The Duke Blue Devils football team will take on Troy this weekend in Wallace Wade Stadium in a game which represents the schools homecoming. Duke is coming off a tough loss to Pitt in a game that dropped the team to 0-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and they'll look to gain some momentum with a win this Saturday. Here are some video interviews with Dave Harding, Jamison Crowder and Kenny Anunike.
Welcome back Blue Devil faithful to another edition of Friday Night Lights where Blue Devil Nation provides readers with updated information on future Blue Devils high school action. This week's update includes comments from Trip McNeill, Johnathan Lloyd, Tinashe Bere and Chris Taylor.
We start out with a bit of disappointing news from Pennsylvania.
Running back Shai McKenzie is a player we followed closely last season so we are sad to report he tore his ACL last Friday night and is out for the season. He recently cut his list to five schools with Duke not making the shortened list. Four of his five are ACC schools: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh so there is a good possibility we will see McKenzie on the opposite (wrong) sideline at Wallace Wade Stadium in future years. The fifth school on McKenzie's list is Arkansas.
Blue Devil Nation wishes McKenzie a speedy and full recovery, and good luck in his future college career. We would have loved to have you!
Duke's newest verbal commit, running back Shaun Wilson ran for 208 yards and three touchdowns as West Mecklenburg upset Independence 40-33 on Thursday night. Wilson is an exciting runner who possesses speed and elusiveness.
Davie County defeated Thomasville 43-7 by emphasizing the running game. Offensive lineman Trip McNeill commented, "The team played really well. We had a great week at practice and it showed big." Davie County improves to 2-3 on the year and will host Reagan on Friday for their Homecoming Game.
Johnathan Lloyd rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns as Southern Alamance won their third consecutive game with a 48-28 victory over Southwest Guilford. In describing the game, Lloyd commented, "The offense was really clicking. The line played outstanding and the receivers made plays." Lloyd also threw a touchdown pass in the victory.
Southern Alamance improves to 4-1 on the season.
Tinashe Bere recorded a quarterback sack as Sycamore defeated Middlesex 33-5. When asked about the sack, Bere stated, "It was exciting." He continued, "I had 10 tackles total."
Chris Taylor had two receptions for 65 yards as University defeated Somerset 57-0. Taylor communicated to Blue Devil Nation. "I only played two quarters." It isn't surprising the talented receiver's playing time was limited considering the final score.
Verbally committed quarterback Nico Pierre and Coral Reef defeated Killian 21-20 in overtime on Friday night. Pierre scored in overtime on a one yard run.
Highly touted wide receiver prospect Trevon Lee and Cardinal Gibbons blanked Boyd Anderson 30-0.
Verbally committed tight end Davis Koppenhaver and William S. Hart were 56-7 winners over Ridgeview.
With the score 51-28 Pitt, the Duke Blue Devils teams' past would have folded the tent, tucked it in an went home with a butt whipping. But that didn't happen in one of the more bizarre games in recent memory.
Duke outscored the Panthers 27-7 the rest of the way showing no signs of quit but the one thing they could not overcome was the fact they committed four turnovers in the way of Brandon Connette interceptions, the last one going for a touchdown which happens to have been the only Pitt score in the games last 34 points.
If you were told earlier in the day Duke would score 55 points, one would have thought they cruised to an easy win, but Pitt scored early and often and in the process they take home a 58-55 win.
You get the impression that had Duke got the ball back, they would have scored again in a game that featured 1130 yards gained by both teams. Unless the Duke defense can right the ship and in a hurry, it could be a long season for a team that had its sight set on a bowl, but to do so, they have to create turnovers.
There was a lot of frustration in the air at Wallace Wade after Pitt seemed to do anything they wanted offensively, but the Blue Devils effort leaves hope for the rest of the season and some positives can be taken from this game.
Firstly, it is clear that Duke has one of the best playmakers in the ACC in Jamison Crowder who scored three touchdowns, one by the rush, one by the pass and one on a punt return to go with his 279 all-purpose yards on the afternoon.
And Connette? While he threw four interceptions, he never let it get him down and he showed signs of learned leadership. In his third start, he threw for a career high 323 yards and had a whopping total of 424 yards of total offense.
I think it's safe to say that Connette learned a lot in this game and had Duke folded the proverbial tent and ran out of their own stadium, many fans would have instantly proclaimed it basketball season.
This Duke team is not without its problems in the secondary and getting off blocks on defense and that must be corrected and fast with a high scoring Troy team on the horizon but if the Blue Devils can tweak a few things, there will be more wins this season.
In the pre season I wrote an article that hinted there would be bumps in the road for a program still rebuilding and the loss to Pitt is one of those. It was a game many had Duke slated to win in their armchairs before the season started, but who could have predicted two quarterbacks in Anthony Boone and Thomas Sirk would both go out to injury? And both were slated to start in dual roles with Connette being the Blue Devils version of their human Swiss Army Knife.
