Another week of high school football is in the books and Blue Devil Nation is here with an update on the gridiron exploits of future Blue Devils as well as Duke recruiting targets. Friday Night Lights: 2014 Edition No. 6 commences with a look at the two 2016 commits:
After verbally committing to Duke on Friday afternoon, 2016 running back Elijah Deveaux rushed for 250 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries Friday night as Charlotte Christian defeated Carolina Pride 62-19.
2016 wide receiver Scott Bracey caught a 44 yard touchdown pass as Benedictine defeated Bishop Ireton 29-26 on Saturday afternoon.
Moving on to future Blue Devils in the Class of 2015:
Wide receiver T.J. Rahming had three receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown as McEachern defeated North Cobb 48-28. Rahming’s touchdown catch covered 43 yards. He also rushed three times for 41 yards.
Wide receiver Keyston Fuller caught a 74 yard touchdown pass in the 2nd quarter as Griffin defeated Mt. Zion-Jonesboro 41-16. Fuller was the game’s leading receiver with three receptions for 81 yards.
Wide receiver Aaron Young returned a kick-off to the opponent’s 48 yard line to setup the tying touchdown and Murrieta Valley went on to defeat Murrieta Mesa 50-47 in overtime.
Quarterback Quentin Harris threw two touchdown passes for 61 and nine yards, but Taft School fell to Choate 58-13. Harris completed 36 of 56 pass attempts for 309 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Top 2015 running back target Nyheim Hines ran for 147 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries as Garner destroyed Clayton 63-10.
In the amazing performances category, 2015 running back target Albert Funderburke rushed for a Union County record 457 yards in Sun Valley’s 74-58 win over Piedmont. Funderburke rushed for five touchdowns including two of 71 yards each. His other three touchdown runs covered 42, 35 and seven yards.
The Duke Blue Devils evened their conference record to 1-1 on the season with a 31-25 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday. Their overall record now stands at 5-1 which puts them just one win from bowl eligibility. The next win would mark the third straight season Duke will go to a bowl under the watch of head coach David Cutcliffe.
Duke used a solid running game, led by Josh Snead with 102 yards on the ground. The Blue Devils rushed for 242 yards as a team and that helped lead them to a victory over previously undefeated and nationally ranked Georgia Tech.
With the win, Duke put itself back in the race to defend their Coastal Division crown from a season ago. The win also sets up a key ACC matchup in Wallace Wade next week with Virginia which stands 2-0 in the division.
Duke was in control for much of the game against the Yellow Jackets, but a rally towards the end made for a close game. The Blue Devils defense bent but did not break on the first several Yellow Jacket drives. By allowing just two early field goals in the red zone, the Duke offense was able use time of possession to their advantage.
With a strategy designed to keep the Tech offense off the field, it enabled the defense to rest. Duke was also aided in their big win by two timely interceptions.
Zavier Carmichael halted a Tech drive with an interception of Jacket quarterback, Justin Thomas, at the Duke four yard line. That 3rd quarter pick stalled a Tech drive when Duke was up 24-12.
Later in the 4th quarter, the Duke defense forced Thomas out of the pocket and Jeremy Cash intercepted a desperation pass. Cash returned the ball 23 yards to the to the Yellow Jackets 23 yard line.
The Cash pick led to a game clinching touchdown. Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk scored twice in the teams short yardage package. The two Sirk scores came on runs of 3 and 1 yard, the last giving the Blue Devils a commanding 31-12 lead.
But the Yellow Jackets weren’t finished. Duke started to play a softer defense to keep the ball in front of them when the Georgia tech was forced to pass the ball. Reserve quarterback Tim Byerly led his team to a score in a mere 57 seconds, thanks to a solid kickoff return.
After the ensuing Duke drive stalled, Byerly took the Yellow Jackets 89 yards in 9 plays.
That score led to another key moment, where Ryan Smith secured an onside kick. That helped Duke in that the Blue Devils ran out the clock.
The victory was the first in the David Cutcliffe era against a team that had been a nemesis. The Blue Devils didn’t play particularly well in the games closing minutes, but stellar early play secured a win.
