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Observations from Duke’s win over Wake Forest

Credit:Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Duke secured back to back nine win seasons for the first time in program history with a 41-21 win over Wake Forest.  The Blue Devils were reeling after suffering back to back home losses to Virginia Tech and North Carolina.  Saturday’s win was important, not only for regaining some momentum heading into the post season, but to also ensure Duke ends up in a high profile bowl game.  The Blue Devils did their part.  While looking a little flat at times on defense, Duke was able to dig in and win convincingly in a tricky game that saw an on-side kick, a fake punt, and a touchdown by an offensive lineman.

Key Observations:

It was Senior Night, and, fittingly, Duke’s seniors led the way.  Anthony Boone finished the game with 275 yards on 19/31 passing.  He had 1 passing TD and 1 rushing TD.  Boone also had 29 yards on the ground.  Jamison Crowder had 8 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, while Issac Blakeney had 7 catches for 107 yards.  Jack Willoughby recovered his own on-side kick in the first half.  The surprise play was followed by Boone’s 52 yard touchdown pass to Crowder.  Senior linebacker CJ France recovered a fumble on a punt return in the first quarter that led to a Shaun Wilson touchdown run.  After the poor showing in their last two games, the Blue Devils needed their leaders to step up to get Duke back on track and salvage the season.  On Saturday the seniors did just that and Duke got a convincing victory when they needed it most.

The Duke defense came out a little flat, but made plays when they needed them most.  In what was an odd flip from the majority of the season, the Duke defense was particularly fragile in the secondary while being stout against the run.  The Wake Forest offense had been one of the worst in the ACC throughout the season, but on Saturday it all seemed to come together for freshman quarterback John Wolford.  Wolford completed 24/36 passes for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns.  The Blue Devils best corner, Breon Borders, was targeted regularly, another odd occurrence based on the rest of the season, and was beaten for 2 touchdowns.  The Demon Deacons’ offensive line woes have been well documented, so its not a huge surprise that the Blue Devils were able to control the line of scrimmage on defense.  Wake Forest only managed 64 yards on the ground and an average of 2.7 yards per carry.

After the game the Duke administration invited everyone to join the team on the field to ceremoniously kick off the renovations on Wallace Wade Stadium.  Bulldozer were brought in for the groundbreaking and fans were allowed to take pieces of the field home with them.  Athletic Director Kevin White addressed the crowd in what was a memorable moment for the program.  The construction truly is a metaphor for the revitalization going on inside the program.  White, Cutcliffe, and the rest of the staff and administration have helped transform the football program and now it is time for the stadium to reflect the current state of Duke Football.  When the football team takes the field at Wallace Wade in 2015 the track surrounding the field will be gone, replace by approximately 6000 seats.  By the time the 2016 season begins a new tower will be constructed in place of the current Finch-Yeager building.  The tower will house luxury boxes and a new press box.  Duke will also have a new concourse featuring upgraded vendor areas and more restrooms.  The Yoh Football center and indoor practice facility were the first steps in bringing the Blue Devils football facilities up to the standards they have set for themselves.  Now a revitalized stadium will complete the transformation.

Additional News & Notes:

Jamison Crowder is now second in ACC history in receptions.  He needs seven to tie former Blue Devil Conner Vernon.  Crowder also moved into third on the all time receiving yards list.

The 25 Duke wins over the last 3 seasons is more than the Blue Devils had in the previous 10 years combined.

Duke will learn their bowl destination on Sunday, December 7.