Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Wade Report: Victory Bell, or another Saturday Hell?

In 1999, two young dudes traveled to Chapel Hill to see the 10th Airborne victory of their four-year college career. Optimism was high as UNC was suffering through a tough season filled with rumors that their head coach would soon be fired. Unfortunately, that 10th win did not happen, and the plucky young dudes graduated in the single digit win column. Sadly, had they returned for a Franchise-esque fifth year, they still wouldn’t have seen that 10th win. The Carl Franks era was not pretty.

Nine years later, the same two dudes were reunited, this time in Wally Wade, hoping to see Eron Riley and Michael Tauiliili ring the famed Victory Bell as they left Durham for the greener pastures of the NFL. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Things got off to an ominous start as parking goons forced me to leave my free (and legal) parking on Central to try to get me into their pay lots. I found street parking, but clearly everything would be a struggle on this cold, wet day.

Duke’s offense moved the ball well for much of the game, but struggled on third downs--three promising drives ended in field goal attempts. Defensively, Duke forced two turnovers and scored a TD, but too often gave up the third down conversion. While the Tar Heels converted on 80% of their third downs, Duke only converted on 20%. UNC made the plays, Duke did not.

In the fourth quarter, Duke had several chances to force what could have been an epic two-point conversion try, but found every drive stall. Dumb personal fouls hurt the cause, as did untimely turnovers. But ultimately the game came down to the final drive. Thad was let loose, and the team drove to the 16 before finally stalling. On 4th and 6, Thad was flushed out of the pocket and forced a throw, which was picked off by the Tar Heels. Travel, trip, championship. Or something like that.

I would like to salute a few seniors. To Joe Surgan, your name has been cursed many times in my home, but with two 50-yarders this year (including a 55-yarder Saturday), I hope you found some redemption. To Marcus Jones, three years ago, when you were named the new starting QB, I named my fantasy football team “The Marcus Jones Era?” One week later I changed it to Thad is Rad. But you made an impressive switch to defensive back, and for your flexibility and athleticism, I salute you. Eron, last year the bomb to you was our best play, and this season under a more disciplined offensive scheme, I missed it. You raised some big cash for the next president of the United States, and you provided me with more highlights over the last few years than any Blue Devil. And last, to Mr. Tauiliili, your 20 tackles Saturday was yet another impressive day at the stadium; Coach Cut said you are the best defensive player he has ever been around as a college coach, and called you the best in the ACC. I hope the Patriots draft you to replace all their old men in the middle.

But despite those sentiments, as I write this, the last “Wade Report” of the season, I find myself looking forward, not backwards. Sunday at noon, just hours after a 28-20 loss to UNC, the 2009 team met with Coach Cut. At 3:00, they ran. That’s the sort of no-nonsense approach we’ve come to expect from the new coach. Hopefully the hard work will be evident next year when I book my plane trip to the Orange Bowl.

The Dude Nearly Pulls Off Stunner in Mini-DudeBowling Showdown

In a three game show-down, things were not looking up for the Undude after the 1st 10 frames. He was in uncharted territory down nearly 30 pins to the Dude after the Dude rolled a turkey in the finals frames of the 1st game. After two games, the Dude maintained an 11 pin lead while as the Undude continued to struggle and leave open frames. It was, however, not to be for the Dude as the Undude rolled a spare-strike-spare-strike combo midway through the final game to cement a lead and avoid a nearly unthinkable upset for a mini-Kingpin title. Who knows what could have happened had the Dude decided not to ride the spinning ball for the 1st few frames of game 1?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Asack Line

On the bright side, Zach Asack completed 2/3 of his passes today. On the not-as-bright side, 4 of his 6 completions were to Virginia Tech cornerbacks. Wasn't he highly-touted when Duke signed him? The Hokies have a good defense, and the offensive gameplan probably didn't give him much chance, but he was given the opportunity to win the game in the last five minutes and made a terrible decision on a deep ball, which was exacerbated by the fact he underthrew it by about 5 yards. I guess it for now removes thoughts of a quarterback controversy heading into next year.
The defense played extremely well, and put the offense in good field position multiple times by creating 5 turnovers.
Perhaps UNC is vulnerable next week after what happened against State today, but otherwise the season certainly ends with a whimper.

Eh, Hartford?

Can't say I've focused too much on the women's team, but it doesn't appear I've missed much so far.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

11 of 13

While the Dude may have prematurely proclaimed a changing of the guard several weeks ago, the Mavericks showed Houston tonight once again that change does not come easily, winning without much of a challenge, 96-86. That makes it 11 Dallas wins in their last 13 tries against the Rockets. With both teams missing an All-Star and their second-leading scorers, everyone's favorite JET lit Houston up for 31.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Uh oh...

Is the Cutcliffe era of good feelings falling quickly on hard times? It's halftime in Clemson and the 17-0 score only tells part of the story. Duke is being outgained 268-39 and has 2 first downs to Clemson's 16. This against a team that has an identical record.

