October 2, 2006
Woeful Blue Devils perfect tonic for Tide
What: Duke (0-4, 0-3 in ACC) at Alabama (3-2, 1-2 in SEC)
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,138), Tuscaloosa, Ala.
When: October 7, 2006
Time/TV: 6:07 p.m. CT/Pay-per-view
Series record: Tied, 1-1.
Last meeting: 1972: Alabama 35, Duke 12.
Head Coach: Ted Roof has compiled a 5-26 record in two-plus seasons at Duke. Roof took over as interim head coach following the dismissal of Carl Franks during the 2003 season. He was given the job on a permanent basis after guiding the Blue Devils to wins over Georgia Tech and arch-rival North Carolina. Roof began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Bill Curry at Alabama from 1987-1988.
2006 by the numbers: Scoring offense: 3.2 ppg (12th in ACC); Pass offense: 166.5 ypg (8th in ACC); Rush offense: 37.5 ypg (12th in ACC); Total offense: 204.0 ypg (12th in ACC); Scoring defense: 25.0 ppg (11th in ACC); Pass defense: 204.5 ypg (10th in ACC); Rush defense: 92.5 ypg (6th in ACC); Total defense: 297.0 ypg (8th in ACC).
How Duke's offense operates: The Blue Devils employ a ball control attack that bases out of a standard two-back, one-tight end formation. While the offense is slanted more towards the run, after serving under Ralph Friedgen at Georgia Tech and Maryland, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has a thorough understanding of the passing game. Unfortunately for O'Brien, the Blue Devils lost their starting quarterback for the 2006 season when Zack Asack was suspended for plagiarism. After coming of the bench to replace Marcus Jones in Duke's season-opening loss to Richmond, true freshman Thaddeus Lewis took over in Week 2. In making his starting debut at Wake Forest, Lewis hit on 21-of-32 passes for 305 yards and one touchdown (the Blue Devils' lone trip to the end zone through four games). In a 37-0 loss to Virginia last Saturday, Lewis completed 11-of-25 passes for 121 yards and three interceptions.
Duke's best offensive player: Wide receiver Jomar Wright. How can you go against the guy who is responsible for his team's only touchdown on the season? Wright has caught 13 passes for 161 yards, including a 47-yard TD reception at Wake Forest on Sept. 9.
Greatest area of strength for the Duke offense: With the ground game going absolutely nowhere, wide receivers Wright, Raphael Chestnut and Eron Riley have been extremely busy. Lewis will also look to tight end Nick Stefanow, who has recorded six receptions for 65 yards.
When the Blue Devils run the ball they will call on: Duke's top two tailbacks -- Justin Boyle and Ronnie Drummer -- went down with injuries in the first half of the season opener. Both are just now returning to full strength. Boyle managed just 18 yards on 10 carries against Virginia last Saturday. Drummer went for 4 yards on three carries in the loss.
These are the guys Lewis will look to throw to: In addition to backing up Lewis, Jones is once again seeing time at wide receiver. His 42 receiving yards on four catches led the way against Virginia. The sophomore caught 11 passes for 90 yards and one touchdown in 2005. Chestnut leads all Duke receivers with 16 grabs for 162 yards.
Where's the weakness on offense?: The offensive line. With just one starter back from a season ago, the Blue Devils have given up 22 sacks in four games. In the Virginia loss, Lewis was sacked six times and the running game was in the red (minus-22 yards). Duke is averaging 1-yard per carry through four games.
How Duke's defense operates: Roof's background is on defense and he's largely responsible for what this unit does from a scheme standpoint. While the Blue Devils base out of a 4-3 alignment, Roof has utilized the 3-4 in the past. Once in their three-down look, opponents can expect to see plenty of zone blitzing.
Duke's best defensive player: Tough to choose between middle linebacker Michael Tauiliili and cornerback Patrick Talley. After leading the Blue Devils in tackles in 2005, Tauiliili is off to another great start. Tauiliili has racked up 32 stops and six tackles for loss through four games this season. Talley is responsible for the defense's lone interception to date and has recorded two of its three forced fumbles. Of his 19 tackles, 3.5 have gone for loss.
Greatest area of strength for the Blue Devil defense: Tauiliili, Jeramy Edwards and Codey Lowe makeup a formidable linebacking corps. The trio have combined to make 71 tackles in four games.
Where's the weakness on defense?: Even with the presence of one of the nation's top corners in Bailey, the Blue Devils' secondary has struggled against the pass. Virginia Tech lit Duke up for 316 passing yards three Saturdays ago.
Kickin' it up a notch: Placekicker Joe Surgan has connected on 2-of-6 field goal attempts, His two misses from point-blank range (27 and 28 yards) against Wake Forest in Week 2 proved costly in a 14-13 loss. He has a long make of 39 yards. Alex Feinberg is averaging 37.6 yards per punt and the Blue Devils' net average of 28.1 ranks last in the ACC. Duke's 2.5-yard punt return average is also at the bottom of the league.
Odds and ends: You think Alabama has problems in the red zone? The Blue Devils are 1-for-9 inside the 20, with their only conversion coming on a field goal. Duke has lost four fumbles in the red zone this season.
9/2/06 Richmond (L, 3-13)
9/9/06 at Wake Forest (L, 13-14)
9/16/06 at Virginia Tech (L, 0-36)
9/30/06 Virginia (L, 0-37)
10/7/06 at Alabama 6:07 p.m. CT/PPV
10/14/06 Florida State TBA
10/21/06 Miami TBA
10/28/06 Vanderbilt TBA
11/4/06 Navy TBA
11/11/06 at Boston College TBA
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