Box Score Notes: Duke v. Kansas

While the final score left no doubts as to which was the superior football team, there were some bright spots in Lawrence for the Blue Devils. Additionally there were some very telling statistics. TDD reviews both.

The Good:
  • The Blue Devils' passing attack was actually effective against the Kansas defense in spells. Overall Duke racked up 299 passing yards while completing 60 percent of their passing attempts. In a total of 50 throws, the Blue Devils were picked off just twice despite the Jayhawks getting a good amount of pressure on the Duke quarterbacks and collapsing the pocket more often than not.
  • In their quest to run the ball, the Duke offense managed to record nearly 100 yards more (140) than their season average entering the game. While many of the yards were accumulated after the outcome was well established, it had to be encouraging to the coaching staff to see the performances of Jay Hollingsworth and Patrick Kurunwune - both of whom were able to square their pads and keep the legs churning after the first hit.
  • The kicking game was also a nice surprise. Having been the bane of the various coaching staffs' existence over much of the last decade, it would appear as though walk-on junior Will Snyderwine has won the job - and most likely earned a scholarship in the near future. Against Kansas he booted a 37 yard attempt from the left hash mark that would have been good from 50. In addition he handled the kick-off duties and averaged 64 yards per kick with a touchback.
  • Likewise, the punting game was rather solid as Kevin Jones continued to workout his kicking leg. Jones averaged 42.0 yards per kick with a long of 57. He was able to pin the Jayhakws inside the 20 once. In addition the punt coverage was very good. Aside from a 23 yard burst by Daym Patterson, the Blue Devils held Kansas to a 6.67 average on punt returns.
  • Patrick Egboh had a very good afternoon, recording Duke's only sack as well as a tackle for loss from his defensive end position.
  • Despite the absence of Vince Oghobaase, the Blue Devils were able to get some pressure from the middle of the defensive line with John Drew, Charlie Hatcher, and Kinney Rucker all playing well in pockets. Hatcher recorded a blocked extra point, Rucker notched a couple of solo tackles and a quarterback hurry, and Drew logged a handful of tackles on his own.
  • Early on the Duke gameplanning and pre-game scouting was good enough to keep the Blue Devils in the game until just before halftime when the deficiency in depth and overall talent allowed Kansas to build and then stretch a lead.

The Bad:

  • Heading into the game, the reality was that Duke needed to keep their offense on the field and thus, keep the Jayhawks' high powered group off. Instead, the Blue Devils' offense had eight of their 14 possessions take less than two minutes off the game clock. Certainly coach Cutcliffe will take the opening drive which lasted just 35 seconds and resulted in a touchdown, but he cannot be thrilled with the other seven possessions. Most notable among those was the drive that started at the 4:55 mark. Duke had just doing down 13-7 after watching Kansas move the ball 53 yards on four plays. Duke got the ball and went three and out, moving just two yards in 52 seconds. Despite a good kick from Jones, the Blue Devils had given Kansas more than four minutes of time to work with. The home squad would proceed to move 75 yards in nine plays to make it 20-7 while using just 2:47 of the remaining time - effectively ending the game.
  • Duke also had some costly mistakes by some veteran players. The first drive of the second half saw senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis throw the ball right to the Kansas defensive lineman who raced to the endzone to put the game away just two minutes into the second half.
  • It was part of a span of five straight Kansas possessions in which the Jayhawks added points to the score boards. Kansas went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal while taking up a combined 12:23 of game time. In those scoring instances, the Jayhawk offense racked up a combined 256 yards on 33 plays.
  • While there is plenty of concern around the offensive side of the ball, a noticeable problem was the Duke receivers' inability to get separation from the defensive backs. Without that, the quarterbacks were forced to buy time by whatever means possible. This forced a number of off balanced throws that ended a couple of drives via either interception or turnover on downs.
  • The injury bug appeared to bite Duke hard when redshirt freshman Sean Renfree was knocked out and didn't return. However, in Sunday night's media call-in, Cutcliffe reported that the 6'3 Arizona native will be healthy and ready to go this week.

Looking Forward:

  • Duke returns home to face North Carolina Central in a game that means virtually nothing in the grand scheme of things. A win against Central will not count towards bowl eligibility, which means the Blue Devils are essentially in a glorified scrimmage. That's not necessarily a bad thing. NCCU enters the game 0-3 on the season, and it should be a game that the Blue Devils win easily. Because of that it's a chance for Cutcliffe to continue to rest any first string players who have nagging injuries such as Oghobaase. It's also a chance to inject some new life into the offense and attempt some things that are a bit deeper into the offensive playbook.

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