Monday Musing's Duke Cheerleader of the Week

BDN Monday Musings – Tony Parker visit, Duke opens with Bellarmine, rotations and more

Monday Musing's Duke Cheerleader of the Week

It’s been some kind of busy around here of late and we’d have it no other way.  Of course, there will come a time when dual basketball and football coverage will take a toll  in that at BDN we try and cover it all.  This week is yet another exciting one for Duke fans and we discuss that further in this weeks Monday Musings –

This time they play somebody else

Trust me when I say that the Duke Men’s Basketball team is ready to take on somebody besides themselves and on Saturday it all begins. The Blue Devils will tip it off against Bellarmine at 7 p.m. this Saturday and all eyes will be on how Coach Mike Krzzyzewski uses his rotation.  Our guess is that the brothers Plumlee will start alongside Ryan Kelly with Austin Rivers and Seth Curry in the backcourt.  But we also think you will see as many as four more players crack the starting rotation at some point this season.  Duke has to take full advantage and advance in the two exhibition game in that their opener against Belmont is no walk in the park.  Belmont returns everybody off a 30 plus win NCAA Tournament team, so this is in no way a gimme game even in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Anyhow, expect varying analogies after the game on Saturday but if you’ve been following BDN, you already know what to expect.

Who will step up?

Duke is looking for players to step up and the question is who is really in the mix?  Alex Murphy has drawn the praise of Coach in practices with his on court smarts, but will he stand up physically against the likes of UCLA , Memphis or Kansas in Maui?  Michael Gbinije can do a lot of things well on both side of the ball but can he take a leap forward and be aggressive? Andre Dawkins is surely in the lineup, probably the sixth man, but can he be consistent when not jacking the threes?  Quinn Cook?  He looked great in the Blue-White game, but some say he has struggle in practice at times.  Can Cook find a way to claim the keys to the ship at some point in the season?  Tyler Thornton is not as exciting an offensive player but he is a solid on ball defender and hard worker, so will this be enough to gain him valuable minutes?  Josh Hairston is openly called the fourth big by coaches but will he too take advantage of his time on the court and take another leap forward?  Duke needs no less that two or three of these guys to contribute so it’ll be interesting thing to watch and see who takes the bull by the horns and makes themselves a contributor.

Tony Parker is in town

Duke has been recruiting Tony Parker for a long time now and Coach K has made it clear to him that he is their choice.  His recruitment has taken a lot of turns with comments and such, but it now appears that Parker is realizing the opportunity that is at hand and that he is in rare air being coveted by the nations top coaching staff.  Coach K loves Parkers hands and sees him as a perfect fit in the Blue Devils system.  Coach Capel would help Wojo work with him to make him a great big before he leaves Duke.  There is no reason to feel anything but positive about the Blue Devils chances with big Tony who wants to make a choice before his high school season starts.  And for those with a scorecard the open signing period is from November the 9th to the 16th.  Rasheed Sulaimon will send his LOI in, the question is who else will?

All quiet on McGary front

Nobody really knows where Mitch McGary stands at this time but Duke fans are hoping he waits to cast his lot until he plays in Cameron Indoor Stadium in the N.C. Pro Am Clash in Cameron.  That’s right!  My friends at the NC Pro Am are now a sponsor and I look forward to working with them to promote the event that features Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor.  And yes, we really will get to the update on the event soon.  I did say things had bee crazy around here, didn’t I?

Some of our cheeleaders pics can be found on the Blue Devil Nation Open Group Facebook page- BDN Photo by Rick Crank

Valiant second half effort by football team

Almost.  I know we all want wins but Duke has at least put itself in a position where a couple of plays could have meant a 5-2 mark instead of 3-4.  Fans need to think back when they had that opportunity before and support the program.  The guys need the support and you know what?  Almost all of them return and they will learn by the adversity faced as will the staff.  We in no way have jumped off the bandwagon and neither should you.  Duke takes on Virginia Tech this weekend in Wallace Wade and it is a great time for fans to take in the Saturday double header with basketball.

Facebook Page

Blue Devil Nation has an open group Facebook page that we are just starting to refine.  We have put a ton of pictures up from Countdown to Craziness, so join us today.  The open group means you can download Duke Photo’s, converse and even place links.  So help us out Blue Devil fans and le’t see your pride. Here is the link to Facebook page.

