Duke: Searching for Confidence

Attitude is everything. Before facing Florida State last week, Blue Devils coach Ted Roof ensured his players that he knew they could play with Florida State.

It turned out that way, too.

"If you don't have confidence going into the game, you're just going to get steamrolled," said linebacker Brendan Dewan. "We came out firing. You could see that we wanted it."

That's the approach Duke hopes to carry into the final two games, both at home. The Blue Devils host Clemson on Saturday in what could be an intriguing matchup. The Tigers are coming off one of their biggest wins in school history, upsetting Miami in the Orange Bowl.

Duke is coming off a confidence-building loss at Florida State -- a game where the Blue Devils trailed only 19-7 into the fourth quarter and had a chance to really make the Seminoles sweat. An interception in the end zone, on a goal-line play, thwarted Duke's chances to make it a five-point game.

The only downside was the possible loss of senior cornerback Kenneth Stanford, who has an upper-body injury that may sideline him the rest of the season.

"You don't ever want to see somebody's career end on an injury," Roof said. "I don't think that will happen, though. I am worried about that, because he's given so much and done so much and made himself a pretty good football player."

Stanford suffered the injury midway through the fourth quarter last Saturday. If the Blue Devils can overcome his loss and get recharged emotionally, they might have a chance to stay in the game with Clemson.

No matter what happens, the team has been competitive in most of the games this season, a far cry from past years.

Scouting the Duke Offense: The Blue Devils like their direction, especially with the continued development of QB Mike Schneider, a sophomore, who has brought promise for the future. The Blue Devils hope TB Cedric Dargan can help establish a running game against Clemson.

Scouting the Duke Defense: Injuries are taking a toll. In addition to CB Kenneth Stanford, LB Giuseppe Aguanno is playing on an injured knee. Still, what has saved Duke all year is the ability to generate turnovers. The Blue Devils have 13 interceptions, 21 takeaways in all, which ties them for the ACC lead with Florida State and Virginia Tech. Five times this season, Duke interceptions have led to touchdowns.

Quote to Note: "Yes, I got tackled by a quarterback. But it's a turnover and a big momentum swinger, so I'll take it." -- Duke LB Codey Lowe, who has been ribbed by teammates all week for having FSU QB Chris Rix stop him en route to the end zone after his interception last week.

Players to Watch: QB Mike Schneider -- In his last three games, the sophomore has completed 62 percent of his passes for 646 yards and four touchdowns. He has progressed a sizeable distance from the season-opener, where it looked like Duke would spend another year without a clear No. 1 quarterback.

TB Cedric Dargan -- Despite playing in only four games, Dargan has produced three 100-yard games and is 12th in the ACC among all rushers.

TE Ben Patrick -- He's caught 16 passes in the last three games, including a career-high six catches against Florida State. He's ninth in the ACC in catches per-game.

Roster Report: The Blue Devils list CB Kenneth Stanford (upper body injury) as doubtful, but won't disclose the injury. And you never know with Duke. A week ago, LB Giuseppe Aguanno (knee) was listed as out for the FSU game, but wound up playing and recording seven tackles.

If Stanford can't go, then freshman Daniel Charbonnet will replace him. Charbonnet has started games earlier this season when Stanford was sidelined.

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