Friday Night Lights: Future Blue Devils Report

Trevon Lee 6-9-13Welcome back to another edition of Friday Night Lights where we strive to keep our faithful readers informed on all the high school action for Duke recruits and recruiting targets. This week’s article includes comments from Trevon Lee, Chris Taylor, Nico Pierre, Johnathan Lloyd and Trip McNeill.

Duke is ardently pursuing 4-Star wide receiver Trevon Lee from Cardinal Gibbons HS in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and his performance on Friday night is evidence why. Lee caught seven passes for 163 yards and a touchdown in a 37-15 victory over Everglades HS.

Blue Devil Nation asked Lee for a self assessment of his performance in the game and he stated,[private] “I think I had a great game, but there’s always room for improvement. I’m looking forward to continuing my senior year, succeeding and having fun with my team.”

Chris Taylor is an impressive South Florida wide receiver who has already committed to Duke. On Saturday, Taylor caught two passes for 65 yards as University defeated Norland 47-12. In describing his performance, Taylor said, “I drew a lot of double coverage in the game. Alas, it was a great win!”

Sticking with receivers, California tight end prospect Davis Koppenhaver caught two touchdown passes as William S. Hart defeated Chaminade 55-54. Chaminade went for a two point conversion and the win in overtime, but failed to convert.

Switching over to quarterbacks, 4-Star commit Nico Pierre was not impressed with his individual performance in Coral Reef’s 46-0 shutout over Cooper City. Pierre communicated to Blue Devil Nation, “I have to give my defense a hand because they came to play, but for me it wasn’t a good performance so I got to get back to work on Monday.”

In the talent hotbed that is South Florida, competition is fierce so great performances will be required later in the year when play-offs come around. Coral Reef’s defense created four turnovers, which resulted in 26 points for the Barracudas.

Blue Devil Nation asked talented dual threat quarterback Johnathan Lloyd about his performance as Southern Alamance defeated Eastern Alamance 55-40. Lloyd stated, “I threw the ball well and offensively we were clicking. The offensive line played outstanding giving me lots of time to throw and holes to run through.”

Lloyd accounted for over 500 yards of offense in the victory as he threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores. Lloyd passed for 317 yards and ran for an additional 195 yards.

When asked about his strengths as a quarterback, Lloyd responded, “Vision and keeping my eyes down field while maneuvering around the pocket, and good feet.”

Davie County HS put a check in the win column with a 53-10 win over Lexington. Future Blue Devil Offensive Tackle Trip McNeill commented, “It was different going against skinny fast people compared to people with size.”

In Georgia, Collins Hill defeated Dacula 21-13. Future Blue Devil Offensive Tackle Christian Harris plays for the Collins Hill Eagles.

Carrollton HS scored on seven of its eight first half drives and routed Chapel Hill 63-0. Future Duke offensive guard Jake Sanders plays for Carrollton.

In Alabama, running back prospect Ito Smith scored on touchdown runs of two, three and five yards as McGill-Toolen defeated Alma Bryant 44-7. Overall, Smith rushed 14 times for 82 yards (5.8 yards per carry).

Also in Alabama, 4-Star linebacker commit Zavier Carmichael and the St. Paul’s Saints defeated Williamson 33-6.

In California, Cosumnes Oaks defeated Sacramento 24-13. Future Blue Devil Offensive Tackle Kameron Schroeder plays for the Cosumnes Oaks Wolfpack.

In Ohio, Coldwater scored 28 unanswered second half points to defeat Bishop Hartley 41-16. Future Blue Devil defensive back Alonzo Saxton plays for Bishop Hartley.

This article discusses the Sycamore Aviators who feature future Duke linebacker Tinashe Bere. The linked article includes a nice picture of Bere sacking a quarterback. Sycamore defeated Ryle 28-0 on Friday night.

Central Catholic scored four second half touchdowns to defeat Southview 35-17. Future Duke center Zack Harmon plays for Central Catholic.