Glitches

After a few glitches last week, BDN is getting back to normal with our coverage.  We appreciate the support of fans who follow us and we strive to give you the most Duke-centric experience out there.  The best way to say thanks for our efforts is to join BDN Premium, our extended coverage that takes you inside the happenings.  Let’s go Duke!

BDN Photo

Duke Football Highlights Video vs Wake Forest

BDN Photo

Duke came up just short against the Wake Forest Demon Deacon this past weekend, despite a dominant second half effort.  BDN Video looks back at the Duke highlights in a game where victory was right there, but slipped away on one play.  The Blue Devils have improved this season and winning close games is next up for the crew to take it to the next level.  A couple of executed plays is all that separates this team from a 5-2 season.

Just short.

Duke outplays Wake but loses a heartbreaker 24-23 – Vernon post game comments

Just short.

Man, I tell you!  Duke Football is so close to turning the corner and could have just two losses on the season but one single big play turned the tide today.  A 66 yard touchdown pass from Tanner Price to Chris Givens was just enough for the Demon Deacons to hang on to a 24-23 win.

A tale of two halves

Duke left its game in the locker room in the first half where the offense failed to stretch the field a single time.  Wake scored 17 points to the Blue Devils’ 3 and held Duke to 132 yards of offense despite Sean Renfree going 16 for 19.  If you can figure that one out, let me know.  A late FG lifted Duke a bit as they went into the locker room but they came out on fire in the second half, running off 23 straight points before the big play to Givens.  Wake held the ball just over 6 minutes in the second half.

Duke dominated the stats

Duke held a 25 to 13 edge in first downs, out gained Wake 372 yards to 305 yards, ran a whopping 40 more plays on offense and the Blue Devils went 5 of 5 in the red zone.  Time of possession? Duke 38 to 21 minutes.

Thompson added a spark

Jay Hollingsworth started the game, but Juwan Thompson took over in the second and gained 66 yards for a 5.6 ypp average.  Desmond Scott helped out as well, adding 51 yards for a 4.9 average yards per carry.

Frustration central

This game was more than a little frustrating in that Duke put themselves in a position to win but couldn’t close it out.  Renfree threw the ball well for three quarters but struggled down the stretch, throwing an interception as the game ended.  Duke is still seeking that elusive win over Wake Forest and they had a golden opportunity to get the monkey off their back today.  The Blue Devils continue to struggle at home this season, now 1-4.  Duke falls to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the ACC and faces Virginia Tech at home next week.

Wake Forest is riding a 12-game winning streak in the series with Duke.

Blue Devils will try to end a streak against Wake Forest Saturday

Wake Forest is riding an 11-game winning streak in the series with Duke.

Duke (3-3, 1-1 ACC) will host in-state ACC rival Wake Forest (4-2, 3-1 ACC) on Saturday afternoon in Wallace Wade Stadium. The two programs are familiar foes, having met 91 times, including each of the last 44 seasons. The Blue Devils hold the all-time lead in the series, but the Demon Deacons have dominated their Tobacco Road rivals over the past decade. Duke’s last victory over Wake Forest came in 1999, and though the two teams have produced several competitive and memorable matchups since (5 games decided by less than a touchdown), the Demon Deacons have won 11 straight in the series. The Blue Devils will try to end that streak when the two teams kickoff at 12:30 PM ET on the ACC Network.

After a disappointing season in 2010, the Demon Deacons have been one of the ACC’s biggest surprises in 2011, with conference wins over NC State, Boston College, and Florida State. Wake Forest is led by a disciplined offense, which leads the ACC in red zone efficiency (89.7% scoring) and turnovers (5 total turnovers). The Demon Deacons feature a balanced attack led by QB Tanner Price (267 yards per game, 2nd in the ACC), WR Chris Givens (123 yards per game, 1st in the ACC) and RB Josh Harris (82 yards per game, 6th in the ACC). The defense has been opportunistic, forcing 9 turnovers on the season, but ranks last in the ACC with just 6 sacks.

Both Duke and Wake Forest were riding winning streaks before a conference loss last week, and both teams will look to get back on track this Saturday with a crucial ACC win.

Tanner Price led the Demon Deacons to a shootout victory over Duke last season- Blogger So Dear Photo

KEYS FOR DUKE

1. Limit Explosives: the Blue Devils got burned repeatedly last week against the Seminoles, and that helped put the game away early. The combination of Price and Givens has proven to be explosive this season for the Demon Deacons, as evidenced by a 79-yard TD catch last week against Virginia Tech and a season average of 18.5 yards per catch. Expect Ross Cockrell to have a busy day keeping tabs on Givens, and the entire Blue Devil secondary will have to help to keep him contained. Josh Harris is the key for the Wake Forest running game, but has been limited in practice this week. Expect senior Brandon Pendergrass to help shoulder the load, and look for Duke’s Kelby Brown and Matt Daniels to have a big role in stopping the Deacs on the ground.

