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FSU, Manuel too much for Duke – Game Briefs

Coming into the game, I stated that if Duke went down two touchdowns early, that it would prove to be a long day.  As it turns put Florida State came out of the gate on fire and that allowed them a 17-3 1st quarter lead and that pretty much sealed the game.  Another 10 points in the 2nd quarter boosted the Noles lead to 27-3 and Duke went into half time with just 5 first downs.

 

Too much EJ Manuel

Manuel was throwing darts to his speedy wideouts and and the Duke secondary seemed a step slow to the ball all day long.  When the dust cleared, Manuel did a pretty good Cam Newton impersonation, going 9-14 through the air for 239 yards and two touchdowns.  He ran for another 81 yards and a score as well.  The Duke defense had no answer for his versatile style.

Tough stopping the run

Florida State rolled up 242 yards rushing for a 5.4 average per carry.  Too many big plays on offense doomed the Blue Devils chances of an upset bid.  Devonta Freeman led the Noles with 109 yards and a score.

Duke played better in the second half

Once the Blue Devils settled down, they played Florida State even,  The offense which struggled to five first downs in the first hald, doubled that with ten in the second half.  Juwan Thompson scored on a 1 yard run while Sean Renfree hit Cooper Helfet for a 5 yard score.

Desmond Scott looked good on his return

Duke junior Desmond Scott rushed for 66 yards for a 6.6 yard per carry average and played major minutes as the starter.  However, he did make a critical fumble which stalled a drive.  Scott broke off the longest run from scrimmage of the day on both sides when he scampered 34 yards down the Duke sideline.

Kicking game graded well too

Will Snyderwine booted a 38 yard fied goal and everybody was happy to see that after some early seaon misses.  Punter Alex King averaged 53.2 yards per kick with a long of 60 yards.

With Donovan Varner injured, Cut wants youth to step up

We don’t know how serious the injury is to Donovan Varner is but Coach Cutcliffe said in the post game that he needed Blair Holliday and Jamison Crowder to step up from this game forward.  The two young wideouts combined for two catches for a mere 10 yards.

Still no breakthrough win

The Blue Devil still seek their first win under Cutcliffe against a traditional ACC power, but they have a chance to beat a Wake Forest team next week that has owned them for a decade.  “We’ll be ready next week, I’ll guarantee you that,” said Cutcliffe.

Embarrassing student turnout

Who sent the memo that the game was canceled?  The worst student turnout of the year happened this past weekend and that with Duke riding a three game winning streak.  Hopefully, they will make it over for the Wake Forest game.

BDN’s Football Friday fills in for Duke’s off week

We missed you too! Just because it’s an off week for Duke Football, doesn’t mean it’s an off week at Blue Devil Nation. BDN brings you first hand coverage of Duke Football all year long, where we cover the team live. While #dukegang enjoys some well-deserved R&R, we bring you back a special in-season edition of BDN’s Football Friday. This edition is open to all fans to give you an idea of what BDN Premium brings to the table with our recruiting and team coverage. BDN has become the place to be for inside info on the football team, so spread the word and by all means join BDN Premium and discuss the latest happenings with fellow members.

#TeamNoDaysOff

Whenever Football Friday goes to a concert, a part of us always wishes that the band would just get to the hits right off the bat. Blow the audience away from the first drumbeat instead of the usual slow crescendo. Maybe that’s just us. Anyway, let’s hit the ground running with recruiting updates. You do remember recruiting, don’t you? It’s the stuff we obsess over when Duke isn’t playing football games. It’s also the stuff that keeps the coaches busy when the team isn’t playing games, and this week is no exception.

Jela Duncan remains priority number one, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Running back remains the one glaring hole in the Duke class of 2012, and the Blue Devils have had their sights set on the Mallard Creek star for quite some time now. The interest is mutual, as Duncan has repeatedly put Duke at the top of his list, primarily based on his close relationship with Head Coach David Cutcliffe. Speaking of the HC, he hit the road after Duke’s Thursday practice to visit with Duncan. Cut will also take in Mallard Creek’s game against North Mecklenburg. Duncan has been lighting up opponents so far this year, leading Mallard Creek to a perfect 6-0 record, while running behind big Florida-bound OL D.J. Humphries. Jela has an official visit planned to Purdue this weekend, and has already visited Duke several times, but is finalizing his other official visit plans.

