ACC division leaders clash Saturday in Tallahassee

The Duke defense will have its hands full against FSU's playmakers on Saturday.

Duke at Florida State
3:30 PM ET
Saturday, October 27
Tallahassee, Florida


Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Duke: 6-2 (3-1 ACC), defeated UNC, 33-30
FSU: 7-1 (4-1 ACC), defeated Miami, 33-20

Last year: FSU defeated Duke 41-16 in Durham

PROBABLE: DE Dezmond Johnson (lower body), DT Jamal Wallace (lower body)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Brandon Connette (shoulder)
DOUBTFUL: S Brandon Braxton (lower body)
OUT: CB Jared Boyd (leg), LB Kelby Brown (leg), TE Braxton Deaver (leg), S Anthony Young-Wiseman (leg)
OUT FOR SEASON: TE Jack Farrell (leg), WR Blair Holliday, DE Allen Jackson (shoulder), S Corbin McCarthy (shoulder), S Taylor Sowell (leg)


OUT: S Justin Bright (head), LB Ukeme Eligwe (hand), OL Garrett Faircloth (hip), WR Josh Gehres (hamstring), DT Moses McCray (head), DT Derrick Mitchell (back), OL Trey Pettis (head)
OUT FOR SEASON: RB Mario Pender (sports hernia), RB Chris Thompson (ACL), DE Brandon Jenkins (foot)


The Blue Devils have not won a game against a ranked opponent on the road since 1971. This Duke team has ended a number of losing streaks, but they face their toughest task of the season on Saturday. Coach Cutcliffe has struggled to find a weakness in this Florida State team, and he's right. They are one of the top defensive units in the country, they have a balanced offensive attack, and they have great specialists. Duke will have to play not only their best game of 2012, but their best game in the past 18 years, to win on Saturday. No single play or player can win or lose this game for Duke. The Blue Devils have to come out and compete for a full 60 minutes. They absolutely cannot turn the ball over. Defensively, they have to limit explosives and contain the Seminoles on the ground. The key on offense will be balance, as Duke will have to be creative with their play calls and schemes to keep the Seminoles guessing. If FSU does have a weakness, it may be in their secondary, which has rarely been tested this year. NC State did have success throwing the ball against this defense, totaling 259 yards and 2 touchdowns. Duke doesn't have to be perfect, but they have to be pretty close.


Florida State has to do what they have done successfully in their wins this year - control the line of scrimmage. FSU ranks in the top ten in the country in nearly every defensive statistic. They are nearly impossible to run against, and they put great pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Offensively, they have a number of playmakers, and with the loss of Chris Thompson, speedy James Wilder, Jr. will see an increase in opportunities for big plays. The Seminoles had a hiccup on the road against NC State, and they will have to avoid making those same mistakes against the Blue Devils on Saturday. In that loss, they ran for just 3.5 yards per carry and finished 3/15 on 3rd downs. EJ Manuel will be looking for some explosive plays against this Duke defense, which has given up its share of points in losses to Stanford and Virginia Tech. FSU will look to make a big play early to seize the momentum in this game and put the Blue Devils in a hole.


Simply, they will win at the line of scrimmage. The Seminoles have dominated several games this year by shutting down opposing offenses and controlling the game on the ground. Even with the loss of Chris Thompson, this is a very talented FSU backfield, and they will run the ball successfully against the Blue Devils, opening up a few big plays for EJ Manuel through the air. Duke has struggled in games where they have not run the ball effectively. They were impressive last week against an above average UNC run defense, and will have to be even better this week if they hope to keep it close with the Seminoles. Florida State 35, Duke 16

Know the opponent: Florida State Seminoles

The 6-2 Blue Devils will travel to Tallahassee on Saturday to take on the 7-1 Seminoles.

After not playing since 2007, the Blue Devils and Seminoles meet for the second year in a row on Saturday as 6-2 Duke travels to 7-1 Florida State. The match up features two first place ACC teams, as Duke leads the Coastal Division and Florida State is the front-runner in the Atlantic. Ranking near the top of the league in almost every category in all three phases of the game, the 'Noles will be a tough test for the bowl-bound Blue Devils.

To give us an inside look at the Seminoles and their 2012 season, BDN welcomes back Rich at ChantRant.

