Category Archives: Duke Football

Jamison Crowder makes a move

Preview: Duke at Syracuse

Duke at Syracuse
12:30 PM ET
Saturday, November 8
Syracuse, NY
TV: RSN (Affiliates)
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 92 and XM Ch 193
Duke in 2014: 7-1 (3-1 ACC)
Syracuse in 2014: 3-6 (1-4 ACC)

DUKE INJURIES
PROBABLE: S Deondre Singleton
OUT: CB Alonzo Saxton II
OUT FOR SEASON: LB Kelby Brown, TE Braxton Deaver, DE Taariq Shabazz

SYRACUSE INJURIES

A lot, including - DOUBTFUL: QB A.J. Long

Coach Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils will make their first trip to the Carrier Dome this week as they face off with the Syracuse Orange. Saturday will be Senior Day for the Orange, who finish the year with road games at Pittsburgh and at Boston College. Scott Shafer's squad will need to win their final three to return to the postseason in 2014.

HOW DUKE CAN WIN

The Coastal Division leaders are favored on the road in the Carrier Dome this weekend, but by less than a touchdown. The Orange have played tough against some of the ACC's best, including Florida State and Clemson. As in any ACC game, the Blue Devils will need to play sound fundamental football by winning the turnover battle and controlling the line of scrimmage. The Duke offensive line has proven to be one of the top units in the country, effectively keeping opponents out of the Blue Devil backfield all season long. A balanced offensive attack will continue to move the chains, and Duke's speedy backfield should benefit from the quick turf to break a few runs.

Defensively, Duke needs to force Syracuse into long fields and obvious passing situations. The Orange have struggled to move the ball consistently through the air, and Duke's opportunistic secondary should be able to match-up with Syracuse's receiving corps. A depleted offensive line allowed 8 sacks a week ago to NC State, which should have Jim Knowles looking for ways to dial up pressure on an inexperienced Orange signal-caller. After an injury last week, A.J. Long is doubtful, leaving redshirt-freshmen Austin Wilson and Mitch Kimble next on the depth chart. A strong day from Will Monday will make for a long afternoon for the Orange offense.

HOW SYRACUSE CAN WIN

For Syracuse to accomplish the upset, their defense will have to find a way to ground the Blue Devils. The Orange have struggled mightily on offense this year, ranking near the bottom of the ACC in total offense and scoring offense.  Defensively, they have been effective at stopping the run, and will need to continue that trend against a balanced Duke rushing attack. Senior LBs Cameron Lynch and Dyshawn Davis must challenge Duke's veteran offensive front; Lynch ranks 3rd in the ACC in sacks entering Saturday's contest, while Davis is among the active career leaders in tackles for loss. Led by their two senior LBs, the Syracuse defense has proven to be stout against the run, holding opponents to just 3.3 yards per carry. A veteran secondary that starts all upperclassmen will have its hands full matching up with All-ACC WR Jamison Crowder, who is coming off his best game of the season at Pittsburgh.

Field position will be crucial for the Orange, who are not well-equipped to sustain long drives. A few critical takeaways or special teams plays will be needed to provide the Syracuse offense with a short field. The Blue Devils have proven to be quite vulnerable to the run, and a heavy dose of Prince-Tyson Gulley will be a challenge for Duke's front six. The senior already has two 100-yard rushing games on the season and will be looking to add a third on his Senior Day. Whichever young QB takes the snaps, they will have to play mistake-free football against the opportunistic Blue Devil secondary.

WHY DUKE WILL WIN

Boone and Crowder found their rhythm on the road in Pittsburgh last week. Under the friendly conditions of the dome, expect Boone to have another strong game against a Syracuse defense that has allowed 14 touchdowns through the air. The Blue Devils' senior QB will look to move to 18-1 in regular season games, leading another balanced Duke offensive attack. With an inexperienced QB starting for Syracuse, expect the Blue Devils to add to their ACC-leading turnover margin. The Orange have attempted the most field goals of any team in the ACC, which should play right into the hands of Duke's bend-but-don't-break defense. While the Orange will continue to settle for field goals, the Blue Devils will find their way into the end zone.

BOTTOM LINE

The Blue Devils again control their own destiny in the ACC Coastal Division race, but continue to take things one game at a time. After a narrow escape on the road in Pittsburgh, expect Duke to put together a strong second half to seal the win in Syracuse.

Duke 34, Syracuse 23

Copyright Lance King Images

Recap: Duke 51, Pitt 48

Copyright Lance King Images
Copyright Lance King Images

Much like a year ago, Duke and Pittsburgh engaged in a thrilling shootout, with some strange twists and turns along the way. Only this year, it took double overtime to decide the winner. And this year, it was the Blue Devils who emerged with the victory.

After totaling 56 points in the first half, the two teams combined for just 3 points in the 3rd quarter, setting up a wild finish at Heinz Field. With the game tied at 38 and just 2 seconds left on the game clock, Coach Cutcliffe called two timeouts to ice Pitt's Chris Blewitt. The strategy worked, as the kicker missed wide left on a potential game-winning 26-yard field goal attempt.

In the first overtime period, both offenses kept the ball on the ground, as Duke's Anthony Boone ran in a 12-yard touchdown, only to be matched by Pitt's James Conner, who muscled in from 14 yards out.

But in the second overtime, the Duke defense dug in its heels, forcing a 42-yard field goal, giving the ball back to their offense with a chance to win the game. Facing 3rd and short from the 5 yard line, Thomas Sirk pounded it in behind center Matt Skura for the win.

Prior to overtime, the story of the day was Pitt's James Conner, who entered the day as the ACC's leading rusher and ended with a career high 263 yards on 38 carries. Jeremy Cash and the Duke defense were dominated by the Pittsburgh offensive line for much of the afternoon. The Panthers controlled the clock through the game, winning time of possession 41:08 to 18:52.

Two key second half sacks managed to stop some of the bleeding for the Blue Devil defense. The first came from Dwayne Norman on a 3rd down safety blitz on Pitt's first drive of the second half. Duke went on to hold the Panthers scoreless in the 3rd quarter. With the Panthers driving and looking to take a 4th quarter lead, Dezmond Johnson, in his first game back from injury, took down Chad Voytik in the red zone, ultimately forcing a field goal to tie the game at 31 with 13:22 to play. But with the calendar turning to November, DeVon Edwards again came up big for the Blue Devils; "Mr. November" brought the ensuing kickoff back 99 yards for the touchdown to put Duke up 38-31.

In the first half, the only thing that could stop either offense was itself. Both teams scored touchdowns on 4 of their 5 first half possessions. The Panthers opened the game with a 9-play drive that stalled at the Duke 30-yard line and ended with a fumbled snap on a field goal attempt. For the Blue Devils, their drive stalled early in the second quarter after an offensive holding penalty. Outside of those two miscues, the two offenses rolled for just under 600 total yards and 56 total points in the first half alone.

As the first half was winding down, the Blue Devils found themselves trailing 28-21 with just 1:17 left in the 2nd quarter, but Anthony Boone orchestrated an efficient 10 play, 75-yard touchdown drive to tie the game as the two teams headed to the locker room. Boone finished the day 23/31 for 266 yards and 4 total touchdowns in one of his strongest outings of the season. Jamison Crowder had a monster game, totaling 9 catches for 165 yards and 2 scores, passing Clemson's Sammy Watkins to take over 2nd place in receptions in ACC history. And it was Thomas Sirk who played hero for the day, finishing with 2 touchdowns on his only 2 carries of the game.

Duke remains alone atop the Coastal Division and travels to Syracuse to take on the Orange next week at 12:30PM on the ACC Network.