Instant Reaction: Duke 46, FIU 26

The Blue Devils opened the 2012 season in a very positive fashion, defeating Florida International 46-26. Here's five things that stood out upon further review.

Duke has been haunted by slow starts to the season and in individual games in recent years. That trend appeared to continue when the Golden Panthers saw QB Jake Medlock hit Kedrick Rhodes for a 64 yard scoring pass just 43 seconds into the first quarter. On the next possession the Blue Devils lost four yards on three plays and punted. Rather than allowing the proverbial flood gates to open, Duke took control of the game by scoring on five of their next seven possessions.

The Blue Devils took the lead just four seconds into the second quarter when Brandon Connette hit David Reeves for an eight yard score. The Blue Devils actually went on three drives of 72 yards or greater on their way to a 30 point performance in the second 15 minutes. It was the fourth highest scoring quarter in 100 years of Duke football.

Senior WR Conner Vernon moved into first place on the school's all-time receptions list by hauling in 10 catches to bring his total to 208, passing former Blue Devil Donovan Varner. Varner's replacement, Jamison Crowder, added seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.

Prior to the game head coach David Cutcliffe spent quite a bit of time talking about the abilities of kicker Ross Martin and punter Will Monday. Each was as good as advertised - a year after Duke dropped a a number of close games. Martin did miss a 39 yard attempt in the fourth quarter, but prior to that he connected from 34 yards and knocked home all five of his extra point attempts. Meanwhile, Monday averaged 45.2 yards per punt and pinned the Panthers inside the 20 yard line twice while logging a long of 60 yards.

He wasn't even listed on the depth chart (because "we didn't know how to list him"), but just as Cutcliffe mentioned in the pre-game press conference, Brandon Connette was a factor. The RS Sophomore lined up as a quarterback, a receiver, and a tailback while accounting for Duke's first two scores and helping the team set the tone of creativity and aggressiveness.

Duke scored off a blocked field goal and a two point conversation attempt returned for 98 yards. As one poster on the TDD Football Message Board put it: "This is the kind of thing that happens against Duke…" Perhaps not this season as the Blue Devils took advantage of the opportunities presented and it helped to put the game away. Coupled with strong special teams performances and innovative offensive attack, Blue Devil fans have quite a lot to be excited about as the 2012 season kicks into high gear.

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