Duke v Clemson: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Heading into the weekend the Blue Devils were hoping to build on last week's momentum. However a fired up Clemson team and an all too familar flat early performance doomed the Devils to another ACC loss. TDD's football guru takes a look at what went right, wrong, and what we can expect in the near future.

What went right?

Since almost nothing went right for the Devils on this day, I will use this space congratulate Chris Douglas. With his 11-yard carry on Duke's initial play from scrimmage, Douglas passed Steve Jones to become the Blue Devil's all-time leading rusher. His career totals now stands at 3,003 yards. Douglas also passed Ted Brown (NCSU) to become #2 on the ACC's career all-purpose yardage list. Douglas will need 223 yards of all-pupose yardage to break the record held by UNC's Leon Johnson. It's a long shot for Douglas to reach this mark, but definitely not out of the question.

What went wrong?

To put it simply, Duke just laid an egg on Saturday. Anytime an opponent scores 40 points, it is fair to say the defense didn't do their job. That being said, the offense and special teams has as much to do with the score as the defense. The passing game was downright offensive. Duke only managed a paltry 57 yards through the air, and 174 yards of total offense. After outplaying their opponents for the majority of the season on special teams, Duke had several uncharacteristic breakdowns. Between a fumbled kickoff return, allowing a punt return touchdown, and running into the punter, the Devils specialty units had a day to forget.

Player of the game:

Despite the defense giving up 40 points, there were a few bright spots. The brightest was the play of true freshman cornerback John Talley. The South Carolina native recorded two interceptions in his return to the palmetto state. Both picks occurred in the end-zone, which prevented Clemson from really running up the score. For his timely efforts, Talley is this week's TDD player of the game.

Final Analysis:

It would seem the Devils had a bit of a letdown after breaking their 30-game ACC losing streak against Georgia Teach last weekend. They were dominated in every phase of the game. A year ago, Duke was able to control the line of scrimmage against the Tigers and nearly pulled the upset. This season, however, Clemson took the fight right to the Devils up front, and the result was a completely one-sided football game. Going into the game, Duke knew that they had to get consistent pressure on Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. Duke was only able to generate token heat, and Whitehurst picked the Blue Devil secondary apart to the tune of 331 yards. The Tiger wide receiver Derrick Hamilton and Kevin Youngblood completely outmatched the Duke cornerbacks with their height and ability. The Devils were only slightly more successful stopping the Clemson ground attack. The Tigers were able to rack up 142 yards rushing.

Duke had even more problems on offense. Despite having trouble scoring points this season, Duke has been able to move the ball up and down the field consistently. Not this day, however. Clemson stacked the line against Duke and dared the Devils to beat them throwing the ball. As evidenced by the passing numbers, Duke was not up to the challenge. The Tigers proved one point about the Duke offense. Until they find a way to pass the ball effectively, the Devils will have trouble scoring points.

Looking ahead:

Quick question: Who has the longest conference-winning streak against Duke? The answer is Duke's final opponent, the North Carolina Tarheels. UNC currently owns a 13 game winning streak over the Devils, dating back to 1990. If there were any chance to end this streak, this would be the year to do it. Both teams are tied for last place in the ACC with one conference victory each, and UNC only has two wins overall. The Heels are last in the ACC and second to last in the country in total defense, giving up over 500 yards per game. This contest will also have big ramifications for the future of Duke football. Before the Clemson debacle, Ted Roof could have been considered one of the top candidates for the Duke head coaching job after this season. Now, Roof needs a victory against the arch-rival Tarheels to strengthen his resume. If Duke lays another egg in the season finale, there will be serious question regarding Roof's ability to get a team ready to play on Saturdays. The initial emotion of the mid-season coaching change has worn off. It's time to see what Roof and his staff can do.


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