Category Archives: Duke Football

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Preview: North Carolina at Duke

Preview: North Carolina at Duke
7:30 PM ET
Thursday, November 20
Durham, NC
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 126 and XM Ch 193

Duke in 2014: 8-2
North Carolina in 2014: 5-5


OUT – Alonzo Saxton II (CB)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Jake Kite (S), Taariq Shabazz (DE)


OUT FOR SEASON - Khris Francis (TB), Conner Gonet (RB)

Thursday night football arrives in Durham as the Blue Devils host the rival Tar Heels in a primetime matchup. A year ago, Duke escaped Chapel Hill with a 27-25 win, clinching the ACC Coastal Division crown. This year, the Blue Devils need wins in their final two games to repeat as Coastal Division champions; meanwhile, the Tar Heels need a win to secure bowl eligibility. North Carolina holds a 58-38-4 edge in the all-time series, with the Blue Devils winning the last two meetings.


Get back to playing Duke football. The Blue Devils are 10-2 in their last 12 ACC regular season games, and for good reason. When at their best, they play sound fundamental football, and make their opponents pay for mistakes.

1. Win the turnover battle. Even after the loss to Virginia Tech, Duke remains +7 in turnover margin on the season, including a +2 in ACC play. While Jim Knowles' defense is becoming more adept at taking the ball away from opponents, the key for the Blue Devils is to take care of the football, and that starts with QB Anthony Boone. In Duke's two losses of the season, the redshirt-senior has thrown four interceptions; in their eight wins, just two. In a game that could easily turn into a shootout, the Blue Devils simply cannot afford to give away possessions and points. Conversely, one of the glaring weaknesses of Larry Fedora's offense has been a propensity for turnovers; through 10 games, the Tar Heels have thrown 11 interceptions and given away 5 fumbles. On a chilly night in Durham, look for the opportunistic Duke defense to secure a few takeaways.

2. Control the line of scrimmage. When looking at Duke's offensive success, it's easy to point to the balanced attack that averages nearly 33 points, 202 passing yards, and 193 rushing yards per game. That balance is not possible without strong offensive line play. After giving up 3 sacks and averaging just 3.4 yards per carry last week, the Duke offensive line, led by All-ACC senior Laken Tomlinson, should be ready for a big bounce-back effort. Expect a big day for the Duke stable of running backs against a North Carolina defense that ranks last in the ACC against the rush (and the pass, for that matter), giving up 4.9 yards per carry. Anthony Boone should have plenty of time to get the ball to his star senior WRs Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney, as the Tar Heels have allowed 24 passing touchdowns on the season.

3. Contain, contain, contain. It's no secret that these two defenses are capable of giving up lots of yards - the Blue Devils and Tar Heels rank last in the ACC in total defense. The difference between an 8-2 Duke team and a 5-5 North Carolina team, however, is that the Blue Devils rank second in the ACC in scoring defense. Jeremy Cash, David Helton, and the Duke defense will have to wrap up the elusive Tar Heel playmakers. Marquise Williams is a true dual-threat quarterback, and he alone has accounted for 28 of the North Carolina touchdowns this season. With two high-scoring offenses, the defense that manages to limit explosives and keep the opponent out of the end zone will win this rivalry game. In a game that could be decided by less than a touchdown, it's worth noting that the Tar Heels haven't made a field goal outside of 23 yards on the season.


1. Make Duke predictable. Virginia Tech and Miami have laid out the blueprint for beating this Duke team, but do the Tar Heels have the talent and discipline to replicate their efforts? It all starts up front defensively, where the Tar Heels have struggled all season. A big night will be needed for the North Carolina defense, led by senior bandit Norkeithus Otis, in order to slow the balanced Duke offense. Holding Duke to well under their 5.3 yards per carry average is essential in pressuring Boone into obvious 3rd down passing situations. If North Carolina can win the battle in the trenches, they should create a lot of work for Will Monday. The Tar Heel secondary will be equally challenged, however, as they will have to keep pace with Crowder, who is averaging 8 catches per game over his last 4. Sophomores Des Lawrence and Brian Walker will have to provide tight coverage on Crowder and Blakeney in particular, as Boone has shown he can be pressured into forcing throws to his senior receivers.

