Not much went the way of the Blue Devils this weekend. The only offensive highlight of the day was the season debut of Marcus Jones at wide receiver. After playing under center for parts of the early season, Jones saw his first action out wide and hauled in 4 receptions. Defensively, Duke only gave up 253 yards of total offense and 12 first downs to the Cavaliers. The Blue Devil pass rush also showed life, sacking UVA QB Jameel Sewell 5 times.
What went wrong?
It will be tough to keep the length of this list short. The Duke offense was completely overmatched Saturday, especially along the line. QB Thaddeus Lewis had his worst day as Blue Devil, throwing 3 interceptions and losing two more fumbles. Lewis also fumbled three snaps, and on three different occasions had an offensive lineman trip him as he was dropping back to pass. On the rare occasions that Lewis had time to throw; he played well, but was too often forced to improvise because of the lines' poor play. Duke also had a few special teams breakdowns. An early game punt return to the Duke 21-yard line set up Virginia's first score. Later in the first half, a missed blocking assignment in a spread punt formation led to a blocked punt and another Virginia score. The Duke defense did not play a bad game, but could have been a little stouter in the red-zone. Still, they were put into an impossible situation time and time again by the ineptitude of the offense.
TDD Players of the game:
It is very difficult to pick out a player of the game in such a lopsided loss, but the Duke had some good individual efforts on the defensive side of the ball. The play of Duke's strong safeties Glenn Williams and Adrian Aye-Darko gave the Devil fans something to cheer about. Both players recorded 7 tackles and they combined for 2.5 sacks. For their efforts, Williams and Aye-Darko are this week's TDD players of the game.
There is no way to sugar coat it, the Duke offense was putrid on Saturday. I have been watching college football for 26 years now and The Devils offense was the worst I've seen in that span at the Division one level, bar none. The offensive line was unable to slow down the Virginia defense. Duke was having all sorts of trouble with the most basic football fundamentals, such as the quarterback/center exchange. There is plenty of blame to assign for this pitiful performance, but at some point the coaching staff will need to devise a gameplan to minimize the offensive weakness (offensive line) and maximize the strength (wide receiver). Duke will not win a game this season without significantly improving their offensive performance.
Duke is now in a bad spot in the schedule. After opening the season with 3 seemingly winnable games, the Devils now enter the meat-grinder portion of the season. First up, a trip to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. After a tough SEC loss to Florida, the Tide will be looking to get back on the winning track against the lowly Blue Devils. Alabama's calling card this season is their defense, which spells big trouble for the inept Blue Devil offense. The Duke coaching staff has their work cut out for them this week as they must first figure out how to get the offense in gear against a very stout Crimson Tide defense. Also on the plate is to repair the psyche of a defeated Blue Devil squad. The team needs an infusion of confidence from somewhere. Hopefully the staff can formulate a gameplan that will give Duke a chance this weekend. If last Saturday was any indication, Duke is going to be in for a long day against the Crimson Tide.