Sunday, September 27, 2009

49-14!


A few years ago I reconnected with old chum Big Daddy, and he became a faithful companion through the dizzying highs and terrifying lows of Duke Football. He was always loyal (even returning when racist ticket takers tried to keep him away), and best of all, he understood obscure references to Boomer Morton, Bobby Campbell, and every other figure fortunate enough to call himself a player under the Fred Goldsmith era. But after the Richmond game, Big Daddy became distraught and vowed to move as far away as possible, going so far as to apply for a job in Kuwait. He settled in Arizona last week, and it’s to him that I dedicate this post-game report. Big Daddy, you left a week too soon…

- The Richmond game began with several ominous signs, but last night things were different. As I was driving in, I passed an RV tailgating with two banners. One was a big, blue Duke banner, and the other was a military banner for 82nd Airborne. A very good sign, indeed.
- Central won the toss and chose to defer, giving us the ball. Big mistake. Thad was Rad, leading the Blue Devils to touchdowns on three straight possessions. Lewis looked much more accurate than he has all season, finishing 17-of-25 with 2 TDs and a rushing TD. Good numbers, especially considering the miserable weather conditions and that he sat for a huge chunk of the game. In the post game with Bob Harris, Coach Cut said, “Thad, for the first time, looked like Thad.”
- In Duke’s fourth possession, Thad got hit and Renfree came in. It was the first time I saw this young kid play, and I apologize for ever questioning Thad. The pick he threw that was returned for a touchdown was a horrible throw. He recovered, but there’s no question in my mind that the team moved the ball much better with Thad in the lineup.
- But the real story offensively was the running game. As you know, they have not moved the ball well at all on the ground, but despite injuries to their top two guys, the Blue Devils ran for over 200 yards. The line did a great job creating holes and protecting the QB. Maybe we are in the wrong division… True freshman Desmond Scott was especially impressive, and I liked his quickness and decision-making with the ball. He’s from Durham’s Hillside High on Fayetteville Rd., the very same street that Central calls home.
- Down 14-0 early in the first, the Central cheerleaders walked over to the Duke side and began cheering with the Blue Devil cheerleaders. Was this some sort of symbolic gesture emphasizing Durham unity, or were they jumping ship?
- Favorite play of the game… In the third quarter, on a 3rd-and-12 from its own seven, Cut channeled his inner Goldsmith and called a draw. But it worked for a 25-yard burst!
- Inappropriate text received during the game: “We rape their football team like we rape their strippers.”
- Two odd moments as a fan… In the third quarter Duke scored a TD and I wasn’t even compelled to stand up. Ahhh, taking scores for granted, what a feeling! Then late in the third, I actually asked, “Is this the first time we’ve punted tonight?” I was wrong, but still a nice thing to think.
- It was homecoming, so I attended the game with my old friend “Chain Smoking Journey Hater,” one of The Dude’s biggest rivals in college. CSJH expressed huge regret that “The Ricky Time Guy” was not in attendance, ruining what he felt should be a homecoming tradition.
- A friend of friend was also in attendance, and he didn’t know anything about Duke Football. This was most evident when we went for it on a 4th-and-4 from the Central 26 and he earnestly said, “They don’t have a lot of confidence in their kicking game.”
- The City of Durham tried really hard to promote this game and start a new tradition. On Thursday the old Bulls’ park hosted a pep rally featuring coaches, players, performance groups from both schools, the mayor, bands, kid games, and free food. I couldn’t attend, but I admire the effort.
- As I mentioned, the weather was terrible. There was a steady rain throughout, and it was really pouring down in the end. As a result, the stadium really cleared out by midway through the fourth. But seriously, if you’re a Duke fan, how could you leave that? I mean, trust me, it doesn’t get any better (though I was sad we fell short of 50)! I most likely caught pneumonia, but it was totally worth it.
- Final Thought: Next week is an afternoon game, so could very well be my daughter’s first Duke football game. But do I want to initiate her in a game against Virginia Tech? I mean, if a goalpost-going-down upset over a top-10 team is her very first game, won’t it be setting the excitement bar a little too high?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Better Plan for Thad and Sean, Jayhawks...

I'm sure most of you already saw this, but the Charlotte Observer is reporting that while Thad Lewis will be under center to start the game tomorrow, the Blue Devils will play Lewis and Sean Renfree during today's game against Kansas. That comes straight from Coach Cutcliffe, though it may just be to avoid either guy getting too beat up by a defense that has nine sacks in its first two games.

An interesting footnote to this game that I did not know: Duke was the only other school to offer a scholarship to small but mighty Kansas QB Todd Ressing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's Thad!