Traveon Henry is another top running back prospect that the Blue Devil staff is enamored with, and the Fort Lauderdale native was in Durham to take in Duke’s big win against Tulane. That visit was Henry’s first official and sources say the visit went very well. Henry is playing his recruitment close to the vest, but they do plan to visit Florida State, Northwestern, and Yale later this fall. A star on both offense and defense, Henry as earned over a dozen scholarship offers. He also plays on the basketball team at Pine Crest and is a former teammate of Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight.

Jamie Gilmore is another Florida prospect that the Blue Devils are looking at as a potential running back in the class of 2012. The North Marion HS star plans to visit Durham in December, and is also eyeing visits to Maryland and Utah.

Duke will keep in touch with several other prospects, but would be unlikely to take a commitment until they’ve heard a decision from these three players.

So what about the rest of the class of 2012? Did you already forget the 14 newest Blue Devils-to-be? The Duke coaching staff hasn’t, and they will be hitting the road this weekend to check in with most of Duke’s verbal commitments. Just to refresh your memory:

TE Dan Beilinson 6’5” 225 pounds

OT Casey Blaser 6’5” 255 pounds

DE Allen Jackson 6’5” 225 pounds

WR Max McCaffrey 6’2” 185 pounds

K Ross Martin 5’10” 185 pounds

WR Anthony Nash 6’4″ 180 pounds

S Dwayne Norman 6’0” 182 pounds

TE Erich Schneider 6’5” 200 pounds

QB Thomas Sirk 6’4” 210 pounds

OG Tanner Stone 6’6” 255 pounds

S Michael Westray 6’1” 195 pounds

LB Deion Williams 5’11” 210 pounds

DE A.J. Wolf 6’4” 245 pounds

DE/DT Carlos Wray 6’2” 245 pounds

Looking at the list, Duke could use another LB and another lineman and the staff will have to crunch the numbers with regards to available scholarships for this class. A few of the remaining targets who are contemplating official visits to Duke are LB Keilin Rayner, LB Jeremiah Allison, DT D.J. Reader, OL Bryce Kennedy, and OL Robert Conyers. The coaching staff is also looking at a few hybrid athletes who could potentially fill an offensive or defensive position, depending on how things play out. Two such players would be Tysean Holloway from Asheville and Lakeith Walls from Ohio. And if you’re wondering whether Duke is searching far and wide for talent, Coach Lubick will be on the west coast this weekend, visiting Deion Williams, among other prospects.

3 in a row, Tic-tac-toe

A-B-C, 1-2-3, etc, etc. Duke can win football games. And they can do it in a variety of ways. Duke is playing much better football heading into their bye week than they were in week one, and that really should be no surprise. The Blue Devils have an experienced coaching staff and a young roster, with 67% underclassmen. There is plenty of reason to believe that the best is yet to come for the 2011 Blue Devils, but let’s recap what we’ve seen so far.

Duke has won three straight games, which is newsworthy in itself, but it’s even more notable when you look at how they won those three football games. After a disappointing 0-2 start, Duke traveled to Chestnut Hill with their confidence shaken and another dismal season staring them down. But, as BDN’s Terry Rains pointed out earlier, the Blue Devils were able to rally together and, behind a record-setting performance by Sean Renfree, were able to win ugly. Duke played a game that was far from perfect, but even with many costly mistakes, they emerged with the W. We always talk about how slim Duke’s margin for error is, but maybe that margin is widening just a little bit.

With the weight of the world off their shoulders, the Blue Devils returned home to a steamy Wallace Wade Stadium, where they dominated the Tulane Green Wave. The Duke offense faced little resistance from the Green Wave, and for the first time in a long time, the Blue Devils were clearly the better football team in all phases of the game. Duke was able to jump out to a 48-13 lead, which allowed a group of young players to take some meaningful snaps against a FBS opponent. It was a rare, but welcome, blowout win for the Blue Devils.

A week later, those late 4th quarter snaps proved invaluable, as the Blue Devils traveled to Miami to take on an impressive FIU team. BDN was on the scene to take in an entertaining game from “The Cage,” played in front of the largest crowd in FIU history. After Duke fell behind 10 points in the 4th quarter, instead of a sense of defeat, there was an air of quiet determination on the Duke sideline. The team was waiting for a spark to turn the momentum, and it came from an unlikely pair of Blue Devils. Two redshirt-freshmen, the all-hyphen team, DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo and SAF Anthony Young-Wiseman, both of whom were filling in for injured Blue Devils, came up with the decisive sack and fumble recovery that turned the game around for Duke. Against a quality opponent on the road, the Blue Devils played good, fundamental football. They did not commit a turnover and were whistled for just 2 penalties all night. It was an impressive performance for a program that has been haunted by miscues and misfortune.

