Duke vs. Navy: what worked, what needs work, what’s next

Posted by Laura Keeley on October 13, 2013 

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Duke head coach David Cutcliffe (left) is all smiles with assistant coach Scottie Montgomery in the closing seconds.

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Duke (4-2)

Beat Navy 35-7

Offense: Brandon Connette’s surprise injury, Anthony Boone’s return

Defense: Fewest points allowed to an FBS opponent since 2008

Postgame thoughts

What worked:

Pretty much everything, as head coach David Cutcliffe called it the cleanest, best game the Blue Devils have had in his six years in Durham (there was that costly fumble for a Tar Heels’ touchdown in last year’s UNC win, so I’ll buy it).

Quarterback Anthony Boone was nearly flawless in his return from a broken collarbone, going 31-of-38 (.816) for a career-high 295 yards and three touchdowns. Sunday, Boone felt good, Cutcliffe said, with just typical postgame soreness (backup quarterback Brandon Connette remains out with an ankle injury). All four running backs averaged at least five yards per carry and executed critical blocks that kept Boone protected. Shaquille Powell, typically the odd man out, had a particularly strong day, averaging nine yards per carry and finishing with three carries for 27 yards and a touchdown.

The defense gave up its fewest points to an FBS opponent since a 10-7 win over Vanderbilt in 2008 and forced three turnovers, which equaled Navy’s total from its first four games combined. The Midshipmen only gained 73 yards in the second half. It all started up front, as Duke’s front seven combined for two sacks, two quarterback hurries, two pass break-ups, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

"Guys had a little confidence, getting turnovers was huge because you know you can do out there and do it again," linebacker Kelby Brown said. After watching Brown Friday, Cutcliffe didn’t expect him to play, but he felt “great” in pregame warm-ups

And Duke even executed a fake field goal early in the fourth quarter, with holder Will Monday (the punter) pitching the ball to Issac Blakeney for a six-yard gain. The drive ended two plays later with Powell’s touchdown run.

Navy head coach Ken Niumatololo called it "one of the worst days that Navy football’s had in a long, long time."

"We got our butts whipped all the way around," Niumatololo said. "We got outcoached, we got outplayed. It’s been a long time since we got beat that bad."

What needs work:

Small details. Monday did shank a punt, which Cutcliffe noted in his postgame press conference. The offensive backs and receivers need to block better on the perimeter. And that’s pretty much it as far as complaints go.

What’s next:

Duke will go on the road for just the second time this year (and first time in over a month) and play at Virginia (2-4). The Cavaliers are reeling after a blowout home loss to Ball State and a one-point loss at Maryland. The Blue Devils have beat the Cavaliers in four of the past five years.

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