2. Take care of the football: Duke has improved on their turnover ratio from a season ago, but continue to give the ball away. QB Sean Renfree threw a costly tipped pass interception early in the game against FSU last week, and that helped to set the tone of the game. Wake Forest has been the best in the ACC at taking care of the football, and the Blue Devils cannot afford to give the Demon Deacons extra possessions on Saturday.

3. Find an unlikely hero: we’re at the halfway point of the season, and every team is bound to have injuries. They have certainly piled up for the Blue Devils, but Duke has showcased some of their improved depth over the past few weeks. Heading into Saturday, there are three key positions of concern for the Blue Devils, where young players will be needed to step up. Duke’s secondary is slowly healing, but several players are hurting, including a few not listed on the official injury report. Lee Butler, Johnny Williams, and August Campbell all appear on this week’s injury report, which means that players like Zach Greene and Jordon Byas will have to take on a larger role again this week against an explosive Wake Forest passing game. The Blue Devils have significant injuries to two potential offensive line starters in David Harding and Brian Moore. Both players may be able to play, but will be far from 100%, which means that Conor Irwin may again have to take some snaps at center. Lastly, senior WR Donovan Varner continues to nurse a hamstring injury that will limit him on Saturday, meaning more snaps for freshmen Jamison Crowder and Blair Holliday. A combination of these young players will have to make an impact for the Blue Devils to get the W on Saturday.

GAME ANALYSIS

Turnovers

Wake Forest +4, Duke -2

Duke has made significant improvements in limiting turnovers this season, but continue to struggle in forcing turnovers. The Blue Devils rank 3rd in the ACC with just 8 turnovers on the season, but are last in the conference with just 6 takeaways of their own. Similarly, the Demon Deacons are 1st in the ACC with just 5 turnovers, but 8th in takeaways with 9.

Sacks

Duke 10, Wake Forest 6

Two of the ACC’s worst pass rushes will face off on Saturday, with the Blue Devils having slightly more success thus far. The Duke offensive line has also done a slightly better job protecting their QB, having given up 13 sacks on the year versus 16 allowed by Wake Forest.

3rd Down

Duke 40%, Wake Forest 37%

Again, both teams fall in the bottom half of the conference in 3rd down efficiency. The Wake Forest defense has held opponents to just 34% on 3rd downs, which means that the Blue Devil offense will have to execute well to move the chains on Saturday.

Explosives

With two of the top WRs in the country squaring off on Saturday, the team that does the better job defensively will win this game. These two defenses will be challenged to keep their opponents’ offense grounded with stars like Conner Vernon and Chris Givens. In their losses, the Blue Devils have been burned by explosive plays, especially through the air. If Price is able to find Givens in open space, it will be a long afternoon for the Blue Devils.

Rushing TDs

Duke 12, Wake Forest 8

This statistic is very misleading. The Blue Devils have the worst red zone offense in the ACC, scoring on just 73.9% of trips to the red zone. When Duke does score, it’s usually on the ground, with 12 rushing TDs to just 2 passing TDs in the red zone. Wake Forest is tops in the ACC, scoring on nearly 90% of their trips to the red zone, and feature a balanced red zone offense with 8 rushing TDs and 6 passing TDs.

Field Goals

Wake Forest 92%, Duke 40%

While much of Dukes struggles in the kicking game came early in the season, the Blue Devils still have improvements to make. Wake Forest’s Jimmy Newman is 1st in the ACC with an average of 2 made FGs per game.

Penalties

Duke 36.2 yards per game, Wake Forest 49.7 yards per game

Surprisingly the Demon Deacons rank next to last in the ACC in penalty yards per game. The Blue Devils continue to be one of the more disciplined teams in the conference. Duke will have to continue to play good fundamental football on Saturday, as their margin for error against a confident and talented Wake Forest team is slim.

