Receivers Provide A Bright Spot

Despite the losing streak there have been some positives for Duke's offense over the last month of competition.

The Blue Devils will have record-setters even though they won't be going to a bowl game.

With receivers Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon there are generally some positive things to build on.

Varner took that the next step by becoming the school's all-time leader in number of catches after snaring seven in Duke's 31-21 loss to Virginia. He has 194 receptions with two games remaining in his career.

The longevity and durability of Varner has been one of his endearing traits. While his numbers naturally rise because of the style of offense Duke uses, it's also a taxing experience for Duke receivers.

They're constantly running sometimes-exhausting routes. They're also subject to more hits because of the number of passes thrown in their direction.

Varner's remaining games will come against Georgia Tech and North Carolina, giving him a chance to build on his career numbers.

Vernon will be in line to smash any mark Varner leaves up there if he produces a senior season with any semblance of the consistency he has shown during his first three seasons.

NOTES, QUOTES
--The receiving tandem of WR Donovan Varner and WR Conner Vernon keep rising on career lists. Varner has at least one catch in 35 consecutive games. Vernon has a streak of 33 games in a row with at least one catch. They've combined for 360 career receptions.

--The Blue Devils tend to be better defensively in the second halves of games. They've allowed an average of 12.6 points in the second halves of games even though Virginia tallied 17 third-quarter points (but none in the fourth quarter).

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Conner Vernon -- He's often the primary receiver, but he's second on the active list of receivers with the Blue Devils behind WR Donovan Varner. With three more receptions, he'll hold sole possession of second place on the school's all-time list and he's a junior.

LOOKING GOOD: WR Donovan Varner is the career reception leader at Duke after making seven catches at Virginia. That gives him 194 career receptions, passing Clarkson Hines' total of 189. His 64-yard pickup at Virginia tied for the longest of the senior's career.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The emphasis on creating a depending rushing attack on offense has met more challenges. The Blue Devils picked up only 44 rushing yards from their running backs in the loss at Virginia. They can't seem to find a true go-to guy in the backfield, with RB Juwan Thompson and RB Desmond Scott trying to become that player.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The most significant thing is to get better every week and we'll never let that go." -- Coach David Cutcliffe, whose team won't go to a bowl this season. Duke's last bowl appearance came in the 1994 season.


STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES:
--RB Juwan Thompson rushed for two short touchdown runs at Virginia. That gives him seven rushing touchdowns this season. That's the most for a Duke running back since Justin Boyle's nine in 2005.

--The Blue Devils finally started extending the field in the passing game, with QB Sean Renfree throwing five passes that went for at least 20 yards. Two of those went for more than 50 yards.

--S Walt Canty showed that all the big numbers in the secondary don't have to below to S Matt Daniels. Canty, a junior, made a career-high 15 tackles against Virginia.

ROSTER REPORT --K Will Snyderwine's disappointing season added another chapter with a blocked field goal and a missed field goal at Virginia. With three extra-point kicks, he has 212 career points. That's nine off the school record.

--S Matt Daniels recorded nine tackles at Virginia, pushing his season total to 102. He's only the second Duke defensive back all-time to reach the 100-tackle mark in a season.

--LB Kelby Brown didn't play against Virginia because of a leg injury sustained a week earlier at Miami. He's the team's second-leading tackler. It marks the second year in a row that he has missed a game because of a November injury.


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