Talking Points: Not the same old Duke
Posted November 10, 2013
1. In 2008, it was legally established that Duke represented the bottom rung of college football. The Blue Devils won a breach of contract dispute with Louisville when their lawyers argued that the phrase “any and all college varsity teams" meant that Duke would not have to buy out the remaining games of the scheduled series if the Cardinals replaced the dates with a team of "similar stature" to Duke -- in other words, a bad team.
"...the Court can absolutely positively take judicial notice that Duke is probably the worst football team in Division I football. Everybody knows that. That’s no secret. The longest losing streak, the inability to ever win games...We certainly don’t have to go out and take six months of discovery to establish that for you."
No reasonable party could have disputed that argument five years ago. In 2013, however, no reasonable party could dispute that head coach David Cutcliffe has earned the claim of ACC coach of the year.
The Blue Devils moved to 7-2 after defeating NC State 38-20, establishing a winning season for the first time since 1994. Unlike last season, when Duke got caught up in simply becoming bowl eligible, this team remains hungry for more. And why not? The Blue Devils are in the thick of it in the Coastal Division.
How Duke got to this point has been impressive. It's a resilient group, from scoring 35 unanswered at Virginia to answering NC State's big plays with a few of their own. These Blue Devils do not have a glass jaw and enter next week's Coastal showdown against Miami with incredible confidence.
2. Duke's DeVon Edwards single-handedly changed the tenor of Saturday's snoozer at Wallace Wade.
Following a 10-point swing in the third quarter, Edwards put Duke back in the lead with a 100-yard kickoff return. His touchdown matched the second longest in school history.
Edwards then iced NC State with back-to-back pick-sixes late in the fourth quarter. He snagged Brandon Mitchell's pass and returned 25-yards to give Duke a 31-20 lead with 3:21 left in the game. Edwards then intercepted Pete Thomas and took it to the end zone for what would be the final score of the game.
After the game, Edwards was just happy Duke came away victorious. When informed he might see highlights of his night looped on ESPN, Edwards humbly cracked, "you think so?"
3. Put that coffee down, NC State. Coffee is for teams that muster more that just a field goal out of four turnovers only.
In consecutive weeks against in-state opponents, the Wolfpack have blown multiple opportunities to grab momentum away because of poor execution, curious play-calling, penalties or straight up bad luck. NC State can't seem to do anything right, including field goals (Sade clanged one off the uprights) and kickoffs (they called a timeout).
The Wolfpack's red zone woes continued, turning two trips into six points. NC State has produced only 10 touchdowns in 28 appearances inside the 20-yard line. Quarterbacks Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas rotated drives, but neither one could stay consistent or accurate. Mitchell did throw his first touchdown pass of the season, which bumped NC State's total through the air to five.
4. Remember when North Carolina was embarrassed by East Carolina in Chapel Hill? The Tar Heels were 1-4, defensive coordinator Vic Koennig sounded like a defeated man at wits' end and fans proclaimed the honeymoon with head coach Larry Fedora was over.
Remember when North Carolina lost in gut-wrenching fashion to Miami on a nationally televised Thursday night match-up? The Tar Heels dropped to 1-5 and many wondered if they had to confidence to bounce back.
North Carolina has reeled off wins against Boston College, NC State and now Virginia. Credit goes to Fedora and the players for not throwing in the towel, but the Tar Heels aren't out of the woods yet. They'll need to win two out of their next three games against Pittsburgh, Old Dominion and Duke if they want to make back-to-back bowl appearances.
5. North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams had a solid outing in his first start following Bryn Renner's season ending shoulder injury. He threw 185 yards and two touchdowns. Williams added 45 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.
Where Williams impressed the most won't be found in a highlight or the box score. The junior wore No. 2 on his jersey as a tribute to Renner.