DURHAM - Duke redshirt-senior DE Kenny Anunike posted one sack and one forced fumble against Memphis on Saturday night in Duke's 38-14 victory. Senior safety Jordon Byas returned for his first action of the 2012 season after knee surgery in August. The Blue Devil defensive back finished the night with six tackles, as the Duke defense held the Tigers to just 152 yards of total offense. BDN was on hand to discuss the victory with both defensive stars on Saturday night.
After a flat first half performance that left them clinging to a 17-14 lead, the Duke Blue Devils came out of the locker room and dominated the Memphis Tigers en route to a 38-14 win, which pushed Duke's season record to 3-1. The Blue Devil defense held its winless opponent without a point in the second half, and Duke easily outgained the Tigers, racking up a 500-152 advantage in total yards.
Sean Renfree threw four touchdown passes in the contest and finished with 314 yards through the air on 26 of 37 passing. Two of those touchdowns went to Duke's All-ACC wideout Conner Vernon, who also had a team-high 120 yards receiving. Renfree's other touchdown passes went to do-it-all Brandon Connette and converted running back Desmond Scott. Connette's grab was his first TD reception as a Blue Devil.
Another bright spot on the evening for Duke was true freshman running back Jela Duncan, who led the rushing attack with 88 yards on 9 carries. He broke off a 52 yard scamper at a time when Duke needed momentum after suffering four brutal turnovers.
It wasn't a pretty first half, but the Blue Devils reached deep and took care of business in the second half on Homecoming, and seemed to get through the contest with minimal injuries -- which is key considering how the Blue Devils have already been battling the injury bug this season. Duke likely played it close to the vest on Saturday night, as the game was never seriously in doubt. The Devils likely did not want to show too much as they head into the ACC opener at Wake Forest next week. The Blue Devils are in close to a must-win situation against the Deacons should they want to keep their bowl hopes alive.
Stay tuned to Blue Devil Nation for post-game comments from Coach Cutcliffe and the players.
The Voice of the Blue Devils, Bob Harris, along with BDN's Bob Green, took the week 3 honors, correctly picking 8 out of 10 games. His week 3 performance propelled Harris into a 3-way tie atop the overall leaderboard with BDN's Andrew Slater and Patrick Cacchio. Here are this week's standings:
The NFL season is in full swing, and Blue Devil Greats Vinny Rey and Matt Daniels were both victorious in their week 2 contests last Sunday. Vinny helped the Bengals to a 34-27 win over Thad Lewis' Cleveland Browns, totaling 7 tackles and 1 sack on the afternoon. Daniels' Rams escaped with a 31-28 victory over Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. This Sunday, the Rams travel to Chicago, while the Browns host the Bills, and the Bengals try their luck against RGIII's Redskins.
Before Sunday's NFL matchups, however, stands a full slate of marquee college football games on Saturday. Eight ranked teams will square off against each other this week, including Michigan's trip to South Bend to take on the Irish, and Bill Snyder's Wildcats invading Norman to try and upset the Sooners. The top two ACC programs square off in a nationally-televised primetime game, as Tajh Boyd's Clemson Tigers will try their luck against a tough Florida State defense. Elsewhere in the ACC, Virginia will try to upset the Horned Frogs of TCU, while Miami will try to slow the Ramblin' Wreck. Riding a two-game losing streak, the Tar Heels look to get back on track against in-state rival ECU. And of course, it's Homecoming in Durham, with the Blue Devils listed as heavy favorites against the 0-3 Memphis Tigers.
Here are this week's picks:
Patrick Cacchio: The Blue Devils will build off of their performance in last week's win, as the offense looks to find consistency. Expect to see more touches for Josh Snead and Jela Duncan, along with the continued strong play of Conner Vernon, Jamison Crowder, and Desmond Scott. The Blue Devil secondary will again come up with some opportunistic takeaways to put the game away. Duke, 48-21.
Bob Green: In recent interviews, Coach Cutcliffe has emphasized the need for consistent execution. Memphis represents the last opportunity for Duke to fine tune their offense prior to the start of the ACC schedule so I expect to see Blue Devils seniors and offensive captains Sean Renfree and Conner Vernon exert influence and lead the team in an impressive performance.