Florida State entered the 2012 season as a popular choice as a national championship contender. Their loss a few weeks ago seemed to quiet some of that talk. How have the players and coaches responded since their loss? What is the mood among the fan base; is there still hope for a national championship?
Derailed. That’s how every FSU fan I know took the loss to N.C. State and what it meant for any national championship hopes. In the past few weeks, the players have suggested that maybe they didn’t take the Wolfpack seriously enough. Linebacker Telvin Smith said this week that the N.C. State game proved “You can’t take it (the night) off against anybody.” So the Noles know they absolutely cannot afford to slip up or have a poor showing the rest of the season -- not if they want to be in a New Years day bowl and have the slightest chance of slipping into the championship talk. As for the fans, we’re just keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best, though still a bit leery of a team that still hasn’t played a complete game from start to finish this year.
Coach Cutcliffe feels that Florida State is one of the few teams in the country without a legitimate weakness. Sure enough, the Seminoles rank in the top ten in the country in total offense and total defense, and have one of the top placekickers in the country. Is there a weakness to this team? How did NC State manage to upset FSU?
The weakness is what I mentioned above: FSU has been hot and cold in pretty much every game throughout the season. Even against two FCS schools when the outcome was never in doubt, the offense (primarily) has been “streaky.” In the two biggest wins of the year -- Clemson and Miami -- both the offense and defense couldn’t match the opponents intensity at times. So an optimist would say this team is great at coming from behind.

At N.C. State, the Noles played strong in the first half and led 16-0 at the break. Then the second half was their downfall. Coach Fisher caught a barrage of criticism for going conservative -- playing not to lose -- on offense. Meanwhile, the defense couldn’t adjust to the Wolfpack crossing routes, giving up the winning score with seconds on the clock.

It's never a good thing for a team to lose a player as good as Chris Thompson, both on and off the field. How has the team taken his injury? What do you expect the Seminole offense to look like in his absence?
While Thompson has been the starter and leading rusher during the season, two other backs have been major contributors in kind of a “thunder and lightning” combination. The lightning is Devonta Freeman, a 5-8, 200lb. sophomore in the Chris Thompson mold. He hits an opening quickly and can slip through and around the second level. Fellow soph James Wilder, Jr., is the thunder. At 6-2, 220+ he loves to hammer defenses, using the stiff-arm to keep opponents away. Talk about loving contact -- Wilder said this week that part of his job is to “wear down (opposing) linebackers.” Bottom line: As long as these two stay healthy FSU’s run game should continue to be a threat.
The Seminoles have scored big on offense this year, but the most impressive numbers are the zeroes that the defense has put up consistently, holding half of their opponents to under 10 points, including two shutouts. Led by veteran linemen Cornelius Carradine and Bjoern Werner, the FSU defense is tops in the ACC and ranks 2nd against the run and 5th against the pass nationally. If you were an opposing offensive coordinator, how would you try to attack this defensive unit? 
Exactly how N.C. State did. Obviously Wolfpack coaches saw a vulnerability in FSU’s secondary -- the inability to shutdown crossing routes -- and exploited it all night. I’d bet that Duke coaches have learned from that game film and are planning a similar attack. They’d be crazy not to. Nole fans were very disappointed that defensive coordinator Mark Stoops wasn’t able to adjust to the crossing routes (Telvin Smith said “that game kind of humbled me,” and “exposed trying to get our match-ups” right.) But FYI, in the last few weeks Stoops has shown a new defensive alignment called the “Six Pack” designed to stop those routes. It maximizes DB coverage and puts a bigger safety -- Karlos Williams, 6-2, 229 -- against tight ends dragging over the middle.
By my math, the Blue Devils have never come within three scores of the Seminoles, but 2012 has been anything but a typical year for Duke football. How do you expect the game in Tallahassee between the Atlantic and Coastal Division leaders to play out?
That all depends on FSU’s ability to play a complete game, or at least three strong quarters. It hasn’t happened yet, even in the highest stake games. Will the Noles “want” it more than Duke? They obviously didn’t against the Wolfpack and superior talent at most positions couldn’t carry the day. Asked about the Duke game, linebacker Telvin Smith said, “We’ve gotta bring our A game. Start with a bang and finish with a bang.”

Another factor is the physical. Will bodies that have been through eight straight weeks of pounding in games and practice (next week FSU finally has an open date) be up to the challenge of a Blue Devil team fighting to be in the ACC title game?