In St. Louis, Christian Brothers HS defeated Eureka 38-7. Future Blue Devil defensive back Zach Muniz plays for Christian Brothers.

That is all for this week’s high school report! [/private]

Duke QB Brandon Connette took over for the injured Anthony Boone

Duke rallies to outlast Memphis 28-14

Duke QB Brandon Connette took over for the injured Anthony Boone
Duke QB Brandon Connette took over for the injured Anthony Boone

Going into Saturday’s road game at Memphis, Duke coaches and fans were interested to see how the Blue Devils would respond to their first adversity of the young season. They had no idea just how much adversity the Blue Devils would face. With a tie score in the 4th quarter and without their starting quarterback, Duke responded definitively. On both sides of the ball, the Blue Devils dominated the final 11 minutes of the game, outscoring Memphis 14-0 to seal the non-conference road victory. Duke moves to 2-0 to start their season for the first time since 1998.

The Duke defense stymied the Tigers and redshirt-freshman QB Paxton Lynch for most of the afternoon, holding them to just 76 total yards in the first half, and just 2 third-down conversions all afternoon. In the 90+ degree Memphis heat, the unit wore down slightly in the second half, but did not break, coming up with needed stops in the 4th quarter, thanks in part to a number of pass break-ups by All-ACC CB Ross Cockrell. Throughout the game, veterans Kenny Anunike and Kelby Brown seemed to be everywhere when the Blue Devils needed them. Brown and David Helton again led the Duke defense with 7 tackles each. DE Dezmond Johnson and CB Garett Patterson each came up with a key second half fumble recovery as well.

Duke starting QB Anthony Boone left the game in the second quarter with an upper body injury and did not return. Brandon Connette filled in admirably, willing the Blue Devils on a crucial 9 play 87 yard scoring drive capped by a 8-yard Juwan Thompson touchdown run early in the 3rd quarter to take a 14-7 lead. After a Tiger touchdown to tie the score, Connette and the Blue Devil offense took over.  Early in the 4th quarter, Connette found Issac Blakeney for a 22-yard TD strike to take the 21-14 lead. Brandon Braxton scampered 12 yards down the sideline on the next Duke series, and the Blue Devils went up 28-14 to put the game away. Connette ended up completing 14 of 21 passes for 198 yards, while adding 31 yards on the ground. Jamison Crowder was again the Blue Devils’ biggest playmaker, finishing the afternoon with 11 catches for 140 yards.

Turnovers haunted the Blue Devils all afternoon, as they finished the day with 2 fumbles and one interception. A second quarter Anthony Boone interception led to the Tigers’ first points, as Bobby McCain stepped in front of Jamison Crowder for a 75-yard pick-6.

Duke returns home for their ACC opener against Georgia Tech in week 3, and all eyes will be on Boone and the extent of his injury this week. Stay tuned for complete game-week coverage.

Duke at Memphis: Game Preview

Boone 150x150Duke at Memphis
4:30 PM ET
Saturday, September 7
The Liberty Bowl
Memphis, TN
TV: ESPN3
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Duke in 2013: 1-0 (Defeated NCCU 45-0)
Memphis in 2013: Season Opener

DUKE INJURIES

QUESTIONABLE – C.J. France, Jordan DeWalt Ondijo
OUT – Jared Boyd, Thomas Sirk, Casey Blaser, Britton Grier, Eric Adams, Jack Wise
OUT FOR SEASON – Tanner Stone

MEMPHIS INJURIES – Unavailable

HOW DUKE CAN WIN

Duke will look to improve to 2-0 on the season by winning the battle in the trenches resulting in sustained scoring drives on offense with three and outs or turnovers achieved by the defense.

On offense, Duke will look to establish the running game in order to set-up play action, successfully execute screen passes to place the ball in playmakers hands with room to operate, and force a fast tempo. Anthony Boone is responsible for orchestrating the pace and flow of the offense, but success starts with dominant offensive line play; however, Memphis has an experienced and talented defensive line, which is the strength of their team so the Blue Devils offensive lineman must execute blocking assignments with flawless precision in order to win a tough battle along the line of scrimmage.