With the win over Georgia Tech, Cutcliffe has just one ACC team left in the Coastal Division to defeat. That team is Pitt and the Blue Devils will travel for that game on November 1st. Duke lost it’s inaugural game with the Panthers a season ago in a shoot out at Wallace Wade.
The Blue Devils will have little time to enjoy this win in that they take on Virginia who has been on a bye week. The Cavaliers are much improved and have played a difficult schedule to date. And Duke is surely one of them teams that has been circled on their schedule in that Duke has had great success in the series of late.
The Blue Devils righted the ship after a loss to Miami, but the passing game continues to not be the force many felt it would be in the pre season. Thankfully, for Duke, their running game is the best it’s been since the days of Bill Murray. That has allowed the team to start the season with a 5-1 record before they get into the meat of their ACC schedule.
CHARLOTTE – Duke football’s recruiting class of 2016 got another big boost on Friday as they added a verbal commitment from RB Elijah Deveaux. The 6’1″ 200 pound prospect chose the Blue Devils over Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, and NC State.
His father played at Pittsburgh and his uncle played at Florida State.
Elijah announced his decision live via NCPreps.com. He joins fellow ESPN300 junior Scott Bracey as Duke’s first two commitments for 2016.
Duke in 2014: 4-1
Georgia Tech in 2014: 5-0
QUESTIONABLE – Shaquille Powell (RB)
OUT – Dezmond Johnson (DE), Jamal Wallace (DT), Dan Beilinson (TE), Johnathan Lloyd (CB), Trip McNeill (OL)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Taariq Shabazz (DE)
GEORGIA TECH INJURIES
QUESTIONABLE – Bryan Chamberlain (OT)
Duke and Georgia Tech last faced each other on September 14, 2013 in a game Georgia Tech won 38-14 at Wallace Wade Stadium. In their last game out, two weeks ago, Duke lost to Miami 22-10, while Georgia Tech defeated Miami 28-17 last Saturday evening.
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
In order to win on Saturday the Blue Devils will have to do four things: make each offensive possession count; get off the field on defense; create turnovers; and generate some magic on special teams.
Duke must make each and every offensive possession count. The Blue Devils cannot turn the ball over nor can they afford to go “three and out.” Avoiding empty possessions is paramount to victory!
To get off the field on defense, Duke first and foremost must stop the dive play. If Georgia Tech consistently gains three and half or four yards per play with fullback Zach Laskey on the dive, it will be a long afternoon for the Blue Devils defense. Duke must be prepared to stop Georgia Tech on both third and fourth down because Yellow Jackets Head Coach Paul Johnson will not be shy about keeping his offense on the field for a fourth and two at midfield.
Georgia Tech played flawless football last week against Miami, especially in the 2nd half. Duke cannot afford to allow the Yellow Jackets to establish offensive rhythm and grind out multiple, time consuming, points producing possessions, so the defense will need to take chances to create turnovers. The Blue Devils will need to get a couple of key stops and force the Yellow Jackets to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns.
Special teams play can set the tone and change the momentum of a game. Duke will need to block a punt or field goal attempt; execute a big return to setup a short field for the offense to cash in on with points, or pin the Yellow Jackets deep in their own territory with great kicks. Special teams have been solid for Duke in 2014 but against Georgia Tech they will need to step up and be spectacular!
HOW DUKE CAN LOSE
Duke’s perceived weakness is defense against the run, which plays right into the hands of Georgia Tech’s strength, the running game. As mentioned above, Georgia Tech’s running game starts with the dive play. The quarterback keeper and pitch to the outside come next. Georgia Tech will look to pound it up the middle and stretch the defense on the edges using a lethal combination of power and speed. Once the running game is clicking, the Yellow Jackets will look for opportunities to throw the ball down the field.
Justin Thomas is a talented option quarterback so if Duke does not prevent the Georgia Tech offense from executing at high efficiency, by disrupting possessions by creating turnovers, the Blue Devils will lose.
Simultaneously, the Blue Devils offense must be efficient, score points and, perhaps most important, keep the Yellow Jackets offense on the sidelines. If Duke’s offense stalls resulting in short possessions, or turns the ball over, the Blue Devils will lose.
