Sunday, September 07, 2008

I hope you're seated, Duke's undefeated!

At least that's what I was going to title this post before the comeback fell just short.

As I dejectedly walked through campus last night, I realized this was a feeling I was all too used to. After the hope and excitement generated by last week’s win, the old Duke football reared its ugly head and stopped by to say hello.

Last week I was online before 8 am composing this report, this week it has been a huge burden hanging over my sad, little head. A classic Duke loss where you can point to so many near misses and “what ifs.”

You all saw the game, so I will not provide a recap, but merely once again give you the perspective from inside Wally Wade’s pearly gates…

· Before kickoff, the quads were full of drunk students. Last week I was thrilled by the student turnout, but this week I remembered, “Ya know, I don’t really like Duke students.” But that said, the student section was again packed, though the rest of the stadium was significantly less crowded than last week. I’ll be curious to see what happens next week. A tough loss, coupled with the Saturday at noon kickoff could be detrimental to the crowd. Still, Wally Wade has never been more fun, so hopefully students will still see it as an event worth checking out.
· In the first half there was a noticeable difference in sharpness from the week before. Duke was forced to call a timeout before the first snap, had a too many men on the field penalty, a risky non fair catch, and someone stole Kevin Jones’ bionic leg and replaced it with his old one. Fewer silly mistakes in the second half, so that’s encouraging.
· The play of the game was the muffed snap that set up an easy Northwestern score.
· Thad’s leaping touchdown run led to a fan eruption, and while I thought he played okay, his accuracy needs to improve. He overthrew too many open receivers. One key difference: While Duke had three touchdown passes just off the fingertips, Northwestern’s only lengthy pass play was an absolutely perfectly thrown ball to hit his receiver (who only had a step) in stride. Not to mention our tough missed 4th-and-5 to end comeback attempt, Part 1.
· Northwestern converted several key third-and-longs. On the game-winning drive they had two third-and-10s, and one other time they converted a 3rd-and-12 while pushed up against its own goalline.
· We didn’t get a replay, so I have to ask, did Ringfield really fumble, or was he down first?
· Another key play that upset the fans: A tough pass interference call that the fans clearly though should go against NU, but was instead called offensive pass interference against Duke. I can’t remember the time or the players involved, I just remember being upset.
· You know I back Thad, but Asack looked great.
· Although at times predictable, we’re still doing nice things with that quick wide receiver screen. Sometimes Thad gets over excited, but it’s becoming a fairly reliable five yards.
· The running game continues to impress me.
· My favorite play other than Thad’s run? The fake field goal punt. This is a family site so I can’t tell you everything I was thinking when I thought Cut was attempting a 50-yard field goal, but the play worked beautifully, pinning the Wildcats deep in their territory.
· Welcome to the Johnny Williams era. Though man I wish he hadn’t slipped after getting past that last tackler. A classic Duke so-close play.


The Dude said...

johnny williams is going to take the mantle from eron riley next season; ringfield did fumble; and the pass interference call was absolutely correct (in my view) - both men are entitled to the ball, the duke receiver pulled down the northwestern db while the ball was in flight.

Head Dude said...

Though i might add that Bob Harris was similarly outraged by the pass interference -- not that that means it was a bad call.
Among many fine observations, Undude's overall theme is perhaps most thought-provoking: though you can see some things you definitely like more, are the big mistakes we made no different from those the Rough Riders, not to mention Airborne, also made? That may not be a fair characterization, but outside of the fan enthusiasm, yesterday's loss unfortunately was no different than what we would've seen last year...the missed deep balls, the receiver breaking coverage and getting tackled by the turf, the botched snap, etc. The fact is, and Cut has said this himself, we have to judge this team in October and November -- they still start the season 3-1 or at least 2-2, and that's something they would've done with Roof. The question is how do they start to perform against the ACC.

Big Daddy said...

I actually did not see the game nor am I a "member" of the Herald Sun but nevertheless I appreciate the report/post. You get so much more of the flavor than the contantly updating "livestats" found of the page.

Could someone tell me if the holding penalty that nullified the last touchdown was a "necessary" one (i.e. Thad would have gotten destroyed and never even have had the opportunity to complete the pass if not for the hold) or was this another heartbreaking "duke" play?

Thanks again Undude for the report, I look forward to a more joyful report next week as we rebound from such a tough loss.

Anonymous said...

I think the holding was "necessary" as the rusher would have probably gotten to Thad to disrupt the pass from what I saw on accselect.

Head Dude said...

I couldn't tell if the holding was necessary. They didn't show a replay of the hold, and Thad was rolling right at the time, so there's a chance the hold freed him, but also a chance he was loose outside the pocket and would've gotten the throw off comfortably anyway. I should add that on the play before the hold, Thad had a receiver wide open inside the 5 but overthrew him.

Big Daddy said...

Thanks both to anonymous and head dude. So it's WAY to early talk about this but might we have a QB controversy on our hands? I don't want to go knee-jerk after a loss but Thad missed some gimmie throws in the first game too, and apparently from what Undude said Zach looked really good. I'm still a Thad man myself...

ThadisRad said...

Thad rolled right because he was being pressured by the player that was held. It's frustrating to lose a TD, but I would say the hold was a part of the play, and not isolated somewhere far from the play.

Though it was the only holding call of the game, which kind of sucks.