Saturday, November 08, 2008

New Duke Still Old Duke

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


Head Dude said...

It's a bit undude to have started this post with half the fourth quarter left, but yes, I suppose bowl talk may have been a bit premature.

Big Daddy said...

This is clearly the curse of Obama. It's a message to Dudespin that taking his picture down was a bit premature (and the pic on the side was too little too late)

Oh a brighter note it was nice spending time with the best darn sportswriter the Chronicle has ever produced. (in my humble opinion of course)

The Franchise said...

No doubt, but it's not like there was as much competition for that title as there was for, say, best Chronicle pro wrestling writer, a title bitterly contested between Grizzly and me.

1 of the only 2 good Chronicle sportswriters said...

I promised Undude that in thanks for the ticket, I would attempt to provide the summary. I cannot hope to come close to matching his artfulness in memorializing a Duke game, but here goes...

It was a perfect fall Saturday for football. Warm weather, and the trees beyond the far end zone in Wally Wade were stunning shades of crimson and gold. The company was royalty: Big Daddy and 2.5 members of Undude's family. Alas, it would prove to be a nostalgic afternoon, hearkening back to the Old Duke days of my college experience.

I arrived with Duke trailing 3-0 midway through the first quarter but driving. Cut's Crusaders reached first-and-goal at the 8, only to proceed to go backward. They settled for a field goal, then State returned the ensuing kickoff for a TD. So instead of leading 7-3, Duke's down 10-3.

It was a sign of near-misses and wrenching turnarounds to come.

The resonating image of the day was Duke almost sacking the State QB, who instead would launch a jump ball that the Duke DB would fail to turn around for, and the State WR would make an off-balance catch. By my count, this happened about 17 times over the course of the game.

At one point in the first half, I turned to Big Daddy and said, "Is it just me, or have we not thrown the ball downfield once?" Sadly, it wasn't just me. One of the many Old Duke-isms yesterday was the perpetual swing pass far short of the first-down marker on third down.

Though that was starting to look good compared with some of the goal-line play-calling.

Still down 10-3 in the second quarter, Duke went for it on fourth-and-1 from the State 10 and proved for the first of many times that its power running game was no match for the mighty State defense. State proceeded to go on a 90-yard TD drive.

The two teams traded TDs to end the half. Meanwhile, Big Daddy and I were starting to realize that the ominous bell-tolling audio played over the Wally Wade loudspeakers before every State third down was actually far more foreboding for the fans in blue than those in red.

In the span of a few seconds midway through the third quarter, we witnessed Duke's fate being sealed no matter if the scoreboard showed it still to be a game. When Riley caught a long pass from Thad and looked as though he would score, then was tackled at the 3, you just had a bad feeling it would not end well. After a 2-yard gain to the 1, Duke went to its aforementioned power running game on the next two plays, and, well, there's no need to mention what happened next.

Cut went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and, this time, tried a play that might've worked great on second or third down. Instead, Thad nearly tripped before he could even attempt a pass, and his rushed heave was nowhere near the open receiver.

But there was still hope! State was pinned at its 1, and on its very first play, the pass attempt was tipped into the air. The play happened right in front of our seats, and the ball seemed to hang up there tantalizingly for about 6 minutes. A Duke defender dived for it in the end zone, and for a brief glorious moment had the ball in his grasp. But then he crashed to the turf and out squirted the ball and Duke's hopes for victory.

The next play, State rushed for 53 yards.

There were meaningful moments after that, including some questionable decisions by Cut to go for it on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal that might've made it a game at the end. We witnessed the all-too-familiar sight of Duke fans streaming for the exits, while the large contingent of State fans stayed and celebrated.

So I apologize for apparently bringing Old Duke back with me. If only Duke's play could have equaled the quality of the company I was fortunate enough to witness the game with.

Big Daddy said...

Indeed you have lived up to both your title and expectations.

ThadisRad said...

Well said... Here are a few additional notes:

1) NCSU went into the game aware that they could take advantage of Duke on jumpballs. They noticed our inability to turn around when the ball is in the air. "They were just running and looking at the wide receiver and not attacking the ball," Williams said of Duke's defensive backs. "They let you catch the ball. They just try to make a play after you catch the ball."

2) Duke is now 0-9 on coin flips to open the game this year. The odds of that happening? 1-in-512. That's Old Duke!

3) Duke debuted its own version of the Wildcat, at one point lining up Asack behind center with Thad as a wideout on the right. I look forward to future chicanery.

4) One fan began a "We want Asack chant," but the masses knew not to get on board with that nonsense.

5) And I would have labeled this post: Ida-no