Tag Archives: Desmond Scott

Stats Update: Conner Vernon has an Excellent Game but Turnovers Tell the Tale

Conner Vernon leads the ACC in Receptions per Game and Receiving Yards per Game
Sometimes statistics can be misleading while other times they concisely tell the tale. In Saturday’s 35-21 loss to the Army Black Knights one needs to look no further than the five Blue Devil turnovers to understand the outcome. Sean Renfree threw interceptions on two of Duke’s first three possessions, which resulted in the Cadets jumping all over the Blue Devils early and never looking back.

Duke lost fumbles on their first two possessions of the second half and Army pushed their lead to 35-7 by converting Duke’s turnovers into touchdowns. With five turnovers on Saturday, the Blue Devils saw their turnover plus/minus fall to minus four for the season, which is last in the ACC.

On the positive side, wide receiver Conner Vernon had eight receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. Vernon has three touchdown receptions so far this season and all have been on receptions greater than 50 yards.

Vernon leads the ACC in Receiving Yards per Game (112.1) and Receptions per Game (7). Those numbers result in a national ranking of seven and 14 respectively. In post game comments, Coach Cutcliffe described Vernon as, “…one of the toughest young men that you will ever come across…he can be a great football player.”

As good a game as Vernon had, he was responsible for one of the turnovers when he fumbled while fighting for extra yards on a reception early in the second half.

Donovan Varner is tied for fourth in the ACC, with Florida State’s Bert Reed, in Receptions per game with 5.8, while Austin Kelly is number eight with 4.8 receptions per game. With three of the league’s top eight receivers, Duke’s receiving corps is living up to its reputation as the most talented in the ACC.

Sean Renfree’s seven interceptions this season are troublesome; however, he still leads the ACC in Passing Yards per Game at 278.2 yards and he has thrown nine touchdowns. Renfree seemed to be a bit out of sync against Army so he needs to have a good week in practice and reacquire the razor sharp edge he has previously displayed.

Duke continues to display an ability to run the ball by rushing 24 times for 111 yards against the Black Knights. Duke is averaging 144.5 yards per game, on the season, which is ninth in the ACC and number 72 in the nation. Duke has rushed for over 100 yards in all four games this season after accomplishing the benchmark only once in 12 games in 2009. The one occurrence in 2009 was against FCS opponent North Carolina Central University.

This season Desmond Scott (277 yards), Josh Snead (158 yards) and Brandon Connette (118 yards) all have the potential to breakout on a long run. Their long runs on the season are 63, 27 and 48 yards, respectively.

On the defensive side of the ball true freshman linebacker Kelby Brown recorded six solo tackles and was credited with four assists for a total of 10 tackles. Senior Abraham Kromah was responsible for a total of 13 tackles with four being solo. Safeties Matt Daniels and Walt Canty were credited with nine and eight tackles respectively.

Kromah is tied for ninth in the ACC at 7.8 tackles per game while Daniels is tied for 12th with 7.5.

Two worrisome defensive statistical categories are Sacks and Tackles for Loss. Duke does not have a single player who breaks out amongst the 20 listed by the ACC in these two categories. Duke is tied with Boston College for last place in the ACC in sacks.

Here is how Duke stands in the ACC and NCAA in 10 statistical categories:

1. Total offense: dropped to number four in the ACC and number 38 in the nation. Offensive yardage dropped from 443.7 to 425.8 yards per game. Duke was number three and 27 last week.

2. Time of possession: dropped from number one in the ACC to number six as Army dominated this statistic. Duke’s time of possession fell from 32 minutes and 27 to 29 minutes and 21 seconds per game.

3. Third down conversions: Duke was 1 – 8 on third down against Army, which lowered their success rate to 42.9% resulting in Duke falling to number six in the ACC and number 48 in the nation.

4. Red zone offense: Duke remains at 100 percent success in the red zone scoring nine touchdowns and four field goals in 13 opportunities.

5. First downs: fell from number one in the ACC to number three with 87 first downs. The Blue Devils have rushed for 29, passed for 52, and been awarded six via penalties. These numbers result in Duke falling from being tied with Notre Dame at number 16 in the nation last week to being number 37 this week.

