Redshirt senior linebacker Kelby Brown went down on the second play of Duke’s intrasquad scrimmage, suffering an injury to his left knee. Brown rushed after redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Boone before falling to the ground in the backfield. He yelled and pounded his fist into the ground in obvious pain.
Brown was helped off the field by the medical staff and examined on the sidelines before being carted away. Head coach David Cutcliffe did not have an update on Brown’s status but says he will get an MRI.
“When you got a great person and a great player and a guy that’s a stalwart in the program that’s had two knee surgeries, and you know it’s his knee, it’s upsetting to say the least,” Cutcliffe said.
Junior running back Shaquille Powell was engaged with Brown during the play, but he did not know when the injury would have occurred.
“Kelby blitzed on the play and I picked him up,” Powell said. “I wasn’t sure if he had made contact with somebody else or his knee had buckled during the play, but we did make contact.”
Brown has already overcome two surgeries to his right knee, one of which caused him to miss the entire 2012 season. He finished last year with 114 total tackles, trailing only senior linebacker David Helton and redshirt junior safety Jeremy Cash.
“It was a tough time just seeing him over there hurt, so we were just coming together and finding leadership within ourselves,” Helton said. “He’s an unbelievable guy, an unbelievable leader.”
“Obviously people showed concern because Kelby’s a great player for us, but we do know that it will be in our best interest to keep on playing,” Cash said. “I just think we have to hone in even more. We gotta step up for what we’re now missing.”
Cutcliffe thought the defense did get off to a great start once the scrimmage resumed in spite of losing Brown. However, he added that a lot of the defensive stops occurred because of unforced errors by the offense.
“I’m not sure the crispness or the effort was what we are used to seeing,” Cutcliffe said. “I didn’t see really anybody on offense stand out other than probably the three running backs (Powell, redshirt freshman Joseph Ajeigbe, and freshman Shaun Wilson). I thought they did some solid things in the scrimmage.”
“It’s just locking in, staying focused,” Boone said. “We had a few drops early, a few miscues on the offensive line. That just comes with putting guys in different spots, seeing what pieces work, what pieces don’t.”
There were a few bright spots. Boone found senior wide receiver Jamison Crowder on a quick slant that went about 70 yards for a touchdown. Boone also hit redshirt senior wideout Issac Blakeney on a fade to the left corner of the end zone.
Overall, the offense was pretty sloppy with a lot of mistakes, including dropped passes by multiple receivers and misfires in the passing game. But let’s not take anything away from the defense.
The D-line got all kinds of pressure on Boone and redshirt sophomore quarterback Thomas Sirk with the second team. Redshirt senior defensive end Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo continuously got in the backfield and caused problems.
“When I saw the line when I was off of it, they did really well,” Helton said. “With D-lineman, if you’re playing, the only time you really notice is when they’re doing really bad. They didn’t do really bad. I’m excited to look at the film and see how they did.”
A young secondary was quick to the ball despite some minor mistakes when the offense began to pick up the pace.
“I think there were some issues when it came to the offense running their hurry up,” Cash said. “Fatigue set in. Once we overcome that burden and that little bit of adversity, we’ll be alright.”
You can’t overcome much more adversity than losing someone like Kelby Brown in the middle of the defense. If the injury does cause Brown to miss extended time, players like Cash will be forced to step up not only as playmakers, but also as vocal leaders.