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Duke vs. Wake Forest: What to Watch For

Credit:Ellen Ozier-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ellen Ozier-USA TODAY Sports

When: Saturday, November 29, 2014. 7:00 pm

Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, North Carolina

Television: ESPNU

Line: Duke -18

All Time Series: Duke leads 55-37-2

Last Time: (25) Duke 28, Wake Forest 21.  Anthony Boone threw 3 touchdown passes on the day, 2 to Jamison Crowder, to bring Duke back from a 14-0 deficit in the second quarter to topple the Demon Deacons.  Wake Forest were prepared for the Blue Devils on the ground, limited Duke to just 3.5 yards per carry.  Luckily for the Blue Devils, Anthony Boone and Jamison Crowder could shoulder the load.  Boone finished the day 24-29 for 256 yards and three touchdowns, along with 57 rushing yards on just 7 carries.  Crowder caught 10 passes for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Senior cornerback Ross Cockrell the last of his 12 interceptions as a Blue Devil.  The victory gave Duke nine wins on the season, the first time the Blue Devils had reached nine wins since 1941.

What to Watch For:

1.  Devils Must Rebound:  No this isn’t a complaint about the basketball team.  Duke has to find a way to pick themselves up after back to back, devastating losses.  The two defeats eliminated the Blue Devils from the ACC Coastal race, a race they were leading just two weeks ago.  Duke had their sites on a return trip to Charlotte to face the Seminoles for the ACC Championship.  Instead of running through the finish line of the regular season the Blue Devils fell flat on their face.  All is not lost, however.  Duke appeared to let the Hokies beat them two games in a row, letting their mistakes and errors in execution carry over into Thursday night’s showdown with North Carolina.  They cannot let themselves be beaten again like that.  Duke still has plenty to play for.  The program has never experience back to back nine win seasons.  A win over Wake Forest would solidify another in a long list of accomplishments achieved by the program over the last few seasons.  Despite recent success, Duke hasn’t won a bowl game since 1961.  Digging in and finishing the season on a winning note would give the Blue Devils plenty to be proud of heading into the offseason.

2.  Another Test for the Offense:  As much of a punchline as Wake Forest football has become, they still field a respectable defense.  They only allow an average of 189.2 passing yards per game, good for 15th nationally.  The Duke offense hasn’t played a complete game since the overtime win over Pittsburgh.  They will need to find some consistency against the Demon Deacons or they could be in for another tense four quarters.  Anthony Boone has been criticized for his accuracy this season.  Opponents have game planned well for the Blue Devils in recent weeks and have done a good job at slowing the run game and getting pressure in the backfield.  Both of those are recipes for disaster when your quarterback isn’t playing his best ball.  Boone can’t do it all alone.  The offensive line needs to play better.  After getting off to a great start, as good as any line in the country, the Blue Devils have surrendered multiple sacks in each of the last few games and haven’t given Boone enough time to get comfortable in the pocket and get the ball downfield.  The receivers have to do a better job at getting separation against single coverage and holding onto the ball when it gets to them.  It was a team effort, or lack there of, that got the Blue Devils into this hole and it will take a group effort to get them out of it.

3.  Senior Day:  Saturday will be the last time we see a lot of great Blue Devils play in Wallace Wade Stadium.  The last few seasons have brought great change for the Blue Devil program and the current crop of graduating players played a huge role in the progress that has played out over the last few years.  Anthony Boone will leave Duke as the winningest quarterback in program history.  Jamison Crowder will depart as one of the best receivers in ACC history.  Running back Josh Snead was a four year contributor and helped instill a confidence in the Blue Devil run game that hasn’t been present in decades.  David Helton has been a premier linebacker in the ACC over the last two seasons.  Laken Tomlinson, perhaps the Blue Devils best NFL prospect, has anchored one of the best offensive lines in Duke history, along with Takoby Cofield.  The list of contributors goes on.  This years senior class was far from the most revered when they arrived in Durham, but the transformation we have seen since their arrival is unprecedented.  Aside from Crowder, most of them may not be remembered in the history books of the ACC for very long, but Duke fans will never forget them.  Hopefully they end their Duke career with a victory.  Regardless, they deserve our applause and appreciation for their efforts both on and off the field over the last 4-5 years.  Congrats, Seniors.