Saturday Lookback: Duke v Maryland

Reviewing the Blue Devils' fourth straight loss against Maryland while looking forward to the off week and beyond.

Duke gave up a couple of big plays -- one on special teams -- but otherwise the defensive effort in the 21-16 loss at Maryland was the team's best of the season.

That was one of the encouraging aspects of the Blue Devils' fourth consecutive loss. Now Duke has a week off before a home assignment against high-powered Miami.

Maryland was limited to 21 points, the fewest given up by Duke this season. The defensive improvement didn't come by accident.

"That's a result of the quality of practices and consistency," coach David Cutcliffe said. "When you are hungry and you work that way, you are going to get better."

A better rush defense was one of the factors that allowed the Blue Devils to put clamps on Maryland during parts of the game. The Blue Devils didn't allow Maryland a rushing play of more than 9 yards in the game.

If there was a downside it was that Duke didn't force a turnover, even with Maryland redshirt freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien completing only 9 of 26 passes. The Blue Devils have benefitted from only seven opponents' turnovers in the first five games this year.

--Duke scored first for the first time in five games in the outing at Maryland. In fact, the Blue Devils had the first three scoring plays with three field goals for a 9-0 lead.

--QB Sean Renfree's second-quarter interception against Maryland snapped a streak of red-zone scoring for the Blue Devils. Duke had scored on its first 16 trips to the red zone until Renfree's mishap.

GAME BALL GOES TO: LB Abraham Kromah -- Kromah, a senior, collected a career-high 15 tackles. This comes after making 13 tackles a week earlier against Army as he has become a major factor in the middle of Duke's defense.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DT Charlie Hatcher -- Hatcher is expected to be one of the anchors in the middle of the defensive front and he made a tackle for a loss against Maryland. He has been shaken up with injuries a couple of times this season and his presence on the defensive front is vital to the Blue Devils.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think in the red zone we need to have a better mentality and know that we are going to make that play to get in the end zone." -- WR Donovan Varner after the team settled for three first-half field goals and committed a turnover after moving deep into Maryland territory.


LOOKING GOOD: K Will Snyderwine was good on all three field goal attempts in the game at Maryland. Those came in the first half as the Blue Devils were able to capitalize on some early momentum. He has made seven consecutive field goals.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Blue Devils are looking for kickoff coverage to take another step. And that could bleed into the punt coverage, too, because giving up an 84-yard return to Maryland put the Blue Devils behind for the first time in that loss. Duke has put an emphasis on making gains in field position in all aspects of games.

--LB Kelby Brown, a true freshman who was tagged as a potential redshirt until he was used in the third game against Alabama, made his first career start against Maryland. Brown's six tackles meant he shared the second-most stops on the team in the game.

--QB Sean Renfree has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all five games this season. His touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter, when he attempted 23 passes (to tie for the fourth-most passing attempts in a quarter in school history).

--WR Donovan Varner had eight catches for 128 yards against Maryland, putting him above 100 receiving yards for the first time since the opener against Elon. He has eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark in both of his college games against Maryland.

The Devils Den Top Stories