Duke vs. Wake Forest: What worked, what needs work and what’s next

Posted by Laura Keeley on November 24, 2013 

Defensive backs coach Derek Jones gives his daps to Ross Cockrell afterthe fourth-quarter interception of Tanner Price. Duke's defense has been airtight in the fourth this year.

CHUCK LIDDY

No. 24 Duke (9-2, 5-2 in the ACC)

Beat Wake Forest 28-21

Game story

Luke DeCock on sixth-year senior Kenny Anunike

More on quarterback Anthony Boone

What worked:

Duke’s passing game is definitely back on track, with starting quarterback Anthony Boone completing 82.8 percent of his passes against the Demon Deacons, the third-best single-game mark in school history. Boone went 24-of-29 for 256 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also rushed for a career-high 57 yards and took no sacks. Jamison Crowder, the best offensive player for Duke, caught 10 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. His 58-yard score on a long toss from Boone was the most impressive, as Duke changed its play call after Wake Forest backup cornerback Allen Ramsey II came in for the injured Merrill Noel.

"When we called the deep ball, we had a reason for calling it, and you you don’t know how happy I was that it worked, believe me," head coach David Cutcliffe said.

That score also answered the Wake Forest touchdown to open the third half, halting a potential momentum swing.

Defensively, the Blue Devils’ fourth-quarter defense is among the best, if not the best, in the nation. Duke recorded two sacks and forced two turnovers, shutting out the Deacons when the game was on the line. The Blue Devils’ defense has only given up 34 points all year in the fourth quarter, an average of 3.1 per game.

What needs work:

Duke’s biggest problem this year has been starting slow, which came back to haunt them in the 58-55 loss to Pittsburgh (consider that the Blue Devils are one stop away from being 10-1). Against Virginia, Duke was down 22-0 before rallying to win 25-22. Two weekends ago against Miami, it was a 10-0 and 17-7 deficit before Duke won 48-30. And this weekend, Wake Forest jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the Blue Devils mounted their comeback. In order to give themselves the best chance to upset UNC Saturday, the Blue Devils ought to find some way to reverse that trend.

What’s next:

A trip to Chapel Hill for a chance to win the Coastal Division outright and play in the ACC Championship game. Duke must beat the Tar Heels to represent the ACC in Charlotte, as a loss would keep them at home. Should the Blue Devils win, it would mark the first 10-win season in the school’s 101 years of playing football.

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