Coach Cut said Sunday that Thad is still rad to him and will start Saturday against Kansas. Cut said he thought Thad's been out of rhythm, perhaps because of limited practice time. Thad was one of the Blue Devils infected with Swine Flu, then came up with an ankle injury. Renfree took twice as many snaps this summer/fall.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Romine vs. Campbell, Part III

Three years after his first QB controversy, when he took down the self-described Tom Brady of Duke, Thad Lewis finds himself with a new challenger, Sean Renfree. After the game, Cut would not comment further about his QB plans, though he did refer to Renfree as the backup. According to the Herald-Sun, Cut had wanted to give Renfree some snaps last week, but it didn't work out, so he was extra-determined to make it work this time. He said he would have brought Thad back in, but didn't want to mess up "a hot hand." He implied that he wouldn't have put Renfree in had they been backed up on the field, but by the 4th quarter that sentiment had clearly changed, as Renfree took the field with the ball on the Duke 10during the (I think) second-to-last possession.

So where do we stand now? That Richmond loss really crushed my spirit, because in these situations I always support the experienced starter, but yesterday right after the game I was ready to dump Thad and was busy thinking up new nicknames. The Dude talked me back into Thad's experience, and I can't argue with what he's saying. I guess you also have to decide how much success you can have this year. If you think this is still a bowl season, do you want a freshman making his first start on the road against a ranked team? Probably not. But if you're looking to the future, Renfree was a huge get for the program, is almost certainly the future starter for several years, so you might want him to start learning on the job.

I have never, ever supported any coach who wants to play two quarterbacks, but I'm starting to think that's the way to go. Get both guys out there, see who's looking good, and go from there. Of course, I've only listened to Renfree play for two quarters, so what do I know? Clearly I'm just giddy over a big win.

Oh, and according to Renfree, Thad was doing his best Drew Bledsoe, supporting and cheering his potential replacement all afternoon. "He says he's a cheerleader, but he's a leader," Renfree said. "You'd expect any other quarterback to just kind of hang his head, but Thad was the opposite.... He was coming over to me all the time, saying, 'Hey, you're doing great. Keep doing what you're doing. I'm here for you.' "

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Duke Army LiveBlog

As Undude said, it's a game pitting a school full of rich snobs against a school full of kids willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country - a game in which the fates will surely smile down upon Duke. Liveblog in the comments.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Bedtime Story for the Young Dudes...

In honor of the next generation of dudes, I present a bedtime story…

Once upon a time in a fantastical, far-away land called Durham, over 33,000 people clad in blue gathered to pay respect to their King, Wallace Wade I. They sang, they danced, and they ate slaughtered pig in anticipation of a joyous evening.

But a swarm of large, red spiders marched into Durham ready to attack. At first, the good people of Durham did not worry too much. These spiders were from Dimension Two, a notoriously weaker dimension, and posed no threat. Besides, the people of Durham reasoned, they were protected by a mighty pack of blue devils and a fearless duke.

But these spiders should not have been taken so lightly.

They first used their magic powers to put a hex on all the legs of the blue devils. The hex worked so well that kicked balls would fly directly against the hands of charging spiders; those balls that did pass by untouched simply could not sail straight. The leg hex also made it impossible for any blue devil to run for more than three yards at a time.

As panic set in among the people of Durham, they turned to the brave knight Thaddeus, and his Lancelot, Johnny. This duo fought bravely and single-handedly destroyed many a spider. Johnny was so strong, in fact, he reminded the people of Lord Eron, a noble fighter who left Durham last year.

With 9:09 left in the first half of the war, No. 9 teamed up with Johnny and gave the blue devils their 9th point, and the stars seemed to be aligning in favor of our heroes.

But soon the spider voodoo magic worked against the two brave knights. The spiders confused Thaddeus’ mind, making him and Prince Cut believe the object of the game was to throw from side to side, and not down the field. Spider Magic clouded Johnny’s judgment, and he spiked a ball, needlessly negating a large gain on a key charge.

And when the spiders had killed off the last of the blue devils, they charged the innocent people of Durham. With piercing bites, the spiders sucked the joy out of the people’s lives, crushing their hopes and dreams, and leaving their hollow corpses to endure this type of cruelty 11 more times.

The moral of the story, young readers, is that being a Duke Football fan sucks. It's best you learn that now.

A few stray comments…

- Although 99% of the packed crowd left half way through the 4th quarter, the big fat guy in front of me stayed the entire game to keep me cramped in.

- Ill-advised promotion of the year: Andy’s Burgers, Shakes, and Fries is opening a restaurant in Durham, and the ad said that fans should celebrate Blue Devil football victories there.

- I absolutely cannot handle another season filled with field goal kicking like tonight. I am at my breaking point. I remain committed to the idea that I should train my daughter to become a kicker, and force her to choose Duke.

- Tonight they highlighted the opening of the new practice field and football building, and it gave me an idea. The two corporate dudes must start saving their money to some day buy a building on campus. The catch? It must be called The Dude Duke Football Building.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

John Kerry, Meet Bloody Sock

In the sad aftermath of the passing of Ted Kennedy comes the even more vomit-inducing news that grade-A jerk Curt Schilling is contemplating a run for the vacancy. Massachusetts, please tell you're smart enough not to hand a historic senate seat to someone who has, at various times:
- stumped for George W. Bush and John McCain
- showed up his teammates (ask Mitch Williams)
- made up things about Barry Bonds.