Let's hope things change in the second half. Otherwise a slide to a 4-8 record begins to approach in the rear-view mirror, and the 3-1 start is a distant memory.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ESPN - still trying to chase down Bullet Bob

Every year, ESPN tries to emulate Bullet Bob's groundbreaking expose in the Chronicle in 1999 into minority hiring in college football - every year, it fails to live up to Bullet Bob's journalistic excellence, nor the merits of the accompanying graphic. This year is no different. The story doesn't even have a graphic. Where is the journalistic talent at ESPN?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Heisman Time

All year long we've talked about Eron Riley for the Heisman, but ever since the Obama challenge ended, it's like he's had nothing to play for. Thad is quietly leading the ACC in passing yards, and some votes this year would help pave the way for the campaign next year. But my vote's going to Michael Tauiliili, the nation's fifth-leading tackler. I know the award rarely goes to defensive players, but is this not the year for political change? Poor Bob Harris has to say this name 11 times a game, and it's about time the nation learns it too.

So DudeSpiners, let's honor this senior (and Houston native), by casting your Heisman vote today!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New Duke Still Old Duke

But on the bright side, Barack Obama is still the President-Elect!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


President-Elect Barack Obama!



Monday, November 03, 2008

Cut-ting out early?

Following up on a previous post...
Phil Fulmer is out at Tennessee. Coach Cut will surely be mentioned as a potential replacement, and it seems impossible to imagine someone choosing Duke over Tenn.

Over at Wake, Jim Grobe has turned down some offers, but only after he had established ties to the Wake community. Coach Cut just got here, so it seems unlikely he's already fallen in love with Durham.

Fans, start sending the pleading emails...

One Day

With Head Dude probably in attendance, Barack Obama addresses a crowd in Cleveland with less than 48 hours left in the election. History beckons.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Woe in Winston

I'm sorry, dudes, but if we are claiming to be a blog devoted to Duke football, this game deserves more than one sentence of analysis. Plus, while I silently moped all of yesterday, I woke up this morning and still felt the need to talk about it some more.

While it's both easy and accurate to compare this game to 2006 (and had this blog existed back then, I might have set a record for longest post with the most expletives), this game was worth a lot more, potentially costing us the long-anticipated DudeMania: Idaho.

I'll start from the beginning... Each week in Wally Wade, Duke announces a special honorary coach of the week. This man is always a rich guy who has donated large sums of money to the Duke Football Improvement Plan at the Special Teams level. It seems that DudeSpin will have to reach into its deep pockets and contribute a little more, for special teams doomed us from the very start. (Corporate Dudes, I am not joking about this opportunity. Can't you picture us rewarded with a game ball and a day on the sidelines decked out in Duke polo and khakis? We could become a four-headed beast of a coach with complete access to Coach Cut’s left ear. Imagine on a 3rd and 5whispering, “double reverse flea flicker” and then watching Thad work his magic. But not only would we experience a thrill of a lifetime, we would be helping Duke football.)

-We fumbled the opening kickoff... Touchdown Wake.
-We had a punt blocked for a safety.
-On the ensuing kickoff, Wake returned it 57 yards to the Duke 30... FG Wake.
-After taking the lead 20-19, Duke attempted a surprise onside kick, which Johnny Williams recovered, but then was flagged for interference. (I can't begin to attempt to analyze this call as I was still watching a horribly slow, digitized, and audio-free production courtesy of ESPN360. I had to quit toward the end of the game and rely on Bob Harris.) Either way, it set up an easy Wake FG.
-We fumbled a punt... Touchdown Wake.
-And then, of course, the missed field goal at the end of regulation.

All total, not including the safety, on all of its scoring drives, Wake averaged a mere 20.5 yards per drive. They scored two field goals on drives in which they lost yardage. Meanwhile, Duke needed 62.4 yards per scoring drive.

Other tantalizing what-ifs:
-Riley was open on the final play, Thad just underthrew him. More zip, less lob, and we're posting pictures of potatoes today.
-On 3rd down in Wake's OT possession, Skinner avoided a sack, threw the ball off a Duke defender's hands, and it landed in the arms of a Wake receiver for the first down. Wake's back-up kicker has been shaky all year; I would have liked to see him attempt a long one in OT.
-Also, early in the 4th, Thad missed Riley on a sure touchdown. Eron was streaking down the left sideline, was wide open, had to slow down and wait for the throw and caught it falling backwards on the ten. Duke could only get a field goal out of the drive, but had Riley been hit in stride, it would have been a sure TD.

On the positive side, some perspective: I am upset that we now have to go 2-2 to reach a bowl. That's New Duke! (And 276 second half yards is nothing to sneeze at.)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I'm sure the Dude joins me in saying...



NC State now becomes a must-win