Saturday Lookback: Duke v BC

Reviewing Saturday's game against Boston College and looking forward to the rest of the year

The Blue Devils couldn't duplicate a comeback, so they're left without a chance of going to a bowl game after losing their seventh game of the season.

A week after rallying to defeat Virginia, the Blue Devils were denied by Boston College.

Duke reached the Boston College 4-yard line with less than a minute to play and trailing by five points. It should be no surprise that the Blue Devils kept the ball in the air, but quarterback Sean Renfree's pass was batted away near the line of scrimmage, and receiver Connor Vernon, a sophomore with a career-high 12 catches in the game, never got the chance to see if he could add to his total.

Completing these missions is never easy, especially for a Duke team that's still trying to find its way.

"We're absolutely a work in progress," coach David Cutcliffe said.

The best example of that might be the 307 passing yards compiled by the Blue Devils, yet the offense never put the ball in the end zone. The team's only touchdown against Boston College came on a fumble return in the 21-16 loss.

The Blue Devils need better production in their red zone. The two-quarterback system used close to the goal line came under scrutiny in this game, but that doesn't bother Cutcliffe.

"We are used to it. It's what we do," he said. "I have no second thoughts on that."

NOTES, QUOTES
--The streak continues for the Blue Devils. By losing to Boston College, it means Duke won't qualify for a bowl game this year. The Blue Devils haven't been bowl-eligible since 1994 under coach Fred Goldsmith.

--The Blue Devils were in danger of giving up more points in the 21-16 loss to Boston College, but they benefited from two forced fumbles in the red zone. Duke has collected at least one turnover in eight of its 10 games this year, with one of those against Boston College resulting in the first defensive touchdown of the season for the Blue Devils.

GAME BALL GOES TO: K Will Snyderwine -- Snyderwine connected on three field goals, giving him a school-record 18 this year. He broke the record of 17 field goals that he set last year. He has drilled 16 successful field goals in a row.

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Brandon Braxton -- Braxton made a season-high four catches. The true freshman is figuring into the offense's plans more often. He caught two passes on the game's opening possession and that allowed him to become a factor even when he didn't have the ball because he was another option for QB Sean Renfree. Braxton has at least one catch in four consecutive games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They have a very good run defense. To get stopped in the red zone is tough. Things just get tight down there, especially in the passing game. The windows become smaller." -- QB Sean Renfree, referring in part to Duke's 4 rushing yards in the loss to Boston College.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

LOOKING GOOD: P Alex King sent three of his six punts inside the opposing 20-yard line against Boston College. He averaged 42.5 yards per attempt, with one going for 51 yards. Boston College managed returns on three punts, averaging 7 yards per return.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Different running backs have taken advantage of Duke's defensive line, and the next opponent, Georgia Tech, likely will want to keep the ball on the ground. Boston College gained more than half of its yards against Duke on the ground.

ROSTER REPORT:
--QB Sean Renfree threw 49 passes without tossing an interception against a Boston College defense that swiped four interceptions a week earlier at Wake Forest. Renfree is without an interception in three consecutive games, with 108 total passes in those games.

--S August Campbell had his first career start in the Boston College game. The redshirt freshman had a fourth-quarter fumble return of a school-record 95 yards, wiping out a record of 77 yards that had stood for 54 years. "Luckily, (teammate) Abraham Kromah didn't recover the fumble," Campbell said. "That left me open to get the ball to scoop and score."

--WR Connor Vernon, a week after leaving the game against Virginia with an injury, was back in action and on a roll with 134 receiving yards on 12 receptions. That's his fourth game this season with at least 100 receiving yards.


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