Duke will have hands full against Ga. Tech
Posted September 13, 2013
Updated September 16, 2013
While much of the focus leading up to Duke's Saturday afternoon matchup with Georgia Tech has been on the option attack of the Yellow Jackets, the Blue Devils' ability to replace starting quarterback Anthony Boone could end up being the key to the game, according to former ECU and NFL coach Steve Logan.
Boone, who suffered a broken collarbone early in Duke's 28-14 win over Memphis on Sept. 7, is out indefinitely, leaving the position in the hands of Brandon Connette.
The junior was able to perform well in the win over the Tigers, but Logan said Connette's performance – and ability to stay healthy – will be at the forefront of head coach David Cutcliffe's mind for the rest of the season.
"When I saw that Boone got hurt, my coaching brain kicked in and started spinning," Logan said. "Coach Cutcliffe is a proven quarterbacks coach, so he shifted gears mid-stream and won the football game. But he knows he has to have a plan for what happens if Connette gets injured. You're now one rolled ankle away from playing a freshman nobody has ever heard of."
That freshman is Parker Boehme, and he's been thrust into the backup role after coming into the regular season as a third-string player likely to redshirt.
"You went from a position of strength with Boone and Connette to one of a little uncertainty," Logan said. "Everyone has moved up one chair now."
As for stopping quarterback Vad Lee, a Durham native, and the Georgia Tech offense, Logan said the Blue Devils will need to rely more on speed than strength.
"What you really relish against the spread is team speed. You have to get numbers to the football," Logan said. "The numbers game with the wishbone attack puts the offense at an advantage. It creates a different arithmetic, so to speak."
Pirates likely to struggle against Virginia Tech
Prior to Duke's 3:30 p.m. showdown with Georgia Tech, East Carolina will have a chance to get a big win when they host Virginia Tech at noon in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The Pirates are 2-0 and haven't played since Sept. 5, when they downed Florida Atlantic 31-13 in Greenville. Logan said the Hokies will more than likely disrupt the offensive rhythm the Pirates have used to start the season undefeated.
"Last year when I watched Virginia Tech play at North Carolina, they didn't look like a Virginia Tech team I've ever seen. They were poor tacklers, and the defense didn't have Bud Foster's fingerprint on it," Logan said. "When I turned on Alabama-Virginia Tech a couple of weeks ago, Bud Foster had jerked a knot in those kids that a boy scout couldn't untie. They were playing like their hair was on fire, and it was the defense I was used to seeing."
In order for the Pirates to move to 3-0, quarterback Shane Carden and his receivers will have to make plays downfield, Logan said.
"The ECU offense is designed to feast on zone coverage, and they won't see a lot of that against Virginia Tech," he said. "ECU has to generate some explosion plays. But I'm thinking the Virginia Tech defense is going to give ECU tremendous problems this weekend."
NC State, UNC likely handling open dates differently
Despite the fact that North Carolina and North Carolina State are enjoying open dates in the third week of the college football season, there has been plenty of work going on in Chapel Hill and Raleigh during the last several days, Logan said.
Because of very different team situations, however, the Tar Heels and Wolfpack have likely spent much of their "bye" weeks working on very different things.
"Of the three area schools, North Carolina's needle is the one pointing up the most. They played better against Middle Tennessee State. They had more people around the football and they tackled better," Logan said.
With a Sept. 21 trip to Georgia Tech fast approaching, Logan said the Tar Heels probably utilized the extra days of practice to get ready for the Yellow Jackets. A season ago, UNC lost to Georgia Tech despite scoring 50 points. The Yellow Jackets racked up 588 yards in Kenan Stadium and allowed an ACC-record 68 points.
"Any time that wishbone was on my schedule, we took a week in spring ball and another week in fall camp to prepare. I have to believe UNC's coaches have done things like that," Logan said. "Last year, it was ridiculous."
For the Wolfpack, who narrowly escaped a loss to FCS power Richmond in week two of the season, the bye week will likely act like a second fall camp period, Logan said.
"NC State had a quarterback issue, and they are still having to settle that. If I'm having a staff meeting, I'm telling my coaches that we have to coach North Carolina State and not worry so much about Clemson," Logan said.
Once the No. 3-ranked Tigers do arrive in Raleigh for Thursday night's Textile Bowl, Logan said Dave Doeren and his coaching staff will have to be ready to use both Pete Thomas and Bryant Sheriffs at the quarterback spot despite the fact that it makes the Wolfpack offense more predictable.
"Any time you have a quarterback situation where one is a better runner and one is a better thrower, it is what it is," he said. "There's no way out. You deal with it."