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Observations from Duke’s loss to Miami

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke defense played well enough to win, but the offense was no help in Saturday’s loss to Miami.  Anthony Boone and the rest of the Blue Devil offense never found any rhythm.  We have seen what this Duke offense is capable of, so there is no sense in overreacting to their performance, but they will have to regain their focus and get better for the Blue Devils to have any chance of successfully defending their Coastal Division title.  Duke will head into the bye week 0-1 in conference play.

Key Observations:

Anthony Boone’s struggles this season have been documented before, but they were on full display against Miami.  Boone was 22/51 for only 179 yards and had 2 interceptions.  Boone was all over the place with the ball, overthrowing deep routes and bouncing passes on shorter routes.  There were plenty of drops by the receivers as well, which certainly didn’t help Boone get into any semblance of a rhythm.  Boone did make a couple of nice throws on Duke’s only touchdown drive of the game in the second quarter.  One was a deep pass down the sideline to Johnell Barnes.  The other was on a back shoulder throw down the sideline to Issac Blakeney that was dropped.

The play calling did Boone no favors either.  Boone hasn’t been sharp at all through the first part of the 2014 season, but for some reason the gameplan called for 51 passing attempts.  It wasn’t situation play calling either.  Duke was never down more than 9 points until midway through the fourth quarter.  As successful as the run game had been for the Blue Devils it was ignored for the most part.  Duke only ran the ball 23 times against a Miami defense that gave up over 300 rushing yards to Nebraska last week.  One can only assume Scottie Montgomery and the rest of the coaching staff saw something on film to make them think they could attack the Miami secondary, but when it came time to play the Blue Devils simply could not execute.

As ugly as the offense looked the defense deserves praise for their performance Saturday night.  After giving up two straight scoring drives to open the game, the defense really settled in and played a strong game.  Jeremy Cash was all over the field making plays.  His knack for reading plays and making big hits is really becoming a calling card of sorts for the Blue Devil defense.  Duke did give up an average of 5 yards per carry to the Hurricanes, but there is only so much you can do against Duke Johnson.  The defense probably would have been even better if the offense could have sustained drives and stayed on the field.  The Duke offense was just 2-16 on third down and 0-3 on fourth down.

Additional News and Notes:

The loss snapped Duke’s 12 game winning streak in the regular season and also marked Anthony Boone’s first loss in the regular season as a starting quarterback.

True freshman Shaun Wilson continued his strong play.  He had 105 total yards.  74 yards came on 6 catches.

After the bye week Duke will face Georgia Tech.  The Blue Devils haven’t beaten the Yellow Jackets since 2003.