Duke’s Daniel Jones threw for one touchdown, ran for another, and boosted his NFL Draft Stock on Saturday with two wins: the game and MVP of the Reeses’ Senior Bowl. He led the North team to victory under NFL coach Jon Gruden and had 115 yards throwing. We were sad to see him leave us for the NFL but we’re happy to see him be able to follow his dreams in the NFL.
Duke finished off this season with a bang to win the Walk-On Independence Bowl, defeating the Temple Owls by a smashing score of 56-27. Not much was expected as Duke had lost their two final games of the season in lopsided fashion and had been 2-4 later in the season after a 5-1 start. The Blue Devils came in a 3.5-point underdog, especially having suffered multiple hits to the defensive corps throughout the season, including star CB Mark Gilbert, S Deondre Singleton, and Edgar Cerenord, and would also play without arguably their most important defensive players, Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys. However, the defense was the one that stepped up in the second half to hold Temple scoreless while the offense racked up 36 points to fuel the win.
Quarterback Daniel Jones played in what is likely to have been his final game in a Duke uniform, ending his season as prolifically as his team with 429 passing yard, 121 rushing yards, and 6 overall touchdowns (5 passing, 1 rushing). Senior wide receiver TJ Rahming also had an impressive performance in his last game, making 12 receptions for 240 yards, his season high. Temple couldn’t seem to defend Duke’s passing game, and as their offense was stopped by Duke’s defensive game, the second half was a downright blowout.
The defense stepped up incredibly well today despite a season marred by injuries. They stopped the owls on fourth down 3 times (one a botched snap on a punt), as well as under 50% on 3rd down (6-14). Duke’s offense was just a bit excited about throwing the ball on three separate occasions and was intercepted (twice for Jones, once for backup Quentin Harris who entered the game intermittently). Temple actually led 27-20 at the half, and had even led 20-7 early, but came to a grinding halt immediately as Duke started to roll on both sides of the field and the blowout began.
Offensively, multiple Independence Bowl records were set: Daniel Jones set two with both the most passing yards and passing touchdowns, while the entire team combined to set the scoring record.
Daniel Jones now has a decision to make regarding next season. Many have said- and personally, I agree- that leaving Duke for the 2018 NFL Draft would probably be the best option for Jones. As much as we love having him here at Duke, he’s graduated with a degree in economics and is one of the highest ranked quarterbacks this year- even a possible first round pick, something that hasn’t happened to a Duke quarterback in years (and only once!). With multiple NFL teams looking for a quarterback pretty much imminently, and the 2019 class looking stacked with guys like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, he could easily go a lot higher if he were to leave this year. Also, that’s a full year of NFL salary. We’ve been so lucky to have him and he’s worked his butt off to go from barely being looked at as a recruit to a huge prospect in the NFL and he showed it today. Look to Krazies’ Korner to get information on his decision and next year’s outlook.
Bleed blue. Congratulations to the Duke football team of 2018!
Duke Football takes one last trip for the 2018 season after a few weeks of preparation in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana against Temple University (8-4). Temple started at 2-3 but gave a strong 6-1 finish in the later part of the season, its only loss to #7 UCF, while Duke performed essentially the opposite. They starting a strong 5-1 but fell out at the end of the season for a meager 2-4 to finish at 7-0.
The final game of the year was a devastating loss in a game that should’ve been at least competitive against Wake Forest at 59-7. However, that was at least somewhat affected by the losses that occurred in a loss at Clemson. Hopefully, an injury-riddled season (see Mark Gilbert, Edgar Cerenord, Deondre Singleton) will end with at least half a roster playing.
Even if we were perfectly healthy, we would be extremely challenged by this team.
Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe
Fate will probably decide Duke’s chances to win. Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris, probably the most important components on the defensive side of the field, are both questionable to take the field Thursday, so it really depends on whether or not they’ve healed from their respective injuries. If both players were to play, it would greatly improve our chances to stop Temple’s offense.
Daniel Jones just might play his last game suited up for the Blue Devils today. As the #2 prospect on ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s QB Draft Board after Oregon’s Justin Herbert chose to stay in college, he is pretty likely to depart Duke this year for the NFL Draft. He has pinpoint accuracy and can run when necessary. He’s a really good quarterback and has gone from hardly being looked at and without a guaranteed scholarship to an NFL prospect in just a few years. He deserves a heck of a lot of respect. Sources say that he is undecided in whether to turn pro or remain at Duke another year, but it should be noted that Jones graduated this month (one semester early), probably influencing his decision.
Daniel Jones had a monstrous outing against the North Carolina Tar Heels as Duke outlasted the North Carolina Tar Heels in a rivalry matchup heard round the world of central North Carolina. It took neither team time to find a rhythm on offense, as the first half alone consisted of 63 points. Duke, however, managed to get some stops in the second half to slow the Rams and get the win at home. It’s the third straight year that Duke will claim the bell- Carolina leads the overall series but the past few years have indeed favored the Blue Devils.