2. Keep it on the ground. Much like the Blue Devils, the Tar Heels are at their best when their offense dictates the game. Duke's defense has been vulnerable to the run, and a heavy dose of the North Carolina ground game will be crucial for a Tar Heel victory. Expect a big game from TJ Logan and company, who may be bolstered by the return of star freshman Elijah Hood. Jim Knowles typically likes to dial up pressure on third down, but If Williams can find ways to move the chains with his feet as well as his arm, it should put Jeremy Cash and the Duke defense on their heels. An effective running game will open up opportunities downfield through the air. Ryan Switzer is emerging as a threat not just on special teams, but in multiple roles on offense, and the Blue Devils will have to account for him at all times.


The Blue Devils are more disciplined and have the better defense, and that will be the difference in this game. Duke is among the least penalized teams in the ACC, while North Carolina gives up over 60 yards in penalties per game. Though both defenses are prone to giving up yards, the Blue Devils manage to keep their opponents out of the end zone. With the help of a few timely Tar Heel penalties and turnovers, Duke will pull away in the second half. A strong ground game with the re-emergence of Shaun Wilson will keep Marquise Williams and his offense on the sidelines and trailing on the scoreboard. Expect a monster game from Jamison Crowder, who will prove to be too elusive for the much-maligned Tar Heel defense.


Did you know it's been almost three years since Duke lost to an in-state rival? When it's Duke and North Carolina, anything can happen, but this Blue Devil team is too focused, too veteran, and too talented for the young Tar Heels. David Cutcliffe will have his squad back to winning football and one more win away from a repeat Coastal Division title, while Larry Fedora will drop to 0-3 against Duke.

Duke 38, North Carolina 27

Jeremy Cash

Jeremy Cash talks UNC at Duke

Jeremy CashThe UNC at Duke game is bigger than ever this season.  Firstly, it is a must win game for the Blue Devils if they hope to win the Coastal Division.  Secondly, UNC is vying for a bowl and would like nothing more than to knock Duke out of that spot.  Thirdly, the game will be on national TV where ESPN is expecting a shoot out.  Blue Devil Nation talked with Jeremy Cash about the big contest where he spoke to his girlfriend, a UNC student, supporting his efforts.  He also addressed what Duke would be facing on the defensive end.

Anthony Boone 11-15-14

Mistakes cost Blue Devils in loss to Virginia Tech

DURHAM - All season long, the Blue Devils have prided themselves on taking care of the football and protecting their quarterback. With an extra week to prepare, Bud Foster and the Virginia Tech defense were able to turn the tables on Anthony Boone and the Duke offense. The Hokies forced three Blue Devil turnovers and sacked Boone three times on Saturday en route to a 17-16 win. Boone finished the day just 18/40 for 181 yards with 2 interceptions.

Anthony Boone post-game

Turnovers weren't the only miscues for the Blue Devils on Saturday, as Ross Martin missed on two field goals, from 51 and 40 yards. The second miss, with 2:26 left to play, essentially sealed the win for the Hokies. Duke's junior kicker had been perfect on the season entering the game.

Ross Martin post-game

The Blue Devils (8-2, 4-2 ACC) face a quick turnaround as they host rival North Carolina in a Thursday night matchup on ESPN. As has been the case in recent meetings, more than just the Victory Bell will be at stake for both teams. The Tar Heels are fighting for bowl eligibility and the Blue Devils will need a win to stay in the ACC Coastal Division race. Tickets are still available at


Preview: Duke vs. Virginia Tech

DSC_0098Preview: Duke vs. Virginia Tech
12:00 PM ET
Saturday, November 15
Durham, NC
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 92 and XM Ch 194

Duke in 2014: 8-1
Virginia Tech in 2014: 4-5


OUT – Alonzo Saxton II (CB)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Taariq Shabazz (DE)


DOUBTFUL - Brandon Facyson (CB), Trey Edmunds (RB), Chase Williams (LB)
OUT FOR SEASON - Luther Maddy (DT), Shai McKenzie (RB), Jonathan McLaughlin (OT)

Duke and Virginia Tech last faced each other on October 26, 2013 in a game Duke won 13-10 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg. In their last game out, Duke beat Syracuse 27-10, while Virginia Tech lost to Boston College 33-31 on November 1. Virginia Tech is coming off a bye week.