WHY DUKE WILL WIN
Karma! Because a victory over the Yellow Jackets after a decade of futility is overdue! Coming off a bye week, the Blue Devils will be healthy, rested and prepared for Georgia Tech’s triple option offense. Jeremy Cash will be a disruptive force on defense. Most importantly, unlike in the Miami game, Anthony Boone and the Blue Devils offense will keep the pressure on Georgia Tech by moving the ball and scoring points! Jamison Crowder will step up and shine in Atlanta. This is a huge game for Duke and their efforts to repeat as Coastal Division Champions so the team will bounce back from the Miami loss and play like the champions they are!
A key turnover, an explosive special teams play and the strength of Ross Martin’s leg will lead Duke to their first victory over Georgia Tech in the Coach David Cutcliffe era.
Duke 30, Georgia Tech 27
The Duke Blue Devils, rolled to a 10-2 regular season record after two consecutive ACC losses to Pitt and Georgia Tech a season ago. The Blue Devils lost their ACC opener to Miami this season and now must travel to Georgia Tech. And the Yellow Jackets? They’re seemingly in the driver’s seat in the Coastal Division with wins over the Hurricanes and Virginia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets have been a perpetual thorn in the Blue Devils side not only in the Cut era but for a decade or better. They run that hard to stop option and you fear injuries when facing them due to their use of the cut block. With an undefeated record and a national ranking, this seems to be a daunting task for the Dukies.
It’s hard to realistically envision a scenario where Duke can lose this game and stay in contention in their division. In short, do not expect last seasons magic to take place twice if they go to 0-2 in the ACC.
While nobody may talk of it around the Duke Football camp, this has to be one of those games circled on the calendar. A year ago, the Yellow Jackets literally ran the score up late in their 38-14 win in Durham. A cold hard fact is that they have a history under their head man of handling the Blue Devils with relative ease.
If that is not enough, some fans remember fiery Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson dissing Duke during their last coaching search for less money in Atlanta. Duke fans are undoubtedly happy with the way things turned out and having David Cutliffe at the helm, but there has been disrespect. If there is any team that Duke should want to rise up against on their schedule it is clearly Georgia Tech.
For Duke to defeat the Yellow Jackets in their backyard, they will have to control the ball and make few if any mistakes. With a newfound running game, this can happen, but ironing out wrinkles in the passing game will be the key.
The Blue Devils have had a bye week to aid in getting said passing game going. Senior quarterback Anthony Boone will have to improve upon his decision-making for that to happen.
A year ago, the Duke passing game struggled a bit early with concern to finding the end zone, but this season the Blue Devils rarely stretch the field. A week ago Miami forced Duke to throw short and that led to a lot of unsuccessful third down plays.
Last season, Duke was able to correct many weaknesses during the bye week which enabled them to go on a roll. They need similar results this year to stay in contention for a division title.
David Cutcliffe and Duke Football has shown a trend of resilience of late but will that continue? The Blue Devils destiny is in their own hands for this weekends match up is huge for the team.
A win over an arch nemesis would be just the shot in the arm the Blue Devils need for their confidence and to show they are a contender. A loss would seriously damage their hopes to defend their division title.
While a loss would not end Duke Football’s ascent to consistent respectability, it would stall the process. The Duke fan base is a mere two years removed from just wanting to get to a bowl game. However, there is now some expectations for success and that’s new to most in Durham.
Duke Football can go a long ways in meeting the new expectations by finding a way to win this weekend. The team can thwart those comments from some who say they were a flash in the pan. And this should be a game where they want to show up and play their best football.
Under David Cutcliffe, Duke has beaten every team in their division now with the exception of this weeks opponent. It’s time that Duke finds a way to get over the next hump.
If Duke is to beat Georgia Tech this weekend, it will be because the offense clicks after a bye week. The Yellow Jackets will grind it out on offense against anyone. But the one way to take them down to be aggressive on the offensive end.
Make no mistake about it, this is a critical and huge game for Duke Football. It is clearly their most important game to date this season. And after this Saturdays result, we’ll know a lot more about this team.
The Duke vs Georgia Tech game kicks off at 12:30 this Saturday on the ACC Network.