On defense, successfully executing the blitz package to harass redshirt freshman quarterback Paxton Lynch, in his first college game, will be vital. Duke must force Paxton into making mistakes and then capitalize on those mistakes. Memphis has talented experience along the offensive line so it is imperative Duke’s defensive line exerts maximum effort on every play in an attempt to dominate the line of scrimmage, which is the main prerequisite to achieving success with the blitz.

HOW DUKE CAN LOSE

The defense failing to execute on 3rd down could cause the Blue Devils issues. Duke must finish defensive sets with solid execution on 3rd down in order to keep their defense fresh while forcing the Tigers defense back onto the field with little rest. If Memphis achieves success early, by converting first downs into touchdown producing drives, Duke’s defensive confidence could crack. And with a young secondary, maintaining and building upon confidence is crucial.

Two additional intangibles are turnovers and penalties. Duke must take care of the football while avoiding unforced errors. Duke turned it over against Memphis four times in 2012; however, this is an improved Memphis squad so turnovers on Saturday afternoon could prove fatal.

WHY DUKE WILL WIN

Duke is the more talented team. It has been a long path back, and the Blue Devils still have a long ways to go, but when the team takes the field against Memphis they will out talent the Tigers on both sides of the ball. Look for the Blue Devils to go deeper in the playbook this week, but still keep it basic the majority of sets focusing upon out executing the opponent with superior talent across all three phases of the game. Due to the talents of Will Monday, Ross Martin and Jamison Crowder, Duke will utilize special teams play to win the field position battle setting up both the offense and defense for success.

Like 2012, the Tigers will keep it close in the 1st half before Duke pulls away for a comfortable win to improve to 2-0 on the season.

Duke 31, Memphis 13

Duke travels to Memphis on Saturday with a 4:30PM ET kickoff.

Know the opponent: Memphis Tigers

Duke travels to Memphis on Saturday with a 4:30PM ET kickoff.
Duke travels to Memphis on Saturday with a 4:30PM ET kickoff.

Duke travels to Memphis on Saturday, looking to open their season at 2-0 after a convincing 45-0 win in their season opener. The Tigers were idle last week, and host the Blue Devils in their season opener as they look to improve upon last season’s 4-8 finish.

To give us a scouting report on the Tigers, BDN welcomes back Phil Stukenborg, Memphis football reporter for The Commercial Appeal, where he has worked since 1983. He has written about high school, college and professional sports in the Mid-South, spending time as the beat writer for Ole Miss, Arkansas and the University of Memphis athletics. He was honored by the Memphis Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 2004 with its Contribution to Amateur Football Award and by the All-American Football Foundation in 2001 with the Jim Murray Outstanding Sportswriter Award. Thanks for joining us again, Phil!

The Tigers return 16 starters from last year’s squad that finished on a 3-game winning streak. What are the expectations for Memphis in Coach Fuente’s 2nd season and their first in the AAC?
I think the expectations are realistic. Fans understand the team is taking a significant leap by going into a Bowl Championship Series conference led by Top 10 Louisville. The teams Memphis beat to end the season had disappointing seasons, including 0-12 Southern Miss. So I think fans realize the team may be better yet finish with a similar or slightly better record than last year’s 4-8.
Coach Fuente has said he prefers to run an up-tempo offense and recently named 6’6″ redshirt-freshman Paxton Lynch his starter. What is the scouting report on Lynch and the Tiger offense coming out of training camp?
Lynch is a player Tiger coach Justin Fuente envisions as a clear winner in the competition with senior Jacob Karam, who started 12 games a year ago. Lynch has a presence about him, an in-born ability to lead. A strong arm doesn’t hurt. He wasn’t heavily recruited because of a knee injury his senior year, but did get late attention from Indiana and Florida.
Memphis boasted one of the stronger defenses in C-USA last year, but like the Blue Devils must replace a number of starters in the secondary. How do the Tigers matchup with Duke QB Anthony Boone and his new read-option offense? 
Memphis will be strong in its front seven, which includes the addition of Nebraska transfer NG Chase Rome. The secondary may actually be better than a year ago. It has added speed.
Duke won comfortably a year ago in Durham, but the oddsmakers expect this year to be a closer contest. What do you think will be the key(s) for an upset by the Tigers?
Much like last year, the Tigers must get contributions from their special teams. Last year it was ALL they had as Duke simply overpowered Memphis up front. If the Tigers can hold their own up front – on both sides of the ball – and get some big plays behind Lynch’s strong arm, it could an interesting game.

