Aaron Schoonmaker

Duke balanced, efficient in win at Wake

Posted September 29, 2012

— Duke walked into Winston-Salem Saturday with a game plan and never strayed from it. The result was a well-balanced, highly-efficient, well-deserved, program win.

Duke (4-1, 1-0 ACC) controlled the time of possession – 33:08-26:52, had 40 pass attempts to 36 rushing attempts, and got 11 players involved with either a carry or reception. In doing so, they snapped a 12-game losing streak to Wake Forest, beating the Demon Deacons at BB&T Field, 34-27.

Sean Renfree, before departing in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury, went 22-for-28 passing for 204 yards. The stretch screen passes were countless, and created a sideline presence, but were also safe passes that allowed the receivers to do most of the work. Many of Renfree’s passes never traveled more than three yards downfield, but his yards per completion average on the day was 7.3.

Desmond Scott was the major beneficiary of the short passing game by Duke Saturday hauling in 11 passes for 134 yards. Conner Vernon – more on him in a minute – caught five for 62 earning him a special mark.

Backup quarterback Anthony Boone was forced into the game for the final four series’ for the Blue Devils and was equally as efficient - and one could argue more-so given the situation. Duke had to simply control a fourth quarter lead and Boone’s feet helped the clock roll to make that possible. His 4-yard touchdown proved to be the insurance score that the Devils needed in the end.

It’s not that Wake Forest played poorly, and anytime Wake Forest is close in the fourth quarter, you can expect a fight. Jim Grobe, in my opinion, is one of the best fourth quarter head coaches in the country.

Tanner Price was a mundane 19-for-38 and had two picks to go with two scores, but he was good when he needed to be. Trailing in the fourth quarter he used both his arm and feet to lead a touchdown drive and give the Demon Deacons a chance. Duke Logo More Duke Stories

Vernon makes history
Back to Vernon’s special day. He entered just five receptions shy of Aaron Kelly for the all-time career receptions mark in the ACC. On the final drive, on a quick hit to the left hash from Boone, he got the fifth reception of the day and 232nd of his career to tie Kelly’s mark.

Personal records are fun for fans anytime. As a player, you want to make those moments happen in games that you win and when those plays make an impact. Saturday, the whole receiving corps was workmanlike and Vernon can smile now with a share of the record.

Best part? He can take the record outright in front of the home fans next week against Virginia.

Special Teams importance
Wake Forest entered Saturday as one of only two teams in the nation without a field goal made. Midway through the second quarter, they got it – barely, but it counts. Jimmy Newman converted from 45 yards to bring the score to 13-10 before half. Newman added one late in the third quarter to tie the game at 20.

Duke’s special teams were equally up to the task. Freshman Ross Martin connected on all four extra points and a pair of field goals. Punter Will Monday pinned Wake Forest inside the 20 twice and averaged 45 yards on five punts.

Looking ahead
Duke is now 4-1 and has a suddenly important game next week against Virginia. Considering the Blue Devils’ schedule, there are surely two wins left – although it’s no guarantee.

Home games include Virginia, UNC, Clemson and Miami. Road games left are Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech.

If in fact this season does end with a bowl appearance for Duke, Saturday's win over Wake Forest can be considered a bowl-buster win that helps boost a program.

26 Comments

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  • Dudeanonymous Oct 2, 8:18 a.m.

    Cut has built some badly needed depth, and it's paying off. We have a lot of injuries and would have never finished this game in the past decade if it weren't for Cut's hard work.

    The UVA game is probably the most important game in 2 decades for Duke Football.

    JELA DUNCAN is going to be a stud at RB!

  • kmor2012 Oct 1, 9:43 a.m.

    Wow, the rest of Duke's schedule is brutal.

    — Posted by slayerhil

    its very tough.....another must win next week!!!

  • slayerhil Sep 30, 8:03 p.m.

    Wow, the rest of Duke's schedule is brutal.

  • flyingcheetah92 Sep 30, 2:37 p.m.

    ^Wake and UVa still have a better shot at 6 wins than Duke based on the unbalanced schedules.

    UVa... View More

    — Posted by 903 mens national championships

    I have to disagree with at least UVA. Wake has games against UVA, MD and BC all of which they will probably be favored in and expected to win to send them to a bowl game. UVA has games they could win against Duke, WF MD then the rest are State, UNC, Miami, and VT. They need to get 4 wins from those games and if one of those wins is against Wake then wake needs to find another game to win to make eligibility (likely vandy or State).

  • 903 mens national championships Sep 30, 2:31 p.m.

    ^Wake and UVa still have a better shot at 6 wins than Duke based on the unbalanced schedules.

    UVa doesn't play Clemson or FSU. Wake plays Clemson but not FSU.

  • flyingcheetah92 Sep 30, 2:09 p.m.

    A win over WFU was long overdue.

    Coach Cut and his team might very well be the only people who... View More

    — Posted by DurhamDevil

    Not just overdue, but crucial. With a loss, Duke's bowl hopes would have taken a major hit. ... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    I don't think that should really be a concern. Even if Duke does only scrape in at 6-6 UNC is... View More

    — Posted by flyingcheetah92

    Ken makes a valid point and one which must be considered. "How you travel" is not to... View More

    — Posted by BenFranklin

    The ACC has ties with 8 different bowls. Remember UNC isn't eligible, and Miami may not be either (or may opt out again like last year). I have a hard time seeing MD or BC getting to 6 wins and I imagine that between WF and UVA one of them will fail to make 6 wins as well. That would mean that Duke would be guaranteed a bowl game. In short, if Duke or any other ACC gets 6 wins they're going to make a bowl game.

  • BenFranklin Sep 30, 1:14 p.m.

    A win over WFU was long overdue.

    Coach Cut and his team might very well be the only people who... View More

    — Posted by DurhamDevil

    Not just overdue, but crucial. With a loss, Duke's bowl hopes would have taken a major hit. ... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    I don't think that should really be a concern. Even if Duke does only scrape in at 6-6 UNC is... View More

    — Posted by flyingcheetah92

    Ken makes a valid point and one which must be considered. "How you travel" is not to be taken lightly when it comes to bowl entries. Duke's fan base/alums is quite spread out across the nation. They rarely have as many as 20K at any game unless it's state or unc as the opponent.

  • uncsuckz Sep 30, 1:07 p.m.

    I'm shocked! But hey, a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.

    — Posted by 1969inyourface

    Duke "did" what your cheating team couldn't.

  • PanthersFan45 Sep 30, 12:33 p.m.

    I will admit that Duke is off to an impressive start .... though, if you finish 6-5 with at least one "qualit"y win, it seems like that's enough to get you in a bowel game. At 4-1 with an opening conference victory, this should give the Devils a lot of confidence.

  • hokies94vt@gmail.com Sep 30, 10:49 a.m.

    Duke has a solid shot at obtaining a Bowl this season. Renfree looked really impressive until his injury. His back-up did the job too. I thought that the defense looked better than I've seen in years.

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