Saturday, September 27, 2008
With USC out of the picture...
At the end of the game the PA announced the start of the Blue Devils’ ACC winning streak to the delight of the loyal faithful who had remained. For the second time this year, tons of fans filed out of Wally Wade early because Duke was UP by so much. Yes, there is much to love about New Duke.
When we looked at the schedule, we knew that these first four games were potentially winnable. And while Head Dude will argue that Roof’s Rough Rider’s would be 3-1, I don’t think we can be anything but thrilled about how this team is playing. Georgia Tech will certainly be a much better test to see where this team really is, but right now, I can’t help but feel a new day truly has dawned.
The defense was not great to open the game, playing an Old Duke bend, don’t break defense. Uva drove down the field on its first drive before self-destructing with consecutive penalties, and during the first quarter they ran with relative ease. But as the game progressed, the defense really stepped up. Down 3-0, Duke pinned Uva on the 1, and stopped them for no gain on three straight running plays. That set up the field goal to tie the game at the half (by the way, on the play before, Thad had Riley wide open for an easy score but threw behind him).
The second half was more of the same, with the added plus of turnovers. Al Groh and John McCain had tough afternoons as six Cavalier turnovers doomed Virginia and bolstered Obama’s campaign donations.
At halftime Big Daddy and I noted that the 3rd quarter has been our quarter. We raised three fingers in the air and realized we were making the Ricky Price salute. Coincidence? I doubt it. But this team continues to get the job done in the 3rd quarter. If I were less lazy, I’m sure I could prove to you with startling statistics how many games in the past got away from Duke in 3rd quarters—but this year we explode for two touchdown leads. We're currently outscoring opponents 76-17 in the second half this year!
I really don’t have much profound commentary to this game. The offense was completely out of sync in the first half, but good defense and Uva miscues kept us in the game. Then in the second the offense started to click more (they turned to more quick passing routes and screens to make up for the fact that they could not protect the QB), and the turnovers just blew the game wide open. Here are some extra notes...
-Coach Cut mentioned this in his postgame, but it is a very good sign to win a game like this when your QB really wasn't sharp, and the offense never fully clicked. Oh, and Jay Hollingsworth at times added a nice spark in the running game. In addition to his TD, he had one 10-yard run where two different times he was swarmed and assumed down, but kept on going. Coach C. said that in a year or two, he's going to be something special. Do I dare dream of a Heisman Hat Trick of Riley, then Lewis, then Hollingsworth?
-For our weekly Crazy Sweaty Guy report, here he is politely yelling at some Virginia fans to relocate:
- Saturday Duke will be on the U (national television) for the third straight game. We made the main page of espn.com, and our highlight reel is up there too. You can almost hear the recruits coming in thanks to the extra exposure.
- To get myself fired up, before the game I watched last weekend’s edition of David Cutcliffe’s TV show. The highlight was Eron and Thad watching and discussing all 17 of their career TDs. Eron joked that they could have more if Thad hadn’t missed him with some thrown in the dirt. But during the show Cut said that last week Eron Riley earned a helmet sticker on College Gameday—Cut said he had just sent them a helmet because he knew they would need one soon.
- While crossing the quad after the game, a coed asked someone, “Did we win?” clearly unaware of the excitement that had transpired. That was an Old Duke attitude, but hopefully things are changing. (Note: For it to truly be Old Duke, the girl would have asked, “Did we lose?” or worse, “Was there a football game today?”)
- At the game were two representatives to the Orange Bowl. I think they saw about all they needed to see today. Gentlemen, we’ll see you in January!
- And, last, but not least, the money shot: