It's hardly an earth-shattering revelation to point out that outmanned and youthful Duke (1-8, 0-6 ACC) has to play a nearly perfect game to have a chance at winning an ACC game.
But as the Blue Devils began preparations for their trip to Clemson this week coming off a pounding by Wake Forest, coach Ted Roof noted just how fine a line that is.
"On most plays, we had either nine of 11 or 10 of 11 guys doing the right thing," Roof said after reviewing the tape. "So from an efficiency standpoint, we need to pick that up because some programs, when they go nine for 11 or 10 for 11, somebody makes a play and it kind of erases it.
"Right now, where we are with our margin for error, we've got to operate at 11 for 11. That's 11 players doing exactly what they're supposed to do on that play and being more efficient."
That's typical of a young team, but in addition to their youth, the Blue Devils also have been bedeviled by injuries throughout their entire lineup.
"This is certainly not an excuse, but it reiterated that at one point last week, we had 16 guys who had started games for us missing practice, and I've been around very few people who can miss practice and play well," Roof said. "Like I said, that's not an excuse, but we've just got to be a more efficient football team and a more efficient coaching staff as well."
The Blue Devils also have had a hard time getting started in the second half. Just in the third quarter alone, they have been outscored 139-29 on the season.
"We've been like that all season," said freshman WR Eron Riley. "We'll play a decent first half and after we come out for the third quarter, it seems like we are a different team. We just tend to break down in the third quarter."
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The good news is the Blue Devils keep mixing up their tailbacks and are averaging almost 140 yards per game rushing. With veteran TB Cedric Dargan out with an injury, three different tailbacks -- Ronnie Drummer, Justin Boyle and Requan Boyette -- have started the five games he has missed. The bad news is Duke is throwing for just under 93.3 yards per game (116th out of 117 Division I-A teams). Last week, three different quarterbacks were used in each of their first three series in a loss to Wake Forest -- freshman Zack Asack, who took over as the starter for junior Mike Schneider after four games; Schneider, and freshman Marcus Jones, who also plays wide receiver.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Duke was shredded for 419 yards rushing in the loss to Wake Forest. Opponents are averaging just over 209 yards a game on the season on the ground. The Blue Devils have only nine interceptions and 11 sacks and are surrendering 199 yards a game to opposing passers.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Gut-wrenching. It's gut-wrenching. But at the same time, it's not like there's no hope and everything's bleak. That's not the way it is. It's frustrating because when you see things done right, good things happen. Like I said, we've all got to do better to help go that much further."- Coach Ted Roof, on what it's like reviewing game tapes of the Blue Devils.
Roof Facing Uphill Climb
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