Duke teams past or before David Cutcliffe took over just dreamed of being in a game like this and the Blue Devils while far from perfect on the day continued to compete.
Chances are this team will right the ship in time but only if they create turnovers and commit less of their own. On this day, it was the turnovers that were the clear difference and had Duke created one more or had one less, they could have been on the winning end.
DURHAM - The Blue Devils dropped their second game in a row to fall to 2-2 on the season after a 58 to 55 loss to Pittsburgh in the 2nd highest scoring game in ACC history. The Panthers scored early and often against an inexperienced Duke secondary, while a furious Blue Devil 4th quarter rally fell just a play or two short. In the end, four turnovers were too much for Duke to overcome.
Pittsburgh redshirt-senior QB Tom Savage finished the day with 424 passing yards and 6 touchdowns. The Blue Devil defensive backs had no answer for the dynamic duo of Devin Street and Tyler Boyd. The Panthers' top two receivers finished the day with a combined 313 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns.
After a strong start to the season against NC Central and Memphis, the Blue Devil defense has been exposed in the past two weeks against ACC foes Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. On Saturday, Jim Knowles' unit allowed a total of 598 yards of offense, an average of 7.4 yards per play. The Blue Devils struggled to pressure Savage and the Panthers all afternoon, finishing with two sacks but no turnovers on the day. A bright spot for the Blue Devils again was special teams, where they blocked a FG for the second straight game, as Sydney Sarmiento got through on a first quarter Chris Blewitt attempt.
From the Duke perspective, there were a number of positives to take from Saturday's contest, despite the disappointing outcome. All-ACC WR Jamison Crowder had yet another strong performance, becoming the first Blue Devil since 1999 to score a receiving, rushing, and return touchdown. His 82-yard punt return TD in the 2nd quarter was his 2nd of the young season. In his second start in place of the injured Anthony Boone, QB Brandon Connette showed significant improvement, finishing 21 of 32 passing for 323 yards with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. After a shaky start that included interceptions on two of his first three throws, Connette was able to develop a rhythm with his WRs and lead the Duke offense to 6 touchdowns on the day. He was also successful on the ground, leading the Blue Devils in rushing with 101 yards on 15 carries with 2 more touchdowns. WRs Brandon Braxton and Max McCaffrey each had their best efforts of the season, totaling 8 combined catches and a touchdown each.
The loss drops the Blue Devils to an 0-2 start in ACC play, and leaves Duke searching for answers on defense as they try to snap a 2-game losing streak. Duke hosts Troy next Saturday at 3:00 PM ET.
The Duke Blue Devils Men's Basketball staff has been steady on the recruiting trail of late but they've now returned home, at least for the moment. Such is the busy nature of trying to nail down this coming years class, not to mention gaining an early edge on underclassmen.
There is still [private] no word on Kevon Looney and where he leans, but it's safe to say Duke is right there. The parents seemed sold on the opportunity in Durham but we all know it is eventually up to the kid himself. Looney will make his decision public on October 31st. If you are looking for a leak of where he is leaning, let it be know that his family has for now anyhow, shut down the media.
There has been a lot of paranoia involving Jahlil Okafor and his camp has more or less shut it down for media as well. No date has been officially set as of yet and I do not expect that to change for the next several days. Coach Kyzyzewski and Jeff Capel made a trip to see Okafor recently and by all accounts it was a fruitful visit. Duke is very much in the think of the race here and anybody who tells you differently just doesn't know what they're talking about. No word of late on the package deal and one way to shut down talk of that is to distance yourself from media.
Meanwhile, Tyus Jones is winding down the process and like others, his camp has grown quiet as well. Much of this is due to the family just wanting to sit back and take it all in and I have a feeling you will not hear a whole lot from his way anytime soon as well other than a diary he, along with Okafor, are committed to doing.
Duke has also visited Justise Winslow over the break and all indications are that they are right there. Winslow has yet to make a public date for a decision and the Duke staff continues to work on him for a visit in October. BTW, Arizona is trying to tell him he can co exist with other prospects.
There are a lot of visits being tentatively set but not much is leaking in that it is very liquid in nature but Duke is obviously trying to get guys ready to visit during Countdown to Craziness. I will give you dates if they are released and we should know more as CTC comes around.
The word on Reid Travis is that he enjoyed his visit but his camp is really making sure of their pending decision per sources. Stanford is very much in this race and I'm sure Coach Dawkins is telling him he is their Tyus Jones. This is going to come down to what the kid wants in the way of basketball and education. If he wants to be the man, he will pick Stanford where that type of situation is available. I know what some are thinking, people could point to Dawkins having to win but the Stanford push always education first. Still, Duke offers a good opportunity for education as well and I like the Blue Devils chances here and they've told him how he would be used and such.
Duke is also still in the running for Myles Turner who is red-hot right now. His family seems to be trying to ground him a bit per rumors and Duke did pay him a recent visit and they seemingly feel they are a player for his services. If all goes according to plan, we'll hear from Turner soon.
