Final Look: Duke v. Bama

A final look at the Blue Devils' game against the nation's top team before turning the page and focusing on this weekend's game against Army.

Duke's big opportunity fizzled before the Blue Devils knew what happened. It was a matter of shock treatment against Alabama.

Alabama held a 35-3 lead 21 minutes into the game.

"It was shock at first," quarterback Sean Renfree said. "To get beat like this is not easy."

The Blue Devils showed no signs that they could compete with Alabama. That's what disappointed them the most because this was supposed to be a measuring device to show how far they've come in coach David Cutcliffe's three seasons.

Instead, it was an embarrassing experience. Cutcliffe spent the final three quarters monitoring the morale of his team.

"You put the result behind you, but you don't put what caused the results behind you," Cutcliffe said. "We have to address everything we're doing poorly. At this point, we're doing so many things poorly, we have to prioritize."

Given the emphasis put on the visit from top-ranked Alabama, the Blue Devils will have a chore during the coming week putting their focus on a home game against Army.

--A week after allowing 35 first-half points against Wake Forest, the Blue Devils were more vulnerable against Alabama. The Crimson Tide built a 45-13 halftime lead, scoring its most points in a half in 37 years since putting up 45 in the second half of a romp against California.

--The Blue Devils managed to snap one of Alabama's streaks when S Lee Butler intercepted a second-quarter pass throw by quarterback Greg McElroy. That ended McElroy's string of 149 passes without an interception.

True freshman RB Josh Snead gained 83 yards on 14 carries and he showed several bursts that might bode well in the future. He didn't have any carries with negative yards. He didn't appear intimidated during stretches when the Blue Devils were clearly out of kilter as they were ambushed by top-ranked Alabama. He also gained more than 25 yards per attempt on four kickoff returns.

QB Brandon Connette is being used in short-yardage situations as another factor in the Blue Devils trying to establish a presence in their rushing attack. He threw four passes against Alabama, something that will need to be part of the package with Connette, if his presence is going to keep defenses guessing.

"We knew we had to get the jitters out. ... It was kind of a national championship type of game for us." -- S Matt Daniels, after the Blue Devils were pounded, 62-13, by Alabama in what was the most lopsided loss of coach David Cutcliffe's career.


P Alex King has taken over the first-string punting duties after moving to the front of the line at the position against Wake Forest. He averaged 41 yards on seven punts against Alabama and he could be called upon more often if offensive inconsistency continues. Early in the game, he made a clutch grab of a high snap that could have caused more problems for the Blue Devils.

The receivers are often the most prominent group for the Blue Devils, but catching the ball didn't come automatically against Alabama. There were a few mishandled passes and that's unusual for a team that puts such an emphasis on passing the ball. The Blue Devils can't afford shortcomings in this area because this should be a strength for this team.

--CB Johnny Williams apparently suffered a concussion late in the game against Alabama. The injury occurred when he made an open-field tackle. He experienced dizziness and didn't return to the game.

--LB Kelby Brown recorded a sack and a fumble recovery in his college debut against Alabama. He's a true freshman.

--TE Brett Huffman missed the Alabama game because of a leg injury. This week leading to the game against Army, he'll be listed day-to-day.

--LB August Campbell didn't play against Alabama because of a head injury.

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