The Chronicle called him “DAN THE MAN”, which was well-deserved as Duke got a heck of a game out of quarterback Daniel Jones, who absolutely torched the Carolina defense and garnered a total of 547 total yards with over 361 passing and 185 rushing. UNC battled out to the final play, but it was Jones’s electrifying play that would win out. Specifically, Jones had two long runs that would score and set up a touchdown, respectively, for the Blue Devils that got the team and crowd pumped. It was one of the best performances ever by a Duke quarterback.
Defense Comes Up Big
After an absolute shootout in the first, the defense came up big for us in the second half. A tale of two halves, as some might call it: offense was rolling in the first on either side of the field yet neither team could keep the momentum in the second. Duke, specifically, had multiple big stops in a game where every possession mattered. Star linebacker Joe Giles-Harris was held out for injury, yet another major player sidelined, but the Blue Devils pulled through.
Next Up: @ Clemson, TBD
Duke takes on the #2 team in the country in Death Valley next week. Time TBD.
First things first, my utmost condolences to all those affected by the awful events in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania today. Nothing like that should ever happen to anybody, regardless of association, for any reason whatsoever. A football game seems completely stupid to consider amidst these circumstances but I’ll try.
The victims of today’s tragic events are in our thoughts and in our hearts. The people of Pittsburgh are standing together in love and support of our Squirrel Hill community.
I’m trying to be positive here, but, honestly, the “Final Minutes” thing is really the best part. In the worst defensive showing I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, Duke Football lost to Pittsburgh 54-45. Yes, Pittsburgh, and yes, we allowed 52 points and 484 rushing yards. Not even total, that’s rushing alone. We led 42-32 in the almost-end of the fourth (42-35 by the actual end) but it went even further downhill from there. Multitudes of injuries on the defensive side including star CB Mark Gilbert really showed today, but that’s no excuse and we really need to work hard these next few days in preparation for Miami next week. Pittsburgh did not punt once. Looking on the bright side, our offense thrived pretty well for most of the game, only punting once, so hopefully, that momentum will carry against a traditionally stout defense against the U.
Bleed blue. Read my next post! Trust me, it’s way better.
Duke fell to Virginia Tech, 31-14, for their first loss on Saturday, having gone 4-0 earlier in the season. We still have a respectable 4-1 record, but the loss hurts. Duke really didn’t play well, either: Daniel Jones started out looking great, especially coming off the collarbone fracture, but there were a few that looked not-so-great. He simply overthrew to Chris Taylor in the end zone twice, who got his fingertips on it. He was nearly intercepted multiple times, and one the Hokies did manage to pick off and got a field goal off of it. One ray of hope was that drive, actually: Duke’s defense didn’t play well for most of the game, but at the end of that drive Virginia Tech got down into the red zone and we held them there for a field goal.
Running Game Stalled
I want to say one thing about Virginia Tech: Whatever happened in that Old Dominion game did not happen last night. They were just about as good as they’ve been in years past. Old Dominion was a fiasco but it’s not a testament to the team’s potential. They are good and OD can’t change that, as much as they’ve shifted the public eye. Virginia Tech’s defense (which OD tore up) was stout in this one, and they stalled Duke’s running game to a grinding halt. They ran up the middle a lot but succeeded more on short screen passes. The running game led to a lot (a lot) of 3rd down scenarios that, if you look below, it seemed only the Hokies were able to pull off. We had just 71 rushing yards, and we average over 230. Virginia Tech’s defense played with a chip on their shoulders and we did anything but, plain and simple.
3rd Down Issues
Virginia Tech converted on the most unlikely of 3rd down situations: 3rd and 9, 3rd and 15, all kinds of things that Duke is supposed to defend. Often backup QB Ryan Willis would make us pay for the blitz with a pass that the impressive receivers could get for a first down to extend the drive. We will have to improve our third down defense if we want to succeed under the bright lights, which Duke has not shown an ability to do.
Looking on the Bright Side
This loss is not the end of the world for the Blue Devils. We’re still just two games away from bowl eligibility and we’ve got plenty of games to do that, and we can learn from this game for bigger ones in the future. Daniel Jones did not get hurt all over again- something we worried about as he entered the game just three weeks following surgery. I’m shocked at the number of sources calling this an “upset”: VA Tech is a good team, period. Duke is still a good team, period. This is a bump in the road, plain and simple. Bull City Proud!
Bleed blue. Next week we’ve got Georgia Tech: now we can have the mentality of a chip on our shoulders, like Virginia Tech had with us. We need that kind of a game right now. By the way, Three weeks to COUNTDOWN!
Just three weeks following surgery to repair a fractured left clavicle, Duke’s Daniel Jones is back for the Blue Devils and will start against Virginia Tech. We knew that he had a shot at returning during October, but a return this early is both exciting and nervewracking. Every hit he takes will be a scare, but I trust the judgment of Duke’s medical team to get him out when he’s able, which is apparently now. Duke Basketball Report stated the situation well:
“Three weeks isn’t long for most people to get over surgery and most of us aren’t running for our lives every Saturday.”