Memphis has been yielding 483 yards of total offense to opponents so far this season, which is ranked 108th out of 120 teams. They have given up 264 yards through the air (91/120) and 219 yards on the ground (108/120).
Duke ran the ball better in the second half against NCCU after switching to a formation with Renfree under center. It will not be surprising to see Duke start the Memphis game in this formation in an attempt to establish a strong running attack to set-up play action passes to their cadre of talented receivers.
This game will be all about executing fundamentals sharply. Duke is too talented in all phases of the game for Memphis to keep this one competitive. Duke 42, Memphis 18.
Andrew Slater: In their homecoming game, the Blue Devils have an excellent opportunity to move to 3-1 on the season for the first time since Coach Cutcliffe's initial season at Duke against the Tigers of Memphis. I expect the Tigers to be competitive against Duke through the first quarter and then the depth and talent differential should work in Duke's favor. Teams have had success running the ball (4.8 yds/ carry) against Memphis and I expect that the staff will try to utilize this pre-ACC game to work on establishing the run and imbue the players with confidence. In terms of pass protection, Memphis has not registered a sack yet this season and Duke has done a good job of avoiding sacks, only giving up two sacks through three games. The Tigers will be missing their most explosive runner, Durham native Jerrell Rhodes, due to personal reasons, which should force them to throw even more short passes than they otherwise would have in order to maintain ball control (averaging over twenty-seven minutes of possession per game). 37-17 Duke
Mark Watson: The Blue Devils can set up a huge game with Wake Forest next week with a win and they'll rise to the occasion and come away with victory versus the Tigers. Look for Renfree to build off his performance against NCCU and Conner Vernon to bounce back with a huge game. Duke 46 Memphis 17
Bob Harris: Duke scores 37.7 PPG, Memphis gives up 37.7. Duke gives up 31.0, Tigers score 25.0. Devils WIN 37.7-28.0, according to stats. ACTUAL FINAL: DUKE 49-MEMPHIS 14
Matt Daniels: Similar to last week's game, Duke is the better team and it is homecoming! Duke 42, Memphis 10
Thad Lewis: We scored in all three phases of the game last week. Looking forward to building on it this week with more consistent play. Duke 38, Memphis 17
Vinny Rey: The Blue Devil offense will again make many plays, and the defense will cause turnovers. Duke 34, Memphis 24
Duke in 2012: 2-1, beat NCCU 54-17
Memphis in 2012: 0-3, lost to MTSU 30-48
PROBABLE - LB Kyler Brown (upper body), S Jordon Byas (leg), S Walt Canty (shoulder), WR Jamison Crowder (upper body)
QUESTIONABLE - OG Lucas Patrick (ankle)
OUT - CB Jared Boyd (leg), LB Kelby Brown (leg), NG Jamal Bruce (foot), S August Campbell (upper body), TE Braxton Deaver (leg), TE Jack Farrell (leg), LB Brendan Fowler (upper body), DE Justin Foxx (hand)
OUT FOR SEASON - WR Blair Holliday, DE Allen Jackson (shoulder), S Corbin McCarthy, S Taylor Sowell (leg)
QUESTIONABLE - WR Kevin Wright (knee), TE Justin Henderson (foot)
OUT - RB Jerrell Rhodes (personal)
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
Score points, lots of them. The Tigers are allowing nearly 500 yards of total offense to opponents this year, and allowed 48 points to Middle Tennessee last Saturday. Duke has the most experienced and talented offense that Memphis has seen so far this year, and the Blue Devils should be able to move the ball with ease. Sean Renfree should step up to bring better consistency for the Duke offense, and continue to get the ball downfield to Conner Vernon, Jamison Crowder, and Desmond Scott. The Blue Devils finally got their running game going in the second half last week, and should put together a better performance against a Memphis defensive line that ranks in the bottom 10 in the FBS in sacks and tackles for loss. Look for Duke to find more touches for Josh Snead and Jela Duncan, two players who sparked Duke's 54 point performance in week 3. Defensively, Duke will need to remain opportunistic and come up with a key turnover or two against a Memphis team that has struggled to take care of the football. The Tigers will also be without their top rusher in Jerrell Rhodes this week, putting more pressure on transfer QB Jacob Karam. Expect to see Duke's defensive ends and safety blitzes looking to bring pressure on the first year starter.
