Saturday, November 28, 2009

Duke - Wake: The Battle for Mediocrity

Words would fail to do justice to the careers of this senior class, so instead I present to you a photo essay chronicling the quest for .500.





Vince Oghobaase can't quite get to Riley Skinner. Overshadowed by Thad's swan song, The Big O also played his last game for Duke Saturday. When as a high school stud he turned down football powers to ink with the Blue Devils, it was supposed to mark a change in Duke recruiting. It's hard to say what impact he's had on that end of things, but I don't think he ever quite reached that potential. He hurt his knee before his first season, and this year missed a handful of games due to injury. Still, he was always a factor up front, and we should be seeing him on Sundays.





I'm not sure what the Blue Devil is doing to that man, but the Hall of Fame Bowl plaque will not be getting any company this year.





Please ignore the awkward tilt of the camera, but the point of this picture is that no Blue Devils were cropped out of the frame. Too often Duke failed to put any pressure on Skinner and too often our defensive backs were nowhere to be seen. This was an easy TD, and there were a few more like it. Later in the game Wake scored its 35th point of the game on a simple post when the receiver just blew past Leon Wright.





Thad led his offense for a final time this afternoon. What can we say about Thad? He passed 10,000 career passing yards, just the second man in ACC history to do that. He's shattered every Duke passing record. And after just one win in his first two seasons, he finished with four last year and five this year. In the postgame, he said he left Duke in a better place than he found it, and for that, we must all salute him. Thad truly is Rad.




Apparently bored with the game, the Blue Devil attacks his own shadow.





Although the running game has been pretty terrible this year, Desmond Scott and the other Duke running backs had some holes to run through today. The final numbers aren't staggering, but Duke was playing catch-up for most of the second half. Overall, one of the stronger running days for Duke.





Down 11, Thad watches as Hoffman can't come down with a touchdown grab. He threw too high on third down, and Duke is forced to settle for a field goal.





Thad misses Brandon King on the sideline. Today would not go down as one of Thad's better efforts. Although the final offensive numbers look good, he just wasn't that sharp. On the first play of the game he missed Varner wide open for a sure touchdown, and as the picture shows, that was not his only misfire. After the game, Cut said although he hasn't talked to the press about it, Thad has barely practiced in three weeks due to his thigh injury, and Cut said that was one reason his QB has not been that precise with his timing.





Thad completes a pass despite taking a tough hit.





Vernon comes down with the ball on a leaping catch. This group of receivers, led by Vernon and Varner (who broke 1000 yards for the year), is coming back next year, so whichever Sean is leading the way, he'll have some good guys to throw to.





With 4:41 left, and Duke down 8, the defense needed a stop on 3rd and 8 at the 26. Leon Wright (obstructed by the play clock) had this play covered and out came the kicker, who had already missed an easy one. Unfortunately, we didn't get lucky twice, and it was a two possession game. Wright had a good senior year, leading all Blue Devils with five interceptions. Of course, he'll best be remembered for this year's Army game, when on two straight plays from scrimmage he scored two touchdowns on a pair of INTs. And while we're talking defense, a special goodbye to Vincey Rey, Duke's leading tackler this season.





On the next drive, facing a 4th-and-2, Thad held the ball a touch too long, and he threw a game-ending interception.





But wait, on the ensuing kickoff, Desmond Scott gives us a glimmer of hope.





The last pass of Thad's Duke career... a touchdown. Perfect.





Well, not quite.

29 comments:

The Dude said...

Bravo! Thad for DudeSpin HoF?

wife of undude said...

this is a lovely piece of photojournalism. i hope the other commenters are giving you credit for your pics. also, it's too bad this public forum can't host some of the best shots of the day--of a young dude getting hoisted into the air for every point scored by the devils. good thing she had to nap before the end of the first quarter, or your arms would've been too fatigued to post this.

HD said...

I think Thad is elected with a voice vote -- can there be any question? Renfree gets handed the keys to an already finely-tuned machine next year, ready to tackle Elon and avoid the Richmond debacle.

Thad is Rad said...

I thought the fact that you even had to ask about Thad was insulting to his honor. With the possible exception of Barack, who has monopolized more Dude love and more Dude conversation over the last four years?

And to anticipate your nomination of Obama, no, unlike the Nobel Prize, you actually have to do something first to be in the Dude Hall of Fame.

Thad is Rad said...

Your Elon comment had me check next year's schedule.

9/18: Alabama at Duke.
DudeMania: Durham is set. I'll see you all there.

HD said...

The Alabama game is at Duke? I knew we played them, but why in the world would Alabama play that on the road?

And I think you make a good point that Lewis and Obama should be elected together. Actually, you didn't make that point, but it makes sense.

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

A co-worker who's an Alabama fan actually was telling me about this the other day - and I immediately thought of Undude. Seems Bama agreed to the home-and-home with the understanding that Duke's "home" game would be held at a neutral site, possibly Charlotte or Atlanta. This should not be surprising considering who the AD was at the time. But when White got hired, he decided not to move the game. All these years later, somebody finally listened to Undude's column!

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