For a good summary of Duke’s strengths and weaknesses thus far, be sure to check out Bob Green’s analysis of the Blue Devils first five games.

Where do we go from here?

Strap yourselves in, for it might be a bumpy ride, wherever we’re headed. The Blue Devils have a difficult road in front of them, with upcoming trips to Miami, Virginia, and North Carolina in November. Immediately after the bye, Duke starts a crucial three game homestand against Florida State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. There will be no easy wins in ACC play, but the Blue Devils are playing good football and are capable of competing with every team left on the schedule. That’s not just coach speak.  For those interested in some unpaid, unofficial advanced scouting work, tune in to the ACC network at 12:30 PM ET to watch the Seminoles travel to Winston-Salem, a free preview of Duke’s next two opponents.

At 3-2 heading into the off week, Duke has managed to keep their bowl hopes alive, but they will need to play their best football down the stretch if they hope to extend their season into December. Of course, while Football Friday may not be here in writing, we’ll be around in spirit every step of the way. This young Duke team still has a lot in store for us. WE ARE DUKE.

Resilient Duke comes back to defeat FIU 31-27

The Duke Blue Devils capped off a huge turnover with a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage where Juwan Thompson rambled 6 yards into the the right side of the end zone.  That score gave Duke a 31-27 lead that would stand.  The reason the lead would stand is because of a stand, one by the defense where they turned back FIU in the redzone after a 11 play 60 yards drive deep into Duke territory.

Duke then ran out the clock for the win and go to 3-2 on the season, 1-0 in the ACC.  The Blue Devils were aided by the fact that they did not commit a turnover and had but two penalties in the game.  That offset the discrepancy in total offense, where Florida International had 184 more yards than did Duke.

Sean Renfree had another good outing going  28-43 for 335 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions.  One of those touchdowns went to Conner Vernon, [8 receptions, 117 yards,  1 touchdown] one part of the Miami receiving duo returning home the other being Donovan Varner [7 receptions 111 yards].

The other touchdown thrown by Renfree went to Cooper Helfet for 22 yards which gave Duke a 17-14 lead.   The Blue Devils found themselves trailing 27-17, but on this night they were resilient and opportunistic in their comeback win.

More to come on BDN, including post game interviews with players and Coach Cutcliffe.

Former Duke LB Abraham Kromah picks against the BDN Staff

Former Duke linebacker Abaraham Kromah, fresh off a CFL workout, picks against the BDN Staff this week. The standings are ugly. Suffice it to say, Bob Green is still in the lead.

 

Mark Watson - FIU got caught looking ahead last week and lost their first game of the season.  Duke must be on their toes at all times, for FIU is all about the big play.  Duke has now gained confidence, but Renfree will not have as much time as he did against Tulane.  The Blue Devils will go all out in that they have a bye week coming and that effort will help them to their third straight victory.  Duke 34, FIU 28.

Bob Green - FIU will test the Duke defense with their team speed, but the Blue Devils’ overall superior talent level will persevere.  On offense, Duke will look to strike hard early, and achieve balance by mixing some runs and multiple short passes with long throws to deep threat Conner Vernon.  A key statistic to keep an eye on is Time of Possession as through four games Duke is ranked #7 in the FBS at 34:29, while FIU is #104 at 27:06.  With Lee Butler unavailable due to injury, true freshman Jamison Crowder will handle punt return duties in addition to his normal role returning kick-offs.  Before this season is over, I expect Crowder to break out with a big return or two and this weekend in Miami would be a great time for Crowder to shine.   Duke 27, FIU 21

Patrick Cacchio - ESPNU was wise to televise this game, as it should be both entertaining and competitive. Both offenses feature explosive talents that are likely to put up points on the board. The Blue Devil defense is playing with renewed confidence after two victories, while the Golden Panthers will look to fight back from a disappointing conference loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Uncle Mo is on the Duke side, and it should be enough to carry the Blue Devils into their off week at 3-2 behind another strong performance by Sean Renfree.  Duke 31, FIU 27