6. Total defense: improved to number 11 in the ACC and number 110 in the nation as they decreased total yards allowed to 466.2 from 510.7 yards of offense per game.

7. Scoring defense: Duke remains last in the ACC giving up an average 44.5 points per game down from 47.7 points per game. Those numbers still rank number 118 in the nation. The 35 points given up to Army can be partially attributed to the Blue Devils turnover issues.

8. Opponent first downs: improved to number 11 in the ACC and number 106 in the nation by giving up 92 first downs. Opponents have rushed for 47, passed for 39 and been awarded six via penalty.

9. Red zone defense: Opponents have scored on Duke in 16 out of 18 red zone opportunities. Duke improved to being tied with Clemson for number nine in the ACC and number 91 in the nation.

10. Turnover margin: Last but definitely not least, Duke now has a minus four (-4) in turnover margin, which is last in the ACC and tied for number 100 in the nation. Last week the Blue Devils were ranked number five in the ACC and number 33 in the nation.

Turnover margin is the one statistic Duke must turn around in a hurry if they are to win ball games. Turnovers played a crucial role in the losses to Wake Forest and Army. Without the turnovers, Duke could arguably be sporting a 3-1 record. Teams cannot win ball games against an evenly matched opponent when they turn the ball over. Saturday’s game against Maryland is a game the Blue Devils are capable of winning if they take care of the football and force the Terps to cough it up once or twice.

All statistics quoted in this article are from www.theacc.com and www.ncaa.com.

Stats Update: Josh Snead and Lee Butler Shine

Except the lopsided final score, Duke survived the Alabama game from a statistics perspective, which goes a long way toward validating the humorous saying often quoted, “Liars, damn liars, and statisticians.” There is more to football than numbers. However, that is equally true of the final score, which was the result of being overmatched against the best team in the nation. As Coach Cutcliffe stated when he addressed the media, “After getting into the game tape, multiple times, I’m more encouraged than discouraged about our athleticism, future, immediate future…we have some athletes…we have capabilities in place…”

There are several legitimate positive takeaways from Saturday’s loss starting with one offensive category not addressed in last week’s article: rushing offense. Duke is averaging 155.7 yards per game on the ground, which places them at number eight in the ACC and number 61 in the nation. The significance of these rankings is the improvement over last season when Duke was ranked number 120 or last in the FBS. With three games under their belt, all indicators show Duke will be able to run the ball in 2010, a fact with serious implications for defensive coordinators of future opponents who now must prepare a defensive game plan to counter a balanced offensive attack by the Blue Devils.

Desmond Scott and Josh Snead have both shown they can successfully run the ball, and the offensive line has demonstrated the ability to run block. Snead’s 83 yards from scrimmage against the Crimson Tide and Scott’s 129 the previous week against Wake Forest provide Coach Cutcliffe with a tailback tandem to factor into future game plans. Teams which successfully run the ball routinely feature two running backs. Duke has rushed for 467 yards in 2010, which is more than two and a half times the 184 yards Duke totaled during the first three games in 2009.

Punt and kick-off return performance are two more areas which were not addressed in last week’s article. Lee Butler is ranked number 15 in the nation in punt returns. He is averaging 15.25 yards per punt return after three games by returning four punts for 61 yards. Butler is also Duke’s leader in tackles with 21 on the season including six against the Crimson Tide.

Josh Snead is ranked number 31 in the nation in kick-off returns. He is averaging 25.75 yards per kick return by returning four kick-offs for 103 yards. Kick return performance is an area where Duke can gain an advantage over opponents in the critical starting field position statistic.

All statistical rankings quoted throughout this article are from www.theacc.com and www.ncaa.com.

Offensive statistical categories which remain impressive:

1. Total offense: Duke remains impressive in the total offense category by averaging 443.7 yards per game, which ranks number three in the ACC and number 27 in the nation. Performance in this category will climb with the Alabama game in the rear view mirror.

2. Time of possession: At 32 minutes and 27 seconds per game, this statistic is a bit misleading due to Alabama scoring on quick strikes. Duke is number one in the ACC in this category.

3. Third down conversions: successfully converting on 23 out of 48 opportunities (47.9%) is good for a number three ranking in the ACC and number 27 in the nation.