HOW DUKE CAN LOSE
The Blue Devils have been vulnerable on special teams this year, and that's one area where Memphis has excelled so far in 2012. The Tigers will come in desperate for a win under first year Head Coach Justin Fuente, and a big play on special teams could give them just the kind of momentum they need in this game. The receiving tandem of Marcus Rucker and Keiwone Malone are averaging better than 150 yards per game, and going up against Duke's banged-up secondary, Memphis will look to get the ball in their hands downfield. Memphis has struggled with turnovers, but they've also created some takeaways on defense, and Duke will have to continue to take care of the football, as they did against NCCU. Another 4 turnover performance like the Blue Devils had at Stanford could help Memphis pull off the upset.
WHY DUKE WILL WIN
The Tigers are in a transition as they look to turn their program around after losing 34 of their last 39 games overall. Duke is a few years ahead of Memphis in their rebuilding efforts, and they have a more talented and experienced team across the board. The Blue Devils will use this game as their final tune up before ACC play, and expect to see the Duke offense put up big numbers against a struggling Memphis defensive unit. Duke's receivers will have a big day, and the running game will finally break off the big run they've been looking for. The depleted secondary will continue to find a way to make a big play, and Duke will take advantage of a Memphis team without its leading rusher, making for a long night for Karam and his offense. Duke 48, Memphis 21
As many of you know, the Duke Men's Basketball staff has been on the road for official in-home visits with many key prospects. For our members only, BDN Premium recaps the latest happenings and previews what is to come (and there is a lot) in our latest team and recruiting update.
As a refresher, let's start by recapping the visits that have already occurred. The first was with Semi Ojeleye, who went against the grain by not inviting the full-on media onslaught that so often accompanies these things. Ojeleye is considered a perfect fit at Duke and he knew exactly where he wanted to go after Blue Devils Coach Mike Krzyzewski gave his final presentation.
In committing to Duke, Ojeleye, of course, joins shooting guard Matt Jones in the (current) two-man Class of 2013. Jones committed to the Blue Devils long ago, but he still received a visit last week, which we'll recap in a later update.
The Blue Devils then checked out the Tennessee home of Austin Nichols. Nichols is as close to a prototypical Duke frontcourt player as you can get, being a 6'11" guy who can go inside/out. The worry from a few involved is that [private] Vanderbilt and Tennessee provide him an opportunity to play closer to home, and it is worth noting that his sister goes to Tennessee as well. Many continue to mention Virginia as a player in this recruitment too, but the style of play employed in the Cavaliers' system is a known turn-off. Nichols also raised some eyebrows when he decided not to participate with Team USA this past off-season, but that has not diminished Duke's interest in him. As mentioned in the last update, Duke gets an official visit with Nichols on October 6th, and the goal is to close the deal at that time or at least have a good indication of what will happen. One thing to look for is how he gets along with the players here. While Nichols is far from a sure thing, the staff does seem to feel good about him. Nichols was more of a priority for Duke than was Marcus Lee, the talented California frontcourt prospect who recently dropped the Blue Devils from his list.
The Blue Devils also went into the home of Julius Randle, but minus the gimmicks and bling the other coaches used. This week, five more schools follow Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina with in-home visits, yet the puzzling thing is everybody with a pulse knows not one of these other five will make the final cut. A lot of people have been in Randle's ear lately, and his recruitment is now the most hyped of his class. This one will go on for a long, long time, so strap yourself in for one stressful ride. I have been covering Duke recruiting for a long time, and I hoped to avoid the dog-and-pony show, but it never fails: one player changes his whole demeanor going into his senior year. It wasn't that long ago that Randle gave four schools every indication that they would be announced as the finalists and then bam, we now have ten in-home visits? In any event, at the in-home they were straightforward with Julius as to what they have to offer and why Duke presents such a good opportunity for him, and Duke still feels they are in good shape with him. The Blue Devils will be in it the day Randle chooses, but that day will not come until Spring.
