From The Stands: Duke v. Notre Dame

Reviewing the Blue Devils' loss to Notre Dame on Saturday and looking forward to the season finale against arch rival North Carolina.

What went right?

The Devils got their first chance to play in high-definition TV on a national stage. The away uniforms looked great on my 37" HDTV. My wife has been very patient and understanding with me this season as the Devils pile up loss after loss. She is happy that only one more game remains in the season.

What went wrong?

Simply put, the Devils made a bad football team look good on Saturday. The Notre Dame running game, sporting the worst yards per carry average in the country coming in, piled up 220 yards on the ground, the majority of which came in the second half. The Devils did a good job of bottling up the Notre Dame offense for 29 minutes in first half, but allowed two quick touchdowns in less than a minute to dig themselves a 14-point hole going into the locker room. At that point, the team quit on the coach and the Irish offense was able to wear down the demoralized Duke defense.

TDD Player of the game:

Cornerback Jabari Marshall had the best day of his career on Saturday. The junior recorded five tackles and broke up 3 passes. He provided Duke with tight coverage all game long. For his efforts, Marshall is this week's TDD player of the game.

Final Analysis:

The analysis of this game is simple. Duke made a few mistakes late in the first half to get down 2 scores and never mentally recovered from the setbacks. The Devils were going toe-to-toe with the Irish the entire half, but two late fumbles ended up costing the Devils 14 points. The defense allowed the nations worst offensive team 414 total yards, including 220 on the ground, and four scores. On offense, the Devils were a comedy of errors. Two critical fumbles by team leaders Thad Lewis and Jomar Wright set up the first two Irish scores. The skill players were slipping and sliding all over the place while Notre Dame did not slip once. They could not hold on to the ball. Of course the offensive line allowed way too much pressure on Lewis and forced him into some panicked decisions. All in all, the team once again did not show up for a game against a beatable opponent. That is the legacy of the Ted Roof era to date.

Looking ahead:

The Devils will close their miserable 2007 season against their hated arch-rival North Carolina Tarheels. With their loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday, the Tarheels dropped to 3-8 in head coach Butch Davis's inaugural season in Chapel Hill. Despite their unflattering record, UNC is playing much better of late. They have been giving great effort over the last month and have stayed in games and competed against superior opponents. The same cannot be said for the Blue Devils. After breaking their 23-game losing streak, the Devils have now embarked on another 8-game skid. A win against UNC on Saturday would be a nice salve in the wound that is the 2007 season.

For head coach Ted Roof, this contest could be the swan-song in his 4 year tenure at Duke. Athletics Director Joe Alleva indicated on Friday that Roof would be evaluated at the season's end. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the embattled coach. Despite Alleva's 5-year promise to Roof upon hiring him, the AD will have a difficult time justifying keeping him around for year five. For whatever reason, the Devils are just not winning enough games to keep Roof around. If he is to be let go at season's end, it would go many a Blue Devil fan good to send Roof out a winner against UNC.


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