Duke linebacker Ben Humphreys turned on his team iPad on Sunday morning, eager to see video of the Blue Devils’ 38-35 win over Notre Dame.
A few hours later, the video was of Virginia only. The Blue Devils turned the page quickly.
“Once that Sunday practice hits, we were all about Virginia,” Humphreys said Tuesday of preparing for the Blue Devils’ upcoming opponent. “We were done celebrating.”
Winning at Notre Dame on Saturday was huge for Duke, for David Cutcliffe’s program, for this season. It was done despite the knee injury to senior safety DeVon Edwards, a team captain, and it was a game won despite Duke trailing 14-0 early in the game and 35-28 in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium.
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But Humphreys, a sophomore, said he didn’t land at RDU late Saturday night eager to get back on campus and start seeking out ESPN highlights, watching replay after replay. No late-night chest-thumping.
“I never look at that stuff,” he said, smiling. “I was just happy for what this program was able to accomplish.”
Humphreys did say he later watched some of the Duke offensive video, able to see the play of quarterback Daniel Jones – named the ACC rookie of the week – and his touchdown passes to Anthony Nash and Quay Chambers, the running of Jela Duncan and Shaun Wilson and the work of the offensive line.
“There was no Jumbotron, so we weren’t able to see a lot,” Humphreys said. “I didn’t even know Quay Chambers scored until after the game.”
The reality now is that while Duke has evened its record at 2-2, the Blue Devils are 0-1 in the ACC. The Blue Devils’ first ACC game was a 24-14 loss at home to Wake Forest, followed by the 24-13 road loss against Northwestern.
But it all came together for Duke on Saturday at Notre Dame. Cutcliffe said Tuesday he sensed the Blue Devils would win before getting on the team bus to the stadium, believing the week of preparation had been good and every facet covered.
“I never had a doubt in my mind and I did not have a doubt at 14-0,” Cutcliffe said. “But I had no idea Shaun Wilson was getting ready to take it back to the house.”
Wilson’s 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown changed the course of the game in 13 seconds. After a defensive stop, the Blue Devils soon tied it 14-14.
“It was a total team fight,” Jones said. “None of us were perfect but we fought for 60 minutes.”
Jones’ second TD pass to Nash, a 64-yarder, pulled the Blue Devils into a 35-35 tie in the fourth quarter and Duke’s defense was at its best in its last series. Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer was sacked on second down, then unloaded a pass under pressure that Duke safety Deondre Singleton picked off at the Notre Dame 45, setting up AJ Reed’s winning field goal.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was waiting for Kizer at the sideline, demanding an answer for such a poor decision. Duke’s defense, despite giving up some yards and points in the game, had won the battle.
“You definitely want to get him rattled,” Duke cornerback Bryon Fields said. “We showed them some things they hadn’t seen before, coverage wise.”
Virginia, after an 0-3 start, gave first-year coach Bronco Mendenhall his first win a week ago, topping Central Michigan 49-35. While the Blue Devils have won six of the past eight in the series, the Cavaliers beat Duke 42-34 last season.
Fields, a redshirt junior, said the Notre Dame victory could prove to be much like the Virginia game in 2013. The Blue Devils, after ACC losses to Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh, trailed Virginia 22-0 in their next ACC game but rallied to win 35-22 in Charlottesville, Va.
“It can turn your season around, building your confidence and understanding as a team what you’re capable of,” Fields said.
Virginia at Duke
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham
TV: ACC Network Extra