But yes, Kentucky is in the mix in a big way and the Blue Devils cannot or will not match some of the things that Kentucky is about, offering a den of luxury and simpleton classes, easing the path for kids to coast to the League. They are pushing the envelope to the edge with NCAA rules. They use the hip-hop culture, power personalities that show the bling and spoils of the life many only read about, and then they convince kids they'll be in an environment that caters to their every whim. School? Really? Anyhow, Calipari and his assistant Orlando Antigua go to events like the Peach Jam, sit right in front of the NCAA Compliance people, and push the edges of the rules. They know exactly where the boundaries are, and have found ways to use them to their advantage. Kentucky doesn't hide the fact that they are a luxurious pit stop for prospects on their way to the NBA, and the lifestyle they offer is now swaying kids who valued education when growing up -- see Alex Poythress. The school is at the forefront of overhyped dog-and-pony shows and in today's culture, prospects who cannot see the bigger picture in life easily get caught up in it, making it a tough act for a school like Duke to go up against. Until something is done and the charade is halted, Kentucky will be a regular thorn in the side of everyone involved in the recruiting process.
Now, despite what I just said, I would not concede Julius Randle just yet. In no way do I feel BAD about Randle and Duke, but there was a time not long ago I thought the good guys were a prohibitive favorite. That in turn caused me to downplay Jabari Parker a bit, and I am not the only one who did so. The truth is Duke and other schools were asked to back off a bit on his recruitment awhile back, but they have been and will be in this one until the end as well. Despite what you have heard to date, let it go and start with a fresh take. Duke's in-home with the Parkers is on Friday, and it's a big deal as Coach K will join Chris Collins to sell the Duke way and their vision for Jabari. Duke would of course take both Parker and Randle but realistically, that will not happen in the current landscape. But they sure as heck would love to get one of them. Expect Krzyzewski to go after both equally hard. In fact, he is doing so already.
As you know, the staff also goes to see prospects work out in open gyms. The most recent visits have been to see Trey Lyles, Justise Winslow, Karl Towns and Grayson Allen. They will continue to monitor each of them closely. Duke went to Memphis on Wednesday to watch Austin Nichols and Coach Krzyzewski will go to see Trey Lyles again today, because he wants a firsthand view.
Duke will visit Jahlil Okafor as well, now that the teachers strike in Chicago is coming under control. The Blue Devils have stayed strong with the big man and feel they're in great shape at this time, but much work still needs to be done.
And let's not forget the consummate winner, the outstanding point guard Tyus Jones. I got word last evening that Coach K will drop in on him today, which leads me to talk of the fast approaching Countdown to Craziness. Jones has confirmed he will visit for the affair, as will Justise Winslow, a key target in his own right.
Duke expects to get 2015 big man Karl Towns in Durham for CTC, as well as Theo Pinson, who is still on the mend from an injury. The injury to Pinson seems to have made his camp a bit more proactive, possibly out of fear of falling behind in the process. The Pinsons have taken their time with the process, but it's getting to the point where they are starting to do some more serious looking, as well as watching more closely what other key players are doing in their recruitments.
That pretty much sums up the latest, and as always we ask that you keep the information here per contract agreement. A lot of times recruiting information is sensitive and does not belong in public forums, as those can give competitors unfair advantages. For me to continue to share information we all covet, it is important to adhere to set standards.
In closing, thanks for being a member of Blue Devil Nation Premium and supporting our efforts to bring you the best coverage available. Please let others know about us, and if you have further questions on hoops recruiting, Andrew or myself will do our best to answer them on the message board. [/private]
Two key performances in the win over NCCU were turned in by defensive lineman Dezmond Johnson and ACC defensive back of the week Ross Cockrell. BDN checked in with both players yesterday hearing their thoughts on the upcoming game with Memphis at 6:00 on Saturday in Wallace Wade Stadium.