A Chance For Redemption Comes Saturday

Clearly it has been a severely disappointing season for head coach Ted Roof and his Blue Devils. Duke is once again facing a winless season unless they can upset archrival North Carolina on Saturday.

In order to pull such an upset, the Blue Devils will need to improve in nearly every facet of the game. Early on the defense was dominant, but as the young offense has been ineffective throughout the season the defense has worn down, and is surrendering huge yardage totals over the last month, which has resulted in more losses - all blowouts.

With the increasing margins of the defeat, some have speculated the team has lost it's fight. Something Roof is certainly battling against with the help of his senior class.

"I feel bad for our seniors; I‚ve really been proud of their leadership and their commitment and their consistency," said Roof. "They‚ve been unswerving and they‚ve kept the young guys positive and the team on track. The process that we‚ve been through here has been very painful and very taxing and the real shame of it is that they‚re not going to be here when the results on the scoreboard change."

Given that the Blue Devils are 0-11 on the season and just 1-21 over the previous two seasons, several Blue Devil fans have begun to wonder aloud if Roof himself will be the head coach when those results change. Of course those cat calls could certainly die down in a big way if Duke can somehow win back the Victory Bell on Saturday.

„I think [a win] would make a heck of a difference [in terms of the season]. It‚s the last game of this season but we‚re treating it as the first game of next season as well, as far as how we approach our off-season in terms of the momentum it can give you. Also for our loyal fans and supporters that have stuck with us through the growing pains and a building process, we want to do it for them as well.‰

One senior playing his final game in Royal Blue will be John Talley, who enters the game with 18 career interceptions - just two shy of former Tar Heel Dre Bly's conference record of 20. Despite the individual accomplishments he's racked up in four seasons, Talley says he'd trade it all for some victories.

"It's been tough, because this isn't the season we thought we'd have," said Talley. "I don't really think about my individual records or anything like that, I'd rather have the wins."

Like his head coach, Talley understands that earning a victory on Saturday could make all the diffence in the world for the program.

„It would be a good way to start and end a career. We started with a win over Carolina. I think that would be a positive ending.‰

Not only for one of the Blue Devil's best defensive backs ever. Not only for an embattled head coach in search of his program's first victory over a Division I opponent in more than two full years. But for a senior class that has endured a head coaching change. Several assistant coaching changes. And, on the whole, more adversity than any other of their counterparts at other programs.

One victory over the rival Tar Heels would erase a good deal of all of that. It'll take the team's best effort of the year, but it is doable according to Roof.

"When they hold the ball up at the end of the game there won‚t be any football left for 2006. When we come back to the locker room we need to make sure we don‚t bring any regrets with us.‰

Indeed, no regrets need to be brought back to the locker room in the Yoh Center...but a freshly painted Victory Bell would be nice.

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