The Good And Bad: Duke-Virginia

After all the preseason hype and high expectations, the Blue Devils opened the 2003 season with a less than stellar performance. TDD's resident football guru takes a look at what went right and wrong, and looks towards next week's game.

What went right?

Not much, but Duke did have some pretty decent individual performances. LT Drew Strojny held last year's ACC freshman of the year Darryl Blackstock sackless. Also, QB Mike Schneider and TE Ben Patrick both made good impressions in their college debuts. RB Chris Douglas had a Duke-high 89 yards on 19 carries. Most impressive about Douglas's day is that he gained a good majority of those yards against a stacked UVA front geared to stop the Duke rushing attack.

What went wrong?

Overall team execution on offense and defense were abysmal. UVA's star QB Matt Schaub was knocked out of the game early in the first quarter, but reserve Anthony Martinez was able to direct the Cavalier offense despite a shaky start. The Duke defense seemed to pursue pretty well, but the tackling was atrocious. Duke was also unable to stop toss sweeps and off-tackle runs. The defensive ends were being pinned inside, and the LBs and DBs were missing tackles on the perimeter, which resulted in large gains for the UVA offense. The Blue Devil offense did not have much luck against a much-improved Wahoo defense. The Devils only recorded a feeble 120 passing yards, despite having open receivers all game. QB Adam Smith really struggled with his passing accuracy, completing only 6 out of 20 passes.

Player of the game:

RB Chris Douglas was one of the lone bright spots for the Blue Devils. Despite facing 7 and 8 men in the box, he was able to scratch and claw his way for 89 yards on 19 carries. He also caught one pass for 17 yards. For his efforts, Chris Douglas is this weeks TDD player of the game.

Final Analysis:

Duke was clearly outclassed by a better football team Saturday night. The Devils looked decent defensively in the first quarter, but fatigue from being on the field all game really caught up to the Devils. The defense started missing tackles, and, eventually was overcome by a vastly improved UVA offensive line and skill players. The offense was hampered by the absence of Alex Wade and Khary Sharpe. Missing these two players, however, is no excuse for being shut out by a decent but not great UVA defense. The Devils really needed some better play calling as well. The plays being run were for the most part unimaginative and didn't play to strengths of the players in the game. While the players are responsible for the execution of the plays, they do need some help from the folks on the sideline. They must ensure that the play calls make sense in the context of the game.

Looking ahead:

Duke will begin its 2003 home slate against 1-AA Western Carolina. While the Catamounts are definitely not in the same league as Duke talent-wise, they are not going to roll over and play dead. WCU employs a spread attack on offense that pout 20 points on the board in Raleigh against NC State this past Saturday. They will not be easy to defend. Duke's offense will have a big chance to get right. WR Khary Sharpe will return to the field. This should bolster the receiving corps. Also, watch to see who starts under center for the Blue Devils. Mike Schneider played pretty well in his initial game as a Blue Devil. Incumbent Adam Smith struggled mightily. Will there be a new starter for Saturday's game?

The Catamounts are not very big or fast on defense. The Devils should be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. This is a huge game for head coach Carl Franks. After such a lackluster performance in the opener, the Devils have to get on track this week. If not, the team's confidence could be shot, which would make for yet another long season for the Blue Devil faithful.

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