Unlike previous years, Nole fans know that without a strong effort -- both in getting up for the game and playing at a high level -- this one could slip away much like three weeks ago in Raleigh.

BDN Video – Duke defeats UNC and takes the Victory Bell – The Celebration

The win against North Carolina which made the Duke Blue Devils bowl eligible is one of the biggest accomplishments in the Coach Cutcliffe Era at Duke.  BDN Video takes you back to moment where you can relive each Duke score via out highlights reel and then be a part of the celebration where #DukeGang paints the Victory Bell and takes it to its new home.  Enjoy!

BDN’s Countdown to Craziness Highlight Video – Get pumped!

Blue Devil Nation brings you our Countdown to Craziness Highlights Video and we hope you enjoy it.  We've partnered with Ball is Life and will be bringing you more prospect videos than ever as we continue to make out site all it can be.  Join BDN Premium today for full site access and Duke-centric coverage. Enjoy the show and please feel free to link or embed the video -

Friday Night Lights – More Impressive Performances

Welcome back Blue Devil faithful for another edition of Friday Night Lights, where Blue Devil Nation takes you on a national tour covering all the high school action from North Carolina to California and back.

This week's action kicked off on Thursday night in Florida as Quarterback Parker Boehme and Jacksonville Sandalwood defeated DeLand, 28-14, in a nationally televised game on ESPNU. Sandalwood improved to 5-2 on the season.

Boehme completed 10 of 18 passes for 122 yards including an 11 yard  [private] touchdown pass. He also rushed for 123 yards on 18 carries.

Also in Florida, Quarterback T.J. Douglas threw a 60 yard touchdown pass and ran for two touchdowns of 90 and 11 yards as Fort Myers defeated North Fort Myers 41-7.

In North Carolina, Duke's most recent verbal commit, cornerback Bryon Fields, lamented Providence Day's tough loss. "We had a tough loss, 17-7 to rival Country Day. They really did a lot to keep the ball out of my hands on offense and special teams and stayed away from me on the pass, but I played decent run support and I still had four or five catches. I had eight touchdowns in the previous 3 games, so they really made an effort to limit my production."

In Virginia, Hidden Valley defeated Pulaski 14-10. Safety Jake Kite described his performance, "It went really well...I had an 89 yard kick return for a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the 1st half, and I had 15 tackles, three tackles for loss, I forced a fumble and had three catches for 40 yards."

Also in Virginia, Woodbridge lost to Hylton 20-15. Woodbridge kicked a 20 yard field goal to take a 15-14 fourth quarter lead before Hylton return the ensuing kickoff 67 yards for the winning touchdown. Cornerback Evrett Edwards of Woodbridge commented on his performance, "I did well with two catches for 62 yards, a kickoff return for 48 yards, a pass break-up and a fumble recovery."

Walker (Marietta, GA) defeated Kings Ridge Christian 24-6. "I blocked a punt and had two sacks," said Defensive Tackle Mike Ramsay, "The game went great and we are 7-0."

In Texas, Mansfield Offensive Lineman Austin Davis described his team's 37-16 victory over Duncanville: "Our defense came up huge and our offense wore down their defense. We pulled together as a team!"

In California, running back Joseph Ajeigbe rushed 19 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns as Norco shut out Roosevelt 37-0. Ajeigbe scored on runs of 18 and 2 yards.

Finishing up the 2013 coverage in North Carolina, Cornerback Breon Borders intercepted a pass in the second half as his Statesville squad defeated East Rowan 59-39.

Wilson Fike doubled up Northern Nash 42-21. "We lost again," commented cornerback Quay Mann, "I rushed for one touchdown, but didn't do much on defense.  It's stressful when the opposing QB doesn't even look my way. I've only been thrown at three times this season!"

2014 Report:

Quarterback Kendall Hinton tossed a 46 yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds remaining in the game to rally Southern Durham to a 27-23 victory over Northern Durham.

Josh Cabrera caught a 10 yard touchdown pass in Northside's 34-0 shutout of Clinton. Northside improves to 10-0 on the year and hosts 9-1 East Duplin on Friday night to determine the ECC Champion.

Finally, the second section of this article describes Pennsylvania running back Shai McKenzie's statistics. McKenzie has averaged 36.2 yards per carry on his 24 rushing touchdowns this season.

That is all for this week. Be sure and check back next week for another edition of Friday Night Lights here at Blue Devil Nation, the number one site for Duke football coverage. [/private]