Saturday Afternoon Look Back

Looking back on Duke's six point loss to the Demon Deacons in Winston Salem. The Blue Devil offense was on its game, but the defensive side of the ball raised a number of pressing questions.

Duke hasn't started well in the second half of either game this season. The Blue Devils have scored a total of three points in the third quarter. That's out of a season total of 99 points.

"I know we've had two third quarters which I'm not happy about," coach David Cutcliffe said.

The Blue Devils might have been gassed offensively after the 35-point first half against Wake Forest. Cutcliffe said there might be physical reasons why Duke wasn't up to par at the start of the season half, which began with the Blue Devils receiving the ball.

"I thought the emotion and energy was phenomenal at halftime," Cutcliffe said. "It just didn't transfer."

Wake Forest won 54-48 in the second-highest scoring game in ACC history. The Blue Devils went stale for stretches of the second half.

Duke's depth has been an issue for years and this might be another signal that despite strides made during the past couple of seasons that the depth issue is still something that haunts the Blue Devils.

--QB Sean Renfree completed 14 consecutive passes -- the last five vs. Elon and first nine vs. Wake Forest -- until one of his receivers tipped a ball that was intercepted to end the streak of completions. In the first half against Wake Forest, he completed 15 of 17 passes, with the other two going off receivers' hands for interceptions.

--Duke has scored 30 or more points in 11 games under coach David Cutcliffe, holding a 7-4 record in those games. Of the defeats, three have come against Wake Forest. The 48 points for Duke were the most in a loss in school history and it marked the fifth time in school history that the Blue Devils reached the 40-point mark and loss.

WR Conner Vernon -- He made 10 catches for a career-high 181 yards in the loss to Wake Forest. The sophomore scored two touchdowns, including tugging a pass away from a defender and racing off for one of the scores. He's averaging 155 receiving yards in the first two games.

RB Desmond Scott -- He has been in an increasingly competitive pool of running backs, rushing for 122 yards and one touchdown against Wake Forest. Scott showed breakaway speed on a 63-yard scamper, and his 11 rushing attempts accounted for more than all the team's other running backs combined. He has reached the 100-yard rushing mark twice in his career.

"Will it define us? No. ... There were so many encouraging things. I want players to understand that." -- Coach David Cutcliffe after a 54-48 loss to Wake Forest as the Blue Devils were denied their first 2-0 start since the 1998 season.


The passing offense remains the most efficient aspect of the Blue Devils. Duke reached the 350-yard passing mark for the second week in a row. The wideouts are most prominent in this endeavor with all except four of QB Sean Renfree's completions going to WR Conner Vernon, WR Donovan Varner or WR Austin Kelly.

Duke's interior defensive line was shredded at times in the second half when Wake Forest put together some solid, time-consuming drives. The Blue Devils yielded chunks of yards on the ground, by the end giving up 229 rushing yards. Further, the Blue Devils were kept so off balance along the front that they never recorded a sack against Wake Forest.

--CB Ross Cockrell, a redshirt freshman in his second game, was picked on regularly by Wake Forest's passing attack. But he also ended with his first interception when he picked off Wake Forest's Tanner Price.

--P Alex King handled all of the Blue Devils' punting after P Kevin Jones botched a snap and failed to recover the fumble on what turned into a Wake Forest touchdown. King, a walk-on, might be in line to keep the punting duties; his four boots went for an average of 48.8 yards.

--TE Cooper Helfet's first reception for Duke was for a touchdown in the first quarter against Wake Forest. Helfet, a junior college transfer and former lacrosse recruit at Johns Hopkins, sat out the opener against Elon with an injury.

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