The Devils scored two non-offensive touchdowns Saturday, which is a boon for any team. True freshman Chris Davis gave the Blue Devils their first kickoff return for touchdown since 1999. The special teams, as a whole, were a highlight of the day. Aside from the TD return, Duke was able to consistently gain good field position with their kick returns.
Duke also did a solid job in coverage, holding Maryland's standout return man Steve Suter in check. Punter Trey McDonald did a nice job kicking the ball to the sidelines, not offering Suter many chances for returns.
The defense also recorded a score when cornerback John Talley returned an interception 85 yards for another score. The Devil defense came up with three interceptions, including the first career picks for safety C.J. Woodard and defensive end Eli Nichols.
What went wrong:
The Duke defense was completely unable to slow down the Maryland offense. The Terps ran a mind-boggling 100 plays and racked up 685 yards of total offense. The most telling statistic of how dominant the Terps played, despite running a total of 100 plays, they only punted once. The tackling by the Duke defense was extremely sloppy, and the defensive line was worn down by halftime.
On the other side of the ball, Duke generated only 185 yards of total offense. On a couple drives, they looked like a quality offense, attacking the Maryland defense through the air. On the rest, the Maryland defense overwhelmed the Blue Devil attack. Turnovers were also a problem, as Duke coughed it up four times with three fumbles and an interception. Considering the turnovers and the eight total first downs, it's amazing that Duke scored 21 points.
TDD Player of the Game:
One of the few bright spots of the game was the special teams, in particular the kickoff return team. Duke was able to consistently start their drives with relatively good field position. Return man Chris Davis averaged over 30 yards per return, and scored the Devils first kick return touchdown in five years. Davis is another one of the true freshman making a huge impact this year for Duke. For his efforts, Chris Davis is this week's TDD player of the game.
The Devils got their heads handed to them on both sides of the ball Saturday. The defense was completely dominated, especially on the line of scrimmage. That domination, along with pitiful tackling allowed Maryland to rack up 685 yards in total offense. There is no sugar coating the statistics in this contest. The Maryland offense held the ball for over 41 minutes, and made 27 more first downs than Duke. There is just no way to compete in a game with that sort of statistical differential. Duke has developed a knack for intercepting passes, but eventually, the defense has to force punts. They were unable to do so, save one instance near the end of the first half.
On offense the Devils tried to be more aggressive with the passing game, and it worked for a time in the first half. Quarterback Mike Schneider completed a 40-yard strike to Corey Thompson, and capped the drive off with a beautiful fade pass to Ben Patrick for Duke's only offensive score. The main issue the Devils had on Saturday was the inability to stop Maryland's offense. If Duke is going to win a conference game this season, the defense will have to find a way to stop people and force some three-and-out situations. Letting any opponent go 16 for 20 in third down conversions is a recipe for disaster.
Duke will host their second consecutive home game this Saturday as they take on the Citadel. The 1-AA Bulldogs dropped a 33-3 decision on the road against Auburn last week, a game that had some striking similarities to the Duke-Maryland game. The Bulldogs gave up 593 yards of offense to Auburn and 33 first downs.
On the other side of the ball, Citadel recorded eight first downs and only generated 169 yards of total offense. On paper, this should be a game that Duke should win easily. But as a 0-4 team that got whipped like the Devils did Saturday, Duke cannot take anything for granted.