4. Red zone offense: Duke remains at 100 percent success in the red zone scoring eight touchdowns and four field goals in 12 opportunities.

5. First downs: Duke remains number one in the ACC with 71 first downs. The Blue Devils have rushed for 22, passed for 43, and been awarded six via penalties. These numbers result in Duke being tied with Notre Dame at number 16 in the nation.

Defensive statistical categories still need to improve:

1. Total defense: Duke ranks last in the ACC and number 117 in the nation by allowing 510.7 yards of offense per game to opponents.

2. Scoring defense: It is no surprise Duke is last in the ACC giving up an average 47.7 points per game. Those numbers rank number 118 in the nation. This is the statistic Duke must correct as the season moves forward. A defense can afford to bend as long as it does not break; however, Duke has given up way too many points so far this season.

3. Opponent first downs: Duke’s defense ranks last in the ACC and number 115 in the nation by giving up 75 first downs. Opponents have rushed for 33, passed for 36 and been awarded six via penalty.

4. Red zone defense: Opponents have scored on Duke in 13 out of 14 red zone opportunities, but the good news is Duke stopped Alabama once last Saturday. Duke is number nine in the ACC and number 98 in the nation.

5. Turnover margin: With a three to one turnover advantage this past Saturday; Duke now has a plus two (+2) in turnover margin, which is ranked number five in the ACC and number 33 in the nation. While the turnover advantage was irrelevant against Alabama, this remains a key statistic to follow for success on the gridiron.

Noteworthy individual performances:

1. Sean Renfree’s passing efficiency rating dropped to 135.6, which ranks number seven in the ACC and number 51 in the nation. His efficiency rating along with his conference and national rankings should climb moving forward. Renfree threw for 144 yards this past week dropping his season average to 284 yards per game, which is number two in the ACC and number 13 in the nation.

2. Conner Vernon was held to 10 yards on two receptions so his individual national rankings fell. He is number two in the ACC in receiving yards per game at 106.7 and tied with Donovan Varner for number two in the ACC in receptions per game at 6.7. Those numbers rank number 13 and 21, respectively, in the nation.

3. Desmond Scott remains at number two in the ACC in All-purpose yards but drops to number 23 in the nation with 153 yards per game. While he only rushed for 41 yards this past weekend he returned four kick-offs for 59 yards and had 28 yards receiving to total 129 all purpose yards. Scott fell from number one in ACC to number five in rushing yards. His 79.3 yards per game is currently number 54 in the nation.

This week’s contest against the Army Black Knights is a crucial game as the Blue Devils attempt to even their record at 2-2. All eyes are focused upon the defense after they’ve given up 116 points in the previous two games. If Duke is to record a victory over Army, the defense must step up and stop the Cadets offense. Be sure and check back with Blue Devil Nation next week for an updated stats report where we hope to report about improvement on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage.

Taking a look at early season statistics

Two weeks into the 2010 season, with the Blue Devils off to a 1-1 start with a 41-27 victory at home over Elon in the opening game, and a 54-48 loss to Wake Forest on the road, it is appropriate to take a look at statistical rankings for answers to a couple of basic questions. In which areas is Duke being successful? In which areas does Duke need to show improvement?

All statistical rankings quoted throughout this article are from www.theacc.com and www.ncaa.com.

In which areas is Duke being successful?

1. Total offense: In the first two games of the season, Duke has demonstrated a potent offensive attack racking up 514.5 yards per game, which is number one in the ACC and number nine out of 120 teams in the NCAA. Duke is number two in the ACC and number six in the NCAA in passing offense (354 yards per game) and number three in the ACC and number 20 in the NCAA in scoring offense (44.5 points per game).

2. Time of possession: at 32:10 per game, Duke is number three in the ACC and number 31 in the NCAA. With an effective offense, led by talented sophomore Sean Renfree, and questionable depth along the defensive line, Duke is a team which needs to have its offense on the field more than its defense. The time of possession statistic will be a critical indicator of Duke’s ability to be fresh in the 4th Quarter of ball games, and being fresh in the 4th Quarter will set Duke up to finish games strong.

3. Third down conversions: the offense needs to keep drives alive in order to score points and keep the opponents defense on the field. Duke is number one in the ACC with a 55.2 percent success rate (16 of 29) on third down.

