Duke vs Maryland: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

After playing tough in the opening quarter, the Blue Devils shot themselves in the foot on numerous scoring chances enroute to a 28th consecutive ACC loss. <i>TheDevilsDen.com</i>'s football analyst takes a look at what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to change before the Devils face off against Wake Forest next weekend in Wallace Wade.

What went right?

Statistics-wise, this could have been Duke's best performance of the season. The Devils out-gained the Terrapins in total yardage, rushing yardage, passing yardage, first downs and time of possession. The RB combination of Alex Wade and Chris Douglas had the best day of the season, rushing for 77 and 61 yards respectively. The Blue Devil special teams had another solid game, not allowing Terp return man Steve Suter to get free for any big gainers. The Duke defense did a solid job against Maryland's top two backs. Josh Allen and Bruce Perry were only able to gain 36 yards each.

What went wrong?

Penalties, turnovers and missed offensive opportunities defeated the Blue Devils today. Every time Duke drove the ball in the first half, they were stopped by either an untimely 3rd down penalty, or a costly turnover. Duke was penalized a staggering 13 times for 88 yards, many coming at critical junctures in the first half. The turnovers directly cost Duke 10 points. The game basically ended on an errant shotgun snap from center Luke Bayer that was recovered by Maryland. The Terps recovered the ball inside the Duke 10 yard line. Maryland punched it in 3 plays later to make the score 27-0, and effectively put the game out of reach.

Player of the game:

Welcome to the 2003 season, Alex Wade. After struggling with an early season hamstring injury, Wade has his best game of the season to date, rushing for 61 yards and two touchdowns. The first TD was a classic Wade run, as he got into the secondary and ran through 2 would-be tacklers to the endzone. Wade was also Duke's leading receiver, hauling in four passes for 48 yards. For his efforts, Wade is the TDD player of the week.

Final Analysis:

Duke radio announcer Bob Harris kept repeating on the radio, "The Terrapins are ripe to get beat." Harris was right on the mark here. Duke matched the physical play of UM throughout the game, and the Maryland offense looked a little out of sync. Everything was falling in line early for Duke to pull the possible upset. The defense was playing really well and the offense was moving the ball. Unfortunately, Duke picked a really inopportune week to commit a truckload of penalties. The miscues were a constant thorn in the side of the Blue Devil offense, killing many drives right when the Devils were just about in scoring position. The defense probably played their best game of the season Saturday. They were, however, put into too many bad situations by the offensive turnovers. QB Mike Schneider was aggressive with his passing, throwing the ball down the field on many occasions. If he completes one or two more of those passes, this game could have had an entirely different complexion. All in all, a good team effort by the Devils, but not good enough.

Looking Ahead:

Duke will hold its annual homecoming game this weekend. Coming to town are the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Much like the Northwestern game, this is a benchmark for the 2003 Blue Devils. Wake is a team with a similar talent level as the Devils. The Deacs, however, have executed their offensive and defensive schemes more efficiently up to this point. Wake appears to be scuffling a bit, having dropped 3 of their last 4 games. Duke will be watching a lot of tape this week both for preparation and motivation. Last year's contest in Winston-Salem could have been the oddest game of the season in the ACC. Duke controlled the pace and tempo of the game for the first 3 quarters. This resulted, however, in a 23-10 deficit, mainly due to a blocked FG and a subsequent INT that were both returned for TDs by Wake. The Deacon offense dominated the final quarter for the 36-10 victory. Duke will need a similar effort, minus the blocked kicks and turnovers, to emerge victorious.

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