Andrew Slater – Florida International will look to get back on track as they take on the Blue Devils for their homecoming game. Their two offensive stars, QB Wes Carroll and WR Ty Hilton, were banged up last week against Louisiana, but are supposed to be healthy enough to go against their second BCS opponent of the season. Hilton was impressive earlier in the season when he racked up 201 yards against Louisville on national television, while the senior Carroll broke many of the school’s passing records on last season’s bowl run. Last week, RB Kedrick Rhodes stepped up and tried to fill the void by rushing for 157 yards in FIU’s first loss of the season. Defensively, they should be concerned about Duke’s resurgent passing attack, which is now averaging over 300 yards per game. QB Sean Renfree has been able to pick apart defenses by throwing short, accurate (72.7% completion percentage) passes to his tough and relatively deep receiving corps. RB Juwan Thompson distinguished himself last week by averaging nearly five yards per carry and getting his first two TDs of the season. The season-ending injury to Kenny Anunike will be a big one as he helped Duke finally establish a consistent pass rush and was the ACC’s sack leader through the first four games. Matt Daniels, the team’s leading tackler, will need to rally the troops and keep the momentum moving forward in South Florida. Even without their two stars, this dangerous FIU team was able to score 31 points last week. FIU 31, Duke 28.

Abraham Kromah - FIU will look to put pressure on Sean Renfree after his most recent performance against Tulane and it will be up to the Blue Devils’ offensive line to neutralize it. If this happens Duke will have a field day, considering the defense is really coming into their own. Senior Safety Matt Daniels is playing like a Thorpe Award finalists and will not allow a pass to be completed nor a run to break for more than 7 yards as he looks to lead the Duke defense to it’s third straight victory. Look for former all-conference receiver Don Varner to have a breakout game, assuming FIU will spend most of their time double covering Vernon (after his stellar performance last week). Duke 28, FIU 10

Sean Renfree talks of the win and this weeks opponent

Blue Devil Nation recently  caught up with an upbeat Sean Renfree who spoke of his rushing touchdowns and overall play against Tulane.  This session was shared and a good portion of the questions were from my pal, Al Featherston of GoDuke.com

How does Duke keep this two game winning streak going?

We’ve got to keep working.  We have some injuries on the team, so we need young guys to come up and step into those positions which I’m sure they will.  If we continue to work and get better we can follow the momentum to the next game.

Were you glad that the Connette or Boone package was sacked in favor of you in the red zone against Tulane?

I don’t think about it that way but we had success every time we were down there against Tulane.  We were able to run it, throw it and it helped that Coach saw we would be able to do that in the red zone against Tulane.  I don’t know what their plan is this week, but haven’t thought about it like that.

You had three running touchdowns in the last two games and three passing touchdowns …

Right … [smiling]

So you are trying to show what you can do in there?

Those runs are not really schemed up for me where I am suppose tp be running the football.  It’s been a case of reading what the defense gives me and when you have to run, you run.  We’ve only had one call where I got the call and I pretty much went in untouched, so there was great blocking.

You seemed to be seeing the field really well in the win over Tulane.  Of course, you had good blocking but can you speak to that?

Yeah, just trying to me more composed.  Out guys were getting open so it wasn’t hard to get those reads.  I just did my job and when the receivers are going to get open, it makes my job simple if I am accurate.

Is it easier to prepare for the coming week after a win or a loss?

Winning makes everything easier and you feel better he next day but it is a challenge for guys to respond, especially after a win.  You still have to make corrections.

Can you speak of Juwon Thompson and his averaging close to 5 yards per carry this season and how that helps?

It makes my job a lot easier and the line doesn’t have to pass block on every play.  It makes us more multiple and keeps defenses on their toes.  If you run the ball successfully, it opens up the play action and we were able to do that a couple of times last week.

Now, if it were me, I’d have spiked the ball and whooped it up after those touchdowns.  You were just really cool about it, all business if you will. [joking] And then you ran back to the bench like it was no big deal.

Uh, [smiling] it wasn’t about me on those touchdowns they were pretty easy and well executed from our guys.  And I don’t want to hear anything from coach, so it wouldn’t be good for me to get a 15 yard penalty or anything like that.  If our guys make big plays they don’t celebrate, so I’m not going to either.

You’re too humble, Sean [laughing]

Yeah, well. [laughing]

You would have had another touchdown if there were NFL rules.  The pass to Vernon would where he slides in untouched, that’s an NFL touchdown.

Right, right, I didn’t think about that.  I’m not too worried, we got it on the one and scored.

How important is it to get to over .500 against Florida International who comes into the game the favorite?

I think if we were to go 3-2 it would help.  We are going to have a break the week after and a bye week, so if we can go into that week on a positive and get everybody healthy that would be great.  But if we are under .500 we have to fight and in ACC play as well to get back even.  It would help us long term if we can get a win this week.