Jamison Crowder stood on the Duke sideline Saturday as the final seconds of the Kansas game ticked off, twirling a white towel over his head.
Crowder was happy about the Blue Devils’ 41-3 win at Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke’s third victory of the year.
The Blue Devils’ star receiver was happy about the record-setting day by running back Shaun Wilson, whose 8-yard run on the final snap finished off a 245-yard rushing performance for the freshman from Charlotte.
That Duke was able to thrash the Jayhawks with minimal production from Crowder, who had two catches for 14 yards, says a lot about the versatility of the offense. That Duke won with such ease speaks to how far the program has come since a 44-16 loss to Kansas five years ago.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons,” Crowder said. “This was Shaun Wilson’s coming-out party. He was on full display. At times, when we’ve got things going, we’re pretty dominant.”
The Blue Devils (3-0) were dominant against the Jayhawks (1-1). For much of the game, Kansas coach Charlie Weis barely moved on the sideline, as if transfixed by what he was seeing.
There was Wilson, with sudden, explosive bursts, ripping off touchdown runs of 69, 68 and 45 yards. There was junior wide receiver Max McCaffrey, making a career-high seven catches and scoring twice.
Over the past few years, it would have seemed unlikely Duke’s offense could have generated so many yards – the Blue Devils had 511 – and points in a game without Crowder being a big part of it. But not Saturday, although McCaffrey said Crowder’s modest production paid dividends.
“With guys like Jamison and Issac (Blakeney), they had to change their entire defense up just to focus on those guys,” McCaffrey said of the receivers. “That opens up a lot of opportunities for other people. Jamison didn’t have a great day because they were locked on him, but he was happy for everybody else.”
Crowder did have some opportunities. On one play, coach David Cutcliffe noted, Crowder broke open in the end zone, but Anthony Boone couldn’t get him the ball.
“Kansas played press coverage on (Crowder), but we just didn’t feel like we had to go there,” Cutcliffe said. “They didn’t take him away, necessarily. Anthony missed him on a fade in the end zone.
“But it’s a good thing for our football team that other people step up and can play. And that will help Jamison. I’d love for Jamison to get 10 balls a game, and we’ll look at that too and make sure he gets his touches.”
Crowder, a senior who twice has been named All-ACC, had seven catches in each of the first two games and two touchdown grabs against Elon. He now has gone 31 consecutive games with two or more receptions, the second-longest streak among NCAA receivers (East Carolina’s Justin Hardy has a 39-game streak).
“Being a player, not getting the ball, sometimes you can get down and get discouraged and not be a leader,” Crowder said. “But I pride myself on being an unselfish guy. I feel happy when I see other players making plays. It only means your team is getting better.”
Crowder talked at length Saturday about Wilson, about Wilson breaking Robert Baldwin’s school rushing record. He came off talking like a proud big brother.
Boone said not to worry, that Crowder soon will be heard from again.
“We haven’t gotten into ACC play,” Boone said. “We all know those will be big games, and he’s a big-time player.”
But Saturday was a day for others to shine, for a new offensive star to emerge as Duke started a season 3-0 for the first time since 1994. The Blue Devils have not had a turnover and had a minimum of penalties, although two did negate scores Saturday.
“We have a lot of versatility, top to bottom,” Boone said. “We have a lot of guys who can come out and be effective for us. This day, Shaun was hot.”