The Blue Devils stopped in on Charles Matthews and Luke Kennard as well. Every team in the nation seems to be on Kennard but that is not stopping Coach K and company who feel they've made good early in roads. Coach K loves his game at the Nike Peach Jam and it appears he will remain at the very top of the Blue Devils wish list. Matthews has not been real serious yet nut that will change. Malik Newman is also getting attention and a visit and K seems to really like his exploits since playing for Team USA and I think they'll be in the thick of this race.
Another underclassmen Duke visited recently was Diamond Stone. Coach James, Coach K and Capel made the journey to see him around the same time as Turner. It was very much a getting to know you session and by all accounts there is major interest from both sides, meaning all went well.
There is excitement in the air with the season about to start and you can feel it from anyone related to Duke be it the staff or the players. I saw several of the players during the football game last week and all were in good spirits, especially Quinn Cook. We'll be adding to our update on the players which is in the archives soon and we'll be concentrating on hoops a lot more in the coming week.
If any member is reading this and is not on the message board, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and once I check the list, I will okay you for said board. A lot of the quick hit information goes to the board before our updates. [/private]
Pittsburgh at Duke
12:30 PM ET
Saturday, September 21
Wallace Wade Stadium
TV: ACC Network
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network
Duke in 2013: 2-1 (Lost to Georgia Tech, 38-14)
Pittsburgh in 2013: 1-1 (Defeated New Mexico 49-27)
PROBABLE – RB Eric Adams (upper body), DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (leg), S Deondre Singleton (lower body)
QUESTIONABLE - S Corbin McCarthy (lower body)
OUT – OT Casey Blaser (hand), QB Anthony Boone (upper body), CB Jared Boyd (leg), QB Thomas Sirk (leg), WR Jack Wise (upper body), DT A.J. Wolf (leg)
OUT FOR SEASON – OT Tanner Stone (leg)
PITTSBURGH INJURIES - Unavailable
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
The Duke secondary will receive its first true test of the 2013 season as it matches up with Pittsburgh's star WRs Devin Street and Tyler Boyd. Pitt is coming off a big win over New Mexico, where they moved the ball easily through the air. Ross Cockrell and the Blue Devil defensive backs will have to contain the Panther passing game if Duke is to come away with their first ACC win of the season. To help out the secondary, the Blue Devil front 6 must get after redshirt-senior transfer QB Tom Savage and make him uncomfortable all afternoon. In their opening loss to Florida State, Savage was pressured into 2 interceptions and sacked 3 times. Kenny Anunike and company must have a big day up front for the Blue Devils.
Brandon Connette and the Duke offense must take a big step forward from a week ago, and prove early and often that they can move the ball through the air. The book on Duke's offense right now is to stack the box and force Connette to beat you through the air. Until he proves he can do that, especially on key 3rd down situations, the Blue Devils will struggle to sustain drives. The offensive line must contain Pitt DT Aaron Donald, who is coming off a big game against New Mexico. He is a force up front, who has the ability to single-handedly stuff Duke's read-option. Duke's 2 scoring drives against Georgia Tech featured a heavy dose of sophomore RB Jela Duncan, and getting the ball in his, and WR Jamison Crowder's hands, has to be key to Duke's offense.
HOW DUKE CAN LOSE
The answer to this is not complicated. If both teams repeat their week 3 efforts, the Blue Devils will lose. Pittsburgh dominated New Mexico last week with a strong effort on both sides of the ball. They moved the ball efficiently both through the air and on the ground, scoring on 6 of their first 8 possessions in the game. The defense stifled New Mexico, who finished with just 59 yards in the first half. Meanwhile, Duke struggled on 3rd down both offensively and defensively against Georgia Tech, and lost the field position battle in special teams.
In all likelihood, Pittsburgh will put up some points on the Blue Devils, as their speedy receivers will find holes in the inexperienced Duke secondary. If that's the case, the Blue Devils will have to play better on 3rd down, where they finished just 3 of 14 offensively last week. The Blue Devils cannot afford to lose on 3rd down again this week. If Kurt Roper does decide to open things up through the air, Connette must improve his accuracy. For an offense that is struggling to find its new identity, turnovers will kill momentum. A balanced Pittsburgh attack and a Duke offense that is unable to sustain drives would make for a long day for the Blue Devil faithful.
WHY PITTSBURGH WILL WIN
Coming off a big win, the Panthers have the momentum, while the flu-ridden Blue Devils are struggling to find their mojo. The Blue Devil defense will put together another laudable effort, keeping this game close early on, but the Blue Devils will continue to struggle offensively. In the second half, the Panthers will be the fresher team and will be able to control the line of scrimmage. Forced to play catch-up, Connette will be forced into tough situations and tough throws. A costly turnover or two may put the Blue Devils behind for good. For the Panthers, Savage will find both Street and Boyd for key explosive plays that will keep the game out of reach.
Pittsburgh 34, Duke 21