Tag Archives: Josh Snead

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.

A Fan’s Guide to the 2010 Blue Devils

Blue Devils star wideouts ready for Elon. Pictured are Donovan Varner Austin Kelly and Conner Vernon. Photo copyright Blue Devil Nation

In preparation for kickoff Saturday night against Elon, BDN provides a  guide to the 2010 Blue Devils. Hop on the Duke Football bandwagon now and join Blue Devil Nation as we cover the Duke Football beat all season long.  We’re ready for some football! 


Blue Devil Walk: Coach Cutcliffe has adapted this pregame ritual to Duke. Two and a half hours prior to kickoff, the entire team gathers in front of Duke Chapel for a moment of reflection and prayer. The team is led by the marching band on their procession across West Campus and into Wallace Wade Stadium. Fans line the sidewalk to offer encouragement and support. Arrive early to find your spot.

Blue Devil Alley: On football gamedays, the area commonly known as Krzyzewskiville during basketball season is transformed into Blue Devil Alley. Blue Devil Alley is an area of games, music, and concessions for all ages and opens two and a half hours prior to kickoff.

Gameday updates: Visit Duke’s A to Z guide for information on parking, traffic, and other stadium policies. New for 2010 will be text message and Twitter updates.  And of course BDN’s twitter site has long been a popular destination on gameday for updates.  We’ll have same day/evening post game interviews as well on Blue Devil Nation.

Coaching Staff

Coach David Cutcliffe goes into his third season with Duke. Photo copyright Blue Devil Nation

Coach David Cutcliffe is in his third season as head coach of the Blue Devils, having turned down the opportunity to coach at the University of Tennessee this past offseason. Coach Cutcliffe is best known for having coached several great quarterbacks at Tennessee and Mississippi, including both Peyton and Eli Manning. Coach Cutcliffe’s teams feature a no huddle offense and prolific passing attack. In his two seasons at Duke, Coach Cutcliffe has a record of 9-15, having won 4 games in 2008 and 5 games in 2009. Kurt Roper serves as Duke’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Marion Hobby takes over as defensive coordinator in 2010, after the offseason departure of Mike MacIntyre to become the head coach at San Jose State.

2010 Blue Devils

Duke returns 18 starters from last year’s team that finished 4th in the Coastal Division of the ACC. The Blue Devils will play 7 home games in 2010 against Elon, Alabama, Army, Miami, Virginia, Boston College, and North Carolina. Duke’s 5 road contests will take place at Wake Forest, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Navy, and Georgia Tech. This represents the third most difficult schedule in the ACC, based on 2009 records ; Duke’s opponents were a combined 94-60 overall. Season tickets have sold out, but individual game tickets and ACC 3-packs are still available at GoDuke.com

Duke senior tight ends Brett Huffman and Brandon King pose for BDN on photo day - copyright BDN photo

Returning Players to Watch

#19 Sean Renfree QB, redshirt-sophomore: Renfree takes over at starting quarterback in his third season with the Duke program. In 2009, Renfree played in 5 games, throwing for 4 touchdowns with 2 interceptions and completing 68% of his passes. Renfree suffered a torn ACL against Georgia Tech and missed the remainder of the 2009 season and 2010 spring practice. He was a full participant in fall training camp and has impressed his coaches and teammates with his grasp of the offense. A highly-ranked recruit out of high school, Duke expects big things from Sean’s arm in 2010 and beyond.

#26 Donovan Varner WR, junior: Varner’s 2009 campaign earned him first team All-ACC honors, as he posted team-high 65 catches, 1,047 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Despite the graduation of QB Thaddeus Lewis, analysts expect Varner to maintain his high level of performance, selecting him to the preseason All-ACC first team and preseason All-American honorable mention. Varner joins a dangerous receiving corps for the Blue Devils with senior Austin Kelly (#83) and sophomore Conner Vernon (#2).

#33 Desmond Scott RB, sophomore: After leading the Blue Devils in rushing as a true freshman in 2009, Scott won the starting running back job during fall training camp. His 2009 campaign included a breakout 100 yard game against North Carolina Central, followed by mixed success. Coach Cutcliffe has praised Scott’s ability as a “complete back,” being able to excel in running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield, and pass-blocking.

#62 Bryan Morgan C, senior: Morgan was elected a permanent team captain in 2010 by his teammates, and for good reason. The senior center leads the team with 24 consecutive starts and over 2,000 career snaps. Though undersized for an offensive lineman, Morgan is one of the strongest linemen on the team and consistently battles on every snap. His musical gifts and community service are also well-documented. He is a true leader for the team on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.

#8 Abraham Kromah LB, redshirt-senior: Kromah was also elected a permanent team captain in 2010 by his teammates and is the vocal leader of the defense. After battling injuries in 2009, Kromah is one of the strongest players on Duke’s defense and should become one of the team’s leading tacklers.

#56 Damian Thornton LB, senior: Thornton is Duke’s strongest player on defense and will line up in several different formations at linebacker. Having played over 1,100 snaps in his career, Thornton is one of Duke’s defensive leaders and hardest hitters. Thornton will use his strength and speed to bring pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

#40 Matt Daniels S, junior: Daniels is one of Duke’s most talented defenders and is also the active leader in career tackles with 105. An Academic All-ACC selection, Daniels started all 12 games for Duke in 2009 and showed flashes of his playmaking ability. Duke will call upon Daniels to be a consistent playmaker in the secondary in 2010.

#16 Chris Rwabukamba (RUB-uh-COME-buh) CB, redshirt-senior: Rwabukamba is Duke’s senior leader in the secondary and is the third permanent team captain elected by his teammates. A fourth-round selection in the 2010 Canadian Football League draft, the Ontario native is Duke’s active leader in pass break-ups, including a game-saving interception at the 1-yard line at Vanderbilt in 2008.

#3 Johnny Williams CB/WR/PR, junior: Just call him Johnny-on-the-spot. Williams transitioned from WR to CB during spring and fall practice, but will be on the field in all phases of the game. As one of the best athletes and playmakers on the team, Williams will line up at cornerback, wide receiver, and punt return for the 2010 Blue Devils.

New Players to Watch

#81 Cooper Helfet TE, junior: the junior college transfer is an explosive receiver and will line up in several different positions in Duke’s potent passing attack. At 6’4” and the fastest of Duke’s tight ends, Helfet will help the Blue Devils stretch opposing defenses downfield.

#9 Josh Snead RB, freshman: From nearby Smithfield, NC, Snead enrolled at Duke in January and hit the ground running, leading the Blue Devils in rushing in the 2010 spring game. Snead will use his dynamic speed to break open runs on offense and special teams.

#23 Juwan Thompson RB, freshman: Another speedy freshmen who has earned playing time with his play during training camp.

#5 Brandon Braxton WR, freshman: Even with Duke’s depth at wide receiver, Braxton has earned playing time already as a true freshman. His big-play ability brings a new weapon for QB Sean Renfree.

#18 Brandon Connette QB, freshman: Another January enrollee, Connette beat out returner Sean Schroeder (#12) for the backup quarterback job. He will receive snaps as a true freshman and will utilize his ability to run the ball to help Duke move the chains.