30+ times a game. Duke’s offense has moved the ball, but failed to score. The historically stingy BC defense has given up yards and points this year, while the Duke defense has performed better than expected, but inconsistently. In the end, Duke has too many offensive weapons for the depleted Eagles’ defense, and the Blue Devils’ defense should put together another strong showing against a struggling BC offense. Sean Renfree gets back on track and into the end zone in this one, and Juwan Thompson will have a third straight solid game on the ground. Duke 28, Boston College 13

Jim Sumner- Put up or shut up time for Duke.  I see Duke with more focus and more intensity.  I also see Duke taking more chances downfield.  Look for Renfree to get picked once or twice but look for him to get it in the end zone once or twice.  Training wheels come off this weekend.  And the 27 is a missed PAT, not two field goals.  Unless Snyderwine is visited by the good-ankle-fairy over the next 40 hours.   Duke 27, Boston College 20 

Duke and Boston College square off in their ACC opener Saturday

BDN previews Duke’s ACC opener at Boston College

Duke and Boston College square off in their ACC opener Saturday

Duke travels to Boston College for their ACC opener on Saturday at 12:30 PM ET on the ACC Network. Both teams are off to a disappointing 0-2 start to the 2011 season, and one will have the opportunity to turn things around on Saturday.

Boston College fell in week one to Northwestern at home, 24-17, and then traveled to Central Florida for a lopsided 30-3 defeat last Saturday. The Blue Devils have seen a similar share of disappointment, losing a close game to Richmond in week one and then Stanford 44-14 in week two. Both teams have been plagued by injuries and have struggled to score on offense, ranking at the bottom of the ACC in scoring.

The Eagles will be without star RB Montel Harris for the third straight game, and the Eagle offense hasn’t looked the same without him. With a banged up offensive line and without a go-to wide receiver, Chase Rettig has struggled at quarterback, completing just over 50% of his passes so far this season. Andre Williams has been the lone bright spot, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and 86.5 yards per game, but he’s been unable to shoulder the entire offensive load himself.

All-American LB Luke Kuechly dominated the Blue Devils in 2010

Defensively, Boston College is known for its physical play, epitomized by leading tackler Luke Kuechly at linebacker. With a depleted secondary and a shorthanded defensive line, however, the typically stingy BC defense has allowed 27 points per game, including 231 rushing yards per game. On the season, the Eagles are -2 in turnover margin, and are allowing opponents to convert 41% of 3rd down opportunities. In particular, the 2nd half has been unkind to the Eagles, as they have been outscored 35-7 after intermission.

While a few starters will return this week, the Eagles will need to put together a much better effort in all three phases to begin to approach the preseason expectations for this team. Given BC’s struggles, the Blue Devils have an excellent opportunity to leave Chestnut Hill with a 1-0 ACC record if they can put together 60 minutes of good football.

QB Sean Renfree should have a big day against the depleted BC secondary

KEYS FOR DUKE

  1. Control the line of scrimmage. Boston College’s struggles have mostly been the direct result of losing the battle at the line of scrimmage. With injuries hampering BC’s offensive and defensive lines, this will be an excellent opportunity for the Blue Devils to demonstrate their improvement at the line of scrimmage. Duke needs to do a better job protecting Sean Renfree and consistently opening holes for the Duke running backs. If BC is able to consistently get after Renfree, Duke will continue to struggle to score points. The young Duke defensive line was able to unsettle Heisman favorite Andrew Luck for a few series last weekend. They will have to duplicate that effort and bring consistent pressure at QB Chase Rettig, forcing him into poor throws and turnovers.
  2. Establish Juwan Thompson early. Duke is facing a team that is allowing 231 rushing yards per game to opponents so far this season. With Desmond Scott and Josh Snead still sidelined, the powerful sophomore is left to carry the load for the Duke ground game. He’s averaging 5.4 yards per carry on the ground, and against a suspect BC defensive line, he should be ready to have a career day for the Blue Devils.
  3. Turn Renfree loose. Duke has moved the ball well at times this year, but has failed to open things up with offensive explosive plays. Establishing Thompson on the ground should open things up for Duke’s talented receiving corps, who should be salivating over a depleted BC secondary. BC’s linebacker’s are the biggest matchup problem for the Duke offense, led by Kuechly and Kevin Pierre-Louis. If BC is forced to use them against the run, the middle of the field should open up for Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner, and Cooper Helfet. If Duke is to win this game, Renfree will have to hook up with one of his receivers for his first passing touchdown of 2011.