Friday Night Lights: Full Slate of Games in Week 2

Nico Pierre 8-30-13Welcome back sports fans for more coverage of high school football action involving Duke verbal commits and recruiting targets. While Week 1 saw just a few players in action, Week 2 contains a full slate of games. Blue Devil Nation is abreast all the action on the Devils Sports Beat working to keep our readers up to speed with the latest Duke football recruiting information so kick back and relax as we take you on a nation wide tour.

Nico Pierre completed nine of 12 passes for 137 yards, including touchdown throws of 20 and seven yards, as Coral Reef HS blanked Varela 36-0 in their season opener. In commenting on his team’s performance, in their season opener, Pierre stated,[private] “Good work from both sides of the ball, but improvement is much needed.”

This recap from the Miami Herald includes video highlights of the game.

Chris Taylor caught one pass for 12 yards and a touchdown as University trounced Taravella 61-14. Blue Devil Nation asked Taylor for a self assessment on his strengths as a receiver and he replied, “I have an innate ability to stretch the field and press the safeties. I also pride myself in good route running.”

Johnathan Lloyd and Southern Alamance traveled to Western Alamance to attempt to break an eight game losing streak to the Warriors, but Southern Alamance ended up on the short end of a 27-21 final in a game decided in double overtime. Lloyd rushed for 50 yards, while completing 22 of 37 passes for 292 yards in the loss.

When asked by Blue Devil Nation for his thoughts on the game, Lloyd replied, “It was a tough loss. We fought hard, but ultimately we made too many mistakes.”

This recap from The Times-News includes video highlights of the game.

Taking a look at a new name, 2014 tight end prospect Davis Koppenhaver (6’5” 205) caught eight passes totaling 104 yards as William S. Hart HS defeated Santiago 56-49.

Mobile, AL running back prospect Ito Smith rushed for 191 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries as McGill-Toolen HS defeated UMS-Wright 49-35. Smith’s touchdown runs covered 69, 35 and four yards.

Trevon Lee caught two touchdown passes as Cardinal Gibbons HS defeated Western 45-0. Lee’s touchdown receptions covered 20 and 30 yards. Overall, he recorded eight receptions for 100 yards.

Let’s turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball.

In Cincinnati, linebacker Tinashe Bere intercepted a pass as Sycamore HS defeated Walnut Hills 41-7.

In Mobile, linebacker Zavier Carmichael, who was the first verbal commit in Duke’s 2014 class, came up short as Fairhope defeated St. Paul’s 22-18. This game recap includes a nice photo of Carmichael (#24) pressuring the quarterback.

In other action:

Davie County (Trip McNeill) lost to West Rowan 31-27.
Kennesaw Mountain (Taariq Shabazz) defeated Sprayberry 48-27.
Bishop Hartley (Alonzo Saxton) defeated Amanda Clearcreek 38-6.
Christian Brothers (Zack Muniz) lost to Fort Zumwalt West 24-21.
Central Catholic (Zack Harmon) defeated Warren De LaSalle 21-14.
Collins Hill (Christian Harris) defeated Central Gwinnett 22-0.
Cosumnes Oaks (Kameron Schroeder) lost to Roseville 22-7.
Carrollton (Jake Sanders) defeated Oxford 35-14.
[/private]