Sunday, September 27, 2009
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?