QB Sean Renfree finally gets a win against rival UNC, and leads Duke to a bowl game

QB Sean Renfree has led the Blue Devils to a 6-2 record and their first bowl since 1994. - BDN Photo

DURHAM - Duke redshirt-senior QB Sean Renfree had watched the Blue Devils fall to the rival North Carolina Tar Heels in each of his first four seasons in Durham. In his final game against UNC, however, Renfree led the Blue Devils on a game-winning drive in the final minutes to capture the 33-30 victory. Renfree finished the night 23/36 for 276 yards, and 1 big touchdown to Jamison Crowder in the closing seconds. BDN spoke with the Blue Devils' captain after the game to get his thoughts on the catch, the win, and bowl eligibility.

Duke defeats North Carolina after Jamison Crowder’s late TD catch

WR Jamison Crowder celebrates his game winning TD catch - BDN Photo

DURHAM - The Blue Devils led for most of the game against rival UNC on Saturday night in Wallace Wade Stadium, but found themselves trailing with just seconds to go. On a 4th and 2 from the 5 yard line, Sean Renfree found sophomore WR Jamison Crowder across the middle for what would prove to be the game-winning catch. The victory earned the Blue Devils bowl eligibility for the first time since 1994 and returned the Victory Bell to Durham for the first time since 2003. BDN spoke with the Blue Devils' star receiver after the big win.


Key Prospects Tour Duke Campus

BDN Photo

There is never a shortage of feel good moments for Duke fans when Countdown to Craziness kicks off the basketball season and on Friday night a celebration of the program ensued. Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his program had more than just this years team on display during the festivities. They also had a bevy of highly rated and key future prospects in attendance and they hope it will not be these young mens last visit to Durham.

It wasn't long after BDN began it's coverage of the event that all of the Duke Assistant Coaches, Jeff Capel, Chris Collins and Steve Wojociechowski came walking down the steps beside the Swartz-Butters Building which houses Coach K on the top floor with all of the visiting prospects.   Among [private] those were a point guard who does nothing but make his team better and win, Tyus Jones.

BDN Photo

Jones is believed to have Duke and Michigan State at the top of his list, so it was important that Duke made a good impression and from afar it appears that may have happened. Also attending was a 6-10 behemoth from Chicago Jahlil Okafor and a sleek wing in North Carolina native Theo Pinson. All three of these players played on one of the better Team USA Development Teams in recent memory and all know one another from the AAU circuit as well. Depending on how your perceive information, it is said that these guys along with Justise Winslow would not mind playing together in college.

Duke also had a visit from another stud prospect in Karl Towns and a junior high sensation and specimen in Harry Giles.

Anyhow, back to the walk through campus by the prospects. As they descended down the steps quite a few Duke fans took notice and trust me from the folks I met who follow or are members of BDN, a lot of them and others were well aware of these kids visits. Suddenly, there was a small mob of picture and autograph seekers and the guys took time out to accommodate the fans.


BDN Photo

Several minutes past before the prospects made their way fully onto the concourse with K-Ville dead ahead. By that time, owrd had spread and more Duke fans were taking notice. I could not help but think how disappointed some kids would be after getting their Duke caps and such signed for these guys not to matriculate but the greeting is one the average fan would have hoped for and a positive thing.

As they got closer to K-Ville, several groups of students, mainly coeds, held signs up letting each player know they were wanted in Durham. All of them seemed touched if not a tad embarrassed by the moment but all were certainly impressed by the situation. The group then made their way towards the Chapel and campus and later appeared behind the bench in Cameron as the event took place.

BDN Photo

All of them sat directly behind Coach Krzyzewski and he would often turn to them individually and collectively and chat of what was happening on the court or offering some nuggets of wisdom. Several times during the game you could hear their names shouted but there were never any orchestrated cheers which lasted long but each of these kids knew they were honored guests.

If body language is any indication, the group enjoyed themselves and the Duke atmosphere and there were several times where the group had collective laughs at various antics, such as Marshall Plumlee dancing with his crutches. No real information past that at this time but I sure more will come out at some point today and I will pass on what I can.   Talk about it on the BDN Premium Message Board.  [/private]

Can Duke claim the Victory Bell and bowl eligibility against rival UNC on Saturday?

