Duke vs. North Carolina: What worked, what needs work and what's next

Posted by Laura Keeley on December 2, 2013 

The Blue Devils came out of Chapel Hill with plenty to celebrate.

CHUCK LIDDY

— The goal on UNC’s final drive was to not let the Tar Heels cross midfield.

And on fourth-and-5 from the UNC 41-yard line, it looked like Duke would do just that. But Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams eluded the Blue Devils’ pressure, scrambling 10 yards, across midfield, for first down.

Duke associate head coach Scottie Montgomery slammed his lamented sheet on his knee, and there was a similar wave of momentary frustration across the sideline. On the field, though the Blue Devils stayed poised.

"We knew it wasn’t over," cornerback Ross Cockrell said. "We knew we had a couple more yards to give up before we were in field goal range. We just continued to fight, continued to play. I kind of wanted Coach Cut to call a timeout because I was kind of gassed out there. But DeVon (Edwards) got the interception, and it ended it for us."

So now you’re starting to question Cutcliffe, a reporter said in jest.

"I’m not questioning anything," Cockrell said with a laugh. "I was a little tired, though, I will say that."

With that, here’s a look back at what worked, what needs work and what’s next for the Blue Devils.

No. 20 Duke (10-2, 6-2 in the ACC)

Won at North Carolina, 27-25

Game story, on the exclamation mark on the Duke football resuscitation project

Luke DeCock on Cutcliffe’s ride off the field

Just call DeVon Edwards Mr. November

26 months ago, Cutcliffe made a 3-year plan that included making the ACC Championship game. Mission accomplished

Luke again, on Duke finding the belief in the season’s darkest moment

What worked:

For the second straight game, Anthony Boone turned in a strong passing performance. The plan going in was to let him handle the majority of the snaps, and that paid off as he went 23-for-34 (67.6 percent) with 274 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He ran the zone-read effectively, choosing when to hand-off and when to throw at the proper time (Duke had 187 rushing yards as well, with an average of 4.1 yards per rush). The line didn’t give up any sacks and limited North Carolina to just three tackles for loss for a combined seven yards.

Defensively, Duke was strong on third down, limiting the Tar Heels to just two conversions on 12 tries (UNC did go 3-for-4 on fourth down tries, to its credit). The line consistently pressured quarterback Marquise Williams, who was hurried nine times, the final time coming on the Edwards interception that sealed the win for the Blue Devils.

Speaking of Edwards, his 99-yard kickoff return was the key special teams play in the game. Ryan Switzer, the UNC punt return man who had recorded four touchdowns in three games, had just one opportunity, and we was quickly brought down after five yards.

What needs work:

The Jamison Crowder muffed punt after the defense forced a three-and-out was costly, as UNC turned it into eight points. That was the only major miscue of the game. UNC did have success running the ball, averaging 5.8 yards per carry on 39 attempts for 225 total yards.

What’s next:

Duke will make its debut in the ACC Championship game against No. 1 Florida State next Saturday at 8 p.m. on ABC. It will mark the first time any Triangle team has appeared in the title game, which debuted in 2005.

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