Last Saturday in Durham, kicker Matt Brooks booted a 53-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Blue Devils to a 16-13 win over Clemson. Cornerback Deonto McCormick's interception with 1:07 remaining set up the game winning kick. Clemson, which had won four straight entering the contest, was held to just 250 yards of total offense and one third down conversion in twelve tries.
Last year in Chapel Hill, Duke darted out to a 23-0 halftime lead and held on for a 30-22 victory, snapping a 14-game losing skid to the Tar Heels. The Blue Devils rolled up 425 yards of offense while controlling the ball for almost 40 minutes.
This season, retaining possession of "The Bell" and ending UNC's resurgence on a sour note is not all that is up for grabs. A win over the Tar Heels, coupled with Wake Forest losses at Miami and at Maryland, would once again – just like last year – lift Duke out of the league cellar as the season comes to an end.
But despite their upset of the Tigers, it has been another season of frustration for the Blue Devils. What their defense takes away, the offense is inclined to give back. Duke leads the ACC with 15 interceptions to go with 10 fumble recoveries, yet is ranked sixth in turnover margin (+3).
Ted Roof (Ga. Tech '87) is in his first full season a head coach after compiling a 2-3 record as the interim coach in 2003, following the firing of Carl Franks. Since 1982, as a player and assistant with the Yellow Jackets and assistant and head coach of the Blue Devils, Roof has compiled a 6-8 record against Carolina. Less than a month shy of his 41st birthday, Roof is the tenth-youngest active NCAA coach in Division I-A.
Click here to read Ted Roof's press conference quotes.
With the strongest arm among the Duke signal callers, Mike Schneider (#7, 6-2, 215, So.) has gone most of the way this season, completing 131 of 219 passes for 1,346 yards. He's thrown eight touchdowns against six interceptions. His 118.02 efficiency rating is only sixth-best in the ACC, but much higher than that of backup Chris Dapolito (#9, 6-2, 215, Sr.), who threw for 81 yards and rushed for 42 more in last year's win at UNC.
Duke has utilized 18 different receivers including unlikely targets in Schneider and center Matt Rumsey. Jomar Wright (#81, 6-1, 180, Fr.) is averaging a team-high 18.8 yards per reception with 17 grabs for 329 yards. Three of his four catches against the Tigers and 12 of his 17 on the season have been for first downs. Ronnie Elliott (#28, 5-10, 185, Jr.) is Duke's leading wide receiver with 25 catches for 284 yards and a touchdown. Corey Thompson (#1, 6-2, 180, Fr.) and Chancellor Young (#2, 6-2, 210, Fr.) are also contributors to Duke's tight-end based passing scheme.
He's listed as a fullback, but Andy Roland (#89, 6-4, 235, Jr.) is functionally a tight end. Led by his two-touchdown performance against The Citadel, Duke's tight ends have caught six of the team's nine scoring passes this season. Roland has three, Calen Powell (#87, 6-5, 255, Sr.) has two and Ben Patrick (#83, 6-4, 260, So.) has one. Patrick leads the team in receiving with 297 yards. The trio has combined for 51 receptions for 528 yards.
Tackle Christian Mitchell (#65, 6-7, 325, Sr.) has 36 starts to his credit – tops among the offensive linemen. He is joined by center Dan Mooney (#78, 6-4, 300, Jr.), guard Tyler Kreig (#66, 6-4, 300, So.) and tackle Jim Moravchik (#79, 6-6, 305, Jr.) in starting all 10 games this season. Guards Chris Best (#73, 6-5, 305, Jr.) and Bob Benion (#67, 6-3, 285, So.) have also started at least one game this year.
Leading last week's defensive charge was Brendan Dewan (#30, 6-1, 205, Jr.) who racked up a career-high 15 tackles, including two for a loss and a sack. Dewan and Malcolm Ruff (#22, 6-0, 250, Jr.) each began their collegiate careers as running backs. With 27.0 career tackles for loss, Giuseppe Aguanno (#13, 6-1, 240, Sr.) is closing in on a school-record. He leads the team in total tackles this year with 82.
With 18 career field-goals, Matt Brooks (#26, 6-0, 190, Sr.) now ranks ninth on Duke's career list. His game-winner of 53 yards last week is tied for sixth-best in school history. Punter Trey McDonald (#18, 6-2, 210, Sr.) ranks ninth in the ACC with a 39.7 yards per punt average. Chris Davis (#27, 6-0, 175, Fr.), a reserve safety, handles the majority of the kick and punt return duties. He's ranked second in the conference with a 27.9 yards per return average of kickoffs, which includes a 94-yarder he returned for a touchdown against Maryland.