4. Red zone offense: taking advantage of scoring opportunities is vital to success. Duke currently sits tied with Wake Forest at number one in the ACC and tied at number one in the NCAA (with 34 teams) with 100 percent success in the red zone. Duke has had the ball in the red zone 10 times scoring seven touchdowns and three field goals.

5. First downs: Duke is number one in the ACC and number five nationally with 54 first downs. The Blue Devils have passed for 34, rushed for 15, and had five awarded by penalty.

In which areas does Duke need to show improvement?

1. Total defense: Duke is number 12 in the ACC and number 105 in the NCAA allowing 453 yards per game. Opponents are averaging 177 yards on the ground and 276 through the air on Duke’s defense. The defense must toughen up and slow down future opponent’s offenses to increase the Blue Devils opportunity to win the football game.

2. Scoring defense: When you score 48 points in a game and lose it is obvious your defense didn’t slow down the opponent’s ability to put points on the scoreboard. Duke is number 12 in the ACC and number 114 in the NCAA giving up 40.5 points per game. The number 11 ranked team in the ACC, Wake Forest, is 10 points better than Duke at 30.5 points per game. Duke must reduce the number of points they are allowing.

3. Opponent first downs: Again Duke is number 12 in the ACC having given up 48 first downs to their first two opponents. Those numbers equate to a NCAA ranking of 108.

4. Red zone defense: Duke’s first two opponents have ventured into the red zone six times and scored six times, five touchdowns and a field goal.

5. Turnover margin: Duke’s plus/minus on turnovers is zero. However, with the challenges the Blue Devils face stopping opponent’s offenses, this number needs to be significantly positive. Wake Forest capitalized on Duke turnovers by scoring 21 points, while Duke did not convert the Demon Deacon’s turnovers into points.

Moving on to individual performances, there are three Blue Devils with noteworthy national rankings.

1. Sean Renfree: Passing yards – number two in the ACC and number four in the NCAA with 354 yards per game. Passing efficiency – number one in the ACC and number 20 in the NCAA with a QB rating of 159.4.

Renfree is off to an All-America quality start to the season. He is a very talented quarterback with a bright future.

2. Conner Vernon: Receiving yards per game – number two in both the ACC and NCAA with 155 yards per game. Receptions per game – number one in the ACC and tied for number four in the NCAA with nine receptions per game.

Like Renfree, Vernon is off to an All-America quality start to the season. Watching Sean Renfree throw the ball to Conner Vernon is going to provide Duke fans with much pleasure this season.

3. Desmond Scott: All-purpose yards – number two in the ACC and number 20 in the NCAA with 166.5 yards per game. Rushing yards – number one in the ACC and number 36 in the NCAA with 99.5 yards per game. Desmond Scott’s speed and strength provide Duke with an opportunity to maintain a semblance of balance on offense. Scott’s rushing yards per game could be the single most important offensive statistic for Duke football in 2010.

Duke’s rankings in these and other statistical categories will certainly fluctuate throughout the season so be sure and check back with Blue Devil Nation as we will update this article on a weekly basis to track the Blue Devils team and individual performances during the 2010 football season.

BDN goes 1 on 1 with Duke RB Desmond Scott as he prepares for Wake

Photo - GoDuke.com

DURHAM – Duke running back Desmond Scott hopes to build on last Saturday’s game where he led the team in rushing with 77 yards against Wake Forest this weekend.  BDN caught up to Scott for a 1 on 1 chat where he speaks of how big the game is and the fact he’ll be going up against people he played with or against in high school.

Just press play -

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Recapping Duke’s 41-27 win over Elon

Coach Cutliffe leds his troops to a 41-27 opening day win over Elon - BDN Photo

DURHAM – BDN takes a look at several aspects of the game and individual play in our first addition of Sunday Morning Quarterback for the 2010 season.

Sean Renfree Debut is solid

Renfree was one cool customer in the Blue Devils opening win throwing for 350 yards and 2 touchdowns.  More impressive was his completion percentage of 31 for 39.  Renfree took a sack in the game but from my vantage he looked off his receivers and when none were open took the sack instead of throwing what would have been a risky pass.  Renfree had control of his team and showed he was cool under pressure but he admitted that he was at times nervous.  Renfree is the key to Duke’s success this season and teams will start to come after him beginning with Wake Forest this Saturday.