PREDICTION

With 11 straight wins in the series, it’d be an understatement to say the Demon Deacons have the Blue Devils’ number. Both teams enter the game bumped and bruised and fresh off an ACC loss. Wake Forest has been the more consistent team and have done a good job taking care of the football. With a depleted offensive line, expect a light workload for Duke’s running backs and quick throws from Sean Renfree. A hamstring injury to Donovan Varner will provide an opportunity for young Jamison Crowder and Blair Holliday to step up. The Blue Devil defense will have their hands full trying to stop Wake Forest’s combination of Tanner Price, Chris Givens, and Josh Harris. The team that takes care of the football will emerge the victor.

Wake Forest 34, Duke 31

Week 8 Football Picks – Duke takes on Wake Forest

The BDN Staff takes on the nation’s ten toughest games to predict again this week. We are all now chasing Bob Green, who has a two game lead.  Three pick Duke to upset Wake Forest this weekend, and we all hope you turn out to root the Blue Devils on.

Current Standings
1. Bob
2. Patrick -2
3. Andrew -3
4. Guest -5
5. Mark -6

Mark Watson – The Blue Devils will get the Wake Forest monkey off their back this weekend as Sean Renfree throws for 4 TD’s. The key for Duke will be to get off to a good start and protect the ball.  I think the Dukies win this one – Duke 37 Wake 34

Bob Green - Wake Forest has won 11 straight games against Duke and will arrive at Wallace Wade Stadium this week as the favorite to win number 12. The Demon Deacons have looked strong along the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball, in the two games I’ve watched them this season (Syracuse and Florida State) so Duke’s linemen are going to have to step up and win the battle in the trenches if the Blue Devils are to walk off the field victorious.

At the skill positions, Tanner Price is 2nd in the ACC in Passing Yards per Game while Sean Renfree is third. Conner Vernon and Chris Givens are tied for 1st in Receptions per Game, and Donovan Varner and Michael Companaro are tied for 7th so the teams are evenly matched in the passing game. Wake’s Josh Harris averages 82.4 yards on the ground, which is sixth in the ACC, while Duke doesn’t have a runner in the Top 10.

Wake Forest leads the ACC in Red Zone Offense and has a plus four (+4) Turnover Margin, while Duke is dead last in Red Zone Offense and has a minus two (-2) Turnover Margin. The Blue Devils have no margin for error in this game so they must invert these two statistics by playing 60 minutes of mistake free football and take advantage of all scoring opportunites. Duke 31, Wake Forest 27

Patrick Cacchio - With 11 straight wins in the series, it’d be an understatement to say the Demon Deacons’ have the Blue Devils’ number. Both teams enter the game bumped and bruised and fresh off an ACC loss. Wake Forest has been the more consistent team and have done a good job taking care of the football. With a depleted offensive line, expect a light workload for Duke’s running backs and quick throws from Sean Renfree. A hamstring injury to Donovan Varner will provide an opportunity for young Jamison Crowder and Blair Holliday to step up. The Blue Devil defense will have their hands full trying to stop Wake Forest’s combination of Tanner Price, Chris Givens, and Josh Harris. The team that takes care of the football will emerge the victor. Wake Forest 34, Duke 31.

Andrew Slater - Although there have been several near victories (notably in 2006 and 2008), Duke is looking to end an eleven-game losing streak to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-2). Wake’s fifth-year senior WR Chris Givens, already with receiving yards, is on pace to break several Wake Forest receiving records. Facing the ACC’s third best passing offense, Duke’s banged up secondary will need to regain some confidence (currently 106th in the NCAA in pass defense) and look to contain Givens. In terms of maintaining ball possession, Wake Forest has been very disciplined this season, as they are +4 in turnover margin. In games in which Wake has lost the turnover battle under Coach Jim Grobe, they are 8-27. Thus far, QB Tanner Price has only thrown three interceptions in six games this season. Both quarterbacks have been successful through the air, with Duke averaging 297.3 yards through the air and Wake’s Tanner Price averaging 267 passing yards. Last season, QB Sean Renfree was able to throw for 358 yards in a high scoring loss (54-48) to the Deacons. Although Duke certainly is capable of winning what is a “must win” for both sides, Wake should be able to narrowly prevail for yet another road victory over the Devils in the Jim Grobe era. If Duke can pull off the upset, it will help slay another dragon and gives the Devils an outside shot at its first bowl game in years. Wake Forest 31, Duke 24.

Terry Rains - I’m going out on a small limb here and predicting Duke over Wake, 31-28. I’ve had this game circled on my Duke FB calendar as a measuring stick for this season. A victory here would go a long way in reassuring the fanbase that a signature win (like Wake’s recent win over FSU) is on the horizon. Let’s Go Devils! Duke 31, Wake Forest 28.