GAME ANALYSIS

As you might expect for two winless teams, the statistics are pretty similar, and pretty ugly. Neither team has had much success making plays to win games. With BC’s injuries and offensive struggles, the Blue Devils appear to have more playmakers, and that could be the difference on Saturday.

Turnovers

Duke 3, Boston College 3

Duke already has three fumbles on the young season, while Boston College has thrown three interceptions. QB Chase Rettig can be pressured into poor throws if Duke is able to bring a consistent pass rush. The BC defenders are capable of delivering the hard hits that have forced the Blue Devils to put the ball on the ground. Simply put, the team that wins the turnover battle will be tough to beat Saturday.

Sacks

Duke 2, Boston College 2

Neither defense has been able to get after the quarterback consistently so far this year. What’s worse is that both offenses have done a poor job taking care of their own quarterback. Duke has allowed 7 sacks already in 2011, while Boston College has given up 6. Duke’s offensive line will need to drastically improve its pass protection, or Sean Renfree will again find himself repeatedly on the ground. With their injuries up front, Duke’s defense must take advantage of the Eagles’ shaky blocking.

3rd down

Duke 33%, Boston College 31%

Another dismal statistic for both sides. Both sides are converting around one-third of third-down opportunities while allowing opponents to convert over 40%. Luke Kuechly is the difference maker on 3rd down for BC, and Matt Daniels has been that guy for Duke. With two struggling offenses, the team that is able to sustain drives will find itself in good shape in the 4th quarter Saturday.

Explosives

Explosives comes down to playmakers. Lee Butler made an explosive 77-yard INT return for a TD last week, but it wasn’t enough. Duke needs to open up the field on offense and get Vernon, Varner, Helfet, and Thompson into open space. Jamison Crowder and Lee Butler both have the potential to add explosives on special teams. For BC, it all starts with Andre Williams. He has to consistently break tackles and move the chains if the Eagles are to have more success on offense.

Rushing TDs

Duke 4, BC 2

Neither team has had much success putting points on the board, but when they do, it’s usually on the ground so far this year. Duke has had three different players score on the ground, and Juwan Thompson will be looking to pick up his first on Saturday. Andre Williams is the primary threat for BC, and expect the Duke defense to key in on him.

Field goals

Duke 0/4, BC 2/4

With Will Snyderwine questionable, expect Duke to gamble more on 4th down than in the past. The kicking game is a complete question mark for the Blue Devils. BC would like to be more consistent, but they certainly have the edge in this matchup.

Penalties

Duke 7-52 yards, BC 11-73 yards

Duke continues to play disciplined football, though a few of their penalties have come at inopportune times, especially on offense. This is a statistic that the Blue Devils will have to win if they want to become a winning football program.

PREDICTION

Two winless teams with the lowest scoring offenses in the ACC will meet on Saturday, but only one will emerge a winner. The BC offense has looked lost without Montel Harris to hand it off to 30+ times a game. Duke’s offense has moved the ball, but failed to score. The historically stingy BC defense has given up yards and points this year, while the Duke defense has performed better than expected, but inconsistently. In the end, Duke has too many offensive weapons for the depleted Eagles’ defense, and the Blue Devils’ defense should put together another strong showing against a struggling BC offense. Sean Renfree gets back on track and into the end zone in this one, and Juwan Thompson will have a third straight solid game on the ground.

Duke 28, BC 13