Senior WR Conner Vernon will look to get his first win against rival UNC on Saturday - BDN Photo

North Carolina at Duke
7:00 PM ET
Saturday, October 20
Durham, NC


Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Duke: 5-2 (2-1 ACC), lost at Virginia Tech, 20-41
UNC: 5-2 (2-1 ACC), defeated Miami, 18-14

Last year: UNC defeated Duke 37-21 in Chapel Hill

PROBABLE: NG Jamal Bruce (foot), DE Justin Foxx (hand), S Chris Tavarez (leg)
QUESTIONABLE: OT Takoby Cofield (lower body), QB Brandon Connette (shoulder), DE Dezmond Johnson (lower body), DT Jamal Wallace (lower body)
OUT: CB Jared Boyd (leg), LB Kelby Brown (leg), TE Braxton Deaver (leg)
OUT FOR SEASON: TE Jack Farrell (leg), WR Blair Holliday, DE Allen Jackson (shoulder), S Corbin McCarthy (shoulder), S Taylor Sowell (leg)


OUT: TE Sean Fitzpatrick, RB Connor Gonet, OL T.J. Leifheit, LB Darius Lipford, RB Travis Riley, PK Miller Snyder, WR T.J. Thorpe
*UNC only lists players who are out on their injury report


The Tar Heels have two losses on the season, and in each of those games, they've allowed over 400 total yards to their opponents, including over 300 yards passing. The Blue Devils have to follow that blueprint and move the ball through the air against a relatively weak Tar Heel secondary, but that's not the entire story. Yes, Duke has a potent passing game with terrific receivers in Conner Vernon, Jamsion Crowder, and Desmond Scott, but when you look at their first 7 games in 2012, it's their ability to run the ball that has been the difference. The Blue Devils have eclipsed the 100 yard rushing mark in 5 games this year - they've won all 5. In their two losses, Duke had a combined total of 49 rushing yards. Duke has to come out and establish a balanced offensive attack. North Carolina has shown that they can and will give up yards and points. The Blue Devils must take advantage. If Sean Renfree eclipses the 300 yard mark passing AND Duke totals over 100 yards rushing, Duke wins this game.


Obviously, if the inverse of the above is true, UNC will win. If UNC shuts down the Blue Devil running game, much as Virginia Tech and Stanford have done, then it will be another long night in Wallace Wade Stadium for Duke fans. Duke was dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball last week, and they will have to put up a much better effort against the Tar Heels. North Carolina will look to put Sean Renfree on the ground, and have already totaled 17 sacks on the season and allowed just 4. Of course, North Carolina can put up points themselves, led by electrifying RB Gio Bernard. Bernard ran for 165 yards against Duke last year, and he is likely to put up numbers again this year. The key for UNC will be to try and take advantage of the Duke defense with explosive plays, much as Virginia Tech did last week. The Blue Devil defense allowed four touchdowns of over 40 yards last week against the Hokies. North Carolina has the playmakers to put up similar numbers, and they will be looking to score quickly and often against a seemingly vulnerable Duke defense. If Duke loses the line of scrimmage, allows explosive plays, and loses the field position battle, North Carolina will keep the Victory Bell.


Duke had a golden opportunity to end a streak at Virginia Tech last week, but failed to finish after opening a 20-0 lead. This is a talented Duke team, and the game on Saturday comes down to how well Duke plays more than what North Carolina is able to do. Gio Bernard and the Tar Heel offense will put up points. Duke has to minimize explosive plays, improve their tackling, and compete much harder at the line of scrimmage than they did last week. The Blue Devils have to establish a balanced offensive attack that keeps the North Carolina defense on their heels. Most importantly, it's time for Duke to seize their moment. The Victory Bell returns to Durham for the first time since 2003. The goal posts in Wallace Wade come down. The Blue Devils are going bowling for the first time since 1994. GTHC. Duke 38, UNC 35