[private]It was a frustrating evening for Duke in that they played well enough to win minus two mistakes. The biggest one was when the ball was centered over the punters head. The other snafu was a fumble in Duke territory. Both mistakes led to scores by an opportunistic Northwestern team which clipped the Devils 24-20.
Another reason Duke may have lost was the fact that the Wildcats had no turnovers. Perhaps this was ball protection on their part, but you must consider the possibility that Duke failed to create takeaways.
On a night where the Duke offense out gained the visitor, the lack of big plays when it counted spelled doom. While the home team couldn't make the plays to find the end zone. Northwestern quarterback hit a couple of key third down passes which proved to be deadly.
Duke was unable to get it done on two opportunities in Northwestern territory late in the game. Still, the Dukies were the better team in the second half, and Cutcliffe once again made good adjustments in the locker room.
A huge bright spot was an 11 catch effort by freshman Johnny Williams. With Eron Riley going out in the second quarter and playing sparingly again in the fourth quarter, WIlliams made his case for ACC Rookie of the Week. Readers of BDN know we tipped you off early on concerning the speedy wideout and he'll be fun to watch as the season progresses.
About the only thing you can do in Dukes case is pick up the pieces and put the game behind you. The taste of losing a winnable game should motivate them to get better as they prepare for Navy. There's a lot of football left in the season and Duke looks improved and the games are once again fun.
Fans likely had that pit in their stomachs after the loss on the ride home. They probably discussed the what if's. If it didn't hurt, then you wouldn't care and I can tell you firsthand that more fans truly care this season. More importantly, fans are talking about Duke after a loss and that was not the case for eight years.
I didn't want to do a game write up this morning. Instead, I simply wanted to share a few thoughts. As Jimmy V once said, "Don't give up. Never give up!" That should be this mornings motto of fans and team alike. Let's reach down and pick it up and get ready to rock the house and beat the Naval Academy. A victory cures all ills and this team will prepare better than ever in the coming week.
Notes- Coach Cutcliffe challenged his seniors and team to more or less get after it after the game.
Gripe-We need better uniformity with concerns to new cheers and scoreboard operation. Folks, you do not play music designed to pump it up when Northwestern enters the field each half. You wait until they are lined up for kickoff. Try using what I thought was a good "stand up" cheer during critical moments instead of a NW field goal attempt as time is expriring in the first half. Try to time the music better for there were too many times when it was inappropriate or during the start of a play. Get the graphics right. Don't pump up the Navy game yet have Duke vs. Northwestern at noon next week on the promo. Try this one .... when Duke gets a first down, try saying with enthusiasm, "and it's another Duke Blue Devil first down." The crowd will eventually join in on the "first down." Play the "noise meter or get loud" on all opponents third down attempts. Please, try and tighten up a bit. As fans we like the additions, but make them flow properly.[/private]