Running game led by Scott

Durham native Desmond Scott rushed for 77 yards on 15 carries for a 5.5 yard average.  True freshman Josh Snead [1 touchdown] added 29 yards and fellow frosh Juwon Thompson 26 which translates into 4.1 and 3.1 yards per carry.  Jay Hollingsworth scored a touchdown but was not as effective gaining 16 yards on 10 carries.  Reserve quarterback Brandon Connette showed off his running ability scampering 48 yards down the sideline on his only carry.  Overall the running game improved but there is plenty of room for improvement with concerns to making big plays.

Offensive front solid

The offensive line seemed improved as well and Cutcliffe was able to play several backups as the game progressed which is for the first time in many years allowing the Blue Devils to build some depth.

Conner Vernon picks up where he left off

Vernon led Duke in receptions with 10 catches for 129 yards and the sophomore wideout shows tremendous confidence on the field.  There were several instances where he let the coverage know they could not stop him and that edginess to his game is refreshing.

Donovan Varner just as good

Varner took a while to warm up and he saw more coverage than any Duke receiver.  He still brought in 7 catches for a touchdown and 123 yards in receptions.

Good night for Brandon King

A few years ago King caught a TD pass vs UConn and it looked as if he would be a playmaker for Duke.  The Blue Devils are deep at the tight end position but King stood out last evening with a touchdown catch of 7 yards to go with his 5 catches.  Duke held out Cooper Helfet and Brett Huffman hauled in 2 passes as well.

A great opening night crowd

Fans turned out in force selling out Wallace Wade Stadium and the atmosphere was solid most of the evening.   The 33,941 fans still do not quite get on a whole when to cheer on key defensive downs but they are getting better and the support was appreciated by Cutcliffe and his team.  If Duke can beat Wake this weekend, Duke will have a strong crowd for the Army.  And Alabama?  Get there three hours before kickoff.

542 yards of total offense

Not bad, huh?  The offensive output was the most in the David Cutcliffe era.  The previous high was 502 in the win over N.C State last season.

The good

Offensively Duke looks as if they are really grasping Cutcliffes system in his third year at the helm.  Getting off to a 1-0 start is always nice and Elon is a good football team.  The passing game looks great after one game and the crowd was supportive and all promotions came off in a positive manner.  Duke was able to play a lot of players which will bode well for the future.  Duke had some young guys shine.

The bad

Duke had opportunities to put the Phoenix away but allowed them to hang in the game when the offense stalled via mistakes.  The Duke defense let up a whopping 400 plus yards and they could not stop Elon in the fourth quarter which is a concern.  The punting game was so-so and a missed field goal is concerning

The ugly

The third quarter was atrocious for Duke and they cannot afford that kind of a drop off versus Wake.  The Blue Devils came out a bit passive and that allowed the Phoenix to gain confidence and cut the lead to 27-20.

The bottom line

There were plenty of positives for Duke as has been mentioned but the defensive effort will have to improve if there is any chance of a win over Wake Forest in Winston Salem this week.  Bare in mind that Duke did not show their hand on offense and kept it close to the vest at times trying to establish a running game. Duke responded to adversity when the lead was cut to one score by getting it done on offense.  The bottom line is Duke is 1-0.

Next play

Duke will now travel to Wake Forest who has defeated the Blue Devils ten straight times.  Coach Cutcliffe keeps some game balls in his office and this is one of those wins which would mean another one on the shelf.  It is oh-so important to get a conference win for both schools and a shootout may be in store.

Durham’s Hillside Connection Ready To Spark The Duke Offense

Desmond Scott and Corey Gattis talk football with the Blue Devil Nation - BDN Photo, RIck Crank

DURHAM – It’s no secret that Coach Cutcliife and Duke Football have been mining local in state talent since his arrival on campus.   Two of those players which signed under his regime are local Durham kids in Corey Gattis and Desmond Scott.  The duo played their high school football at Durham Hillside and both hope to contribute on the offensive end this season.  BDN caught up with the duo for an interview during the annual Meet the Blue Devils day and here is what they had to say -