On offense, look for Duke to pass to set-up the run. Achieving balance remains vital to success, but this week Duke must first achieve success in the passing game, then run the ball. Why? Virginia Tech has talented cornerbacks who can lock up wide receivers one-on-one. Kendall Fuller's 47 yard Pick Six against North Carolina and Donovan Riley's 63 yard Pick Six against Ohio State are examples. This strategy allows them to stack the box with eight men to stop the run and pressure the quarterback. Duke must force Virginia Tech to reduce the number of defenders in the box. With Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney lining up wide for the Blue Devils, it is imperative Duke wins the one-on-one wide receiver/cornerback match-ups. Blakeney and Crowder had great games against Syracuse and this weekend would be a great time to see encore performances.

On defense, Duke must force the Hokies to be one dimensional on offense by stopping the run. Virginia Tech has struggled to run the ball so the Blue Devils must ensure those struggles continue on Saturday afternoon in Wallace Wade Stadium. Once Virginia Tech is forced to rely on the pass, they are playing to Duke's defensive strength a ball hawking secondary.

The Blue Devil special teams have been special this season so against the Hokies the special teams must perform to win the field position battle and force Virginia Tech to face a long field all afternoon. It sounds simple and at times this season Duke has made it look simple, but a lot of hard work and effort go into executing those exciting returns and great coverage. Historically, the Hokies have excelled on special teams earning the moniker Beamer Ball. This Saturday afternoon Duke special teams need to flip the script and outperform Virginia Tech.


If Duke fails to protect quarterback Anthony Boone, they will lose. Virginia Tech defensive ends have combined for 10.5 sacks this season with the defense combining for 31 sacks total, which is third best in the conference. As stated above, this is a game where the Blue Devils need to successfully pass the ball in order to set-up the run so Anthony Boone must have time to go through his progressions, locate open receivers and accurately deliver the ball. Duke's offensive line has been superb so far this season and it will need to be superb again against the Hokies who will certainly blitz, blitz and then blitz some more.

If Duke fails to value the ball, they will lose. Duke is ranked first in the ACC in Turnover Margin at +9, while Virginia Tech is number 13 at -4. Duke cannot afford empty possessions so they must not turnover the ball to the Hokies. Moreover, turning the ball over forces the Blue Devils defense back on the field. In what by all acounts should be a closely contested game, the team that is freshest in the pivotal 4th quarter will have an advantage. Turnovers lead to fatigue.


Duke and Virginia Tech are programs on opposite trajectories. Duke is on the rise while the once vaunted Virginia Tech Hokies are falling as evidenced by their position in the ACC Coastal Division basement. Duke will beat Virginia Tech because the Blue Devils will be the better coached team, the more disciplined team and the more talented team.


This game will be won by the team which can dictate their will upon the opponent. Can Duke force Virginia Tech out of their man-on-man pass coverage on the outside? Will Virginia Tech successfully stack eight men in the box for all four quarters? The answer to those two questions will dictate the game outcome.

Duke 23, Virginia Tech 19

Anthony Boone 8-30-14

Duke QB Anthony Boone talks Hokies

Anthony-Boone-10-6-12The one thing Anthony Boone does consistently is win.  The Duke quarterback faces another stiff challenge this weekend from a notoriously tough Hokie defense.  Make no mistake that the Duke versus Virginia Tech match up is the key game left on the schedule.  With a win, Duke can split their remaining two regular season games and earn no less than a tie for the Coastal Division crown.  If Duke can get past the Hokies and Florida State takes out Miami this weekend, a split moving forward would clinch the division title.