Time for a Change

September 12, 2012

Saturday was the first time I have been really excited for a Duke football game in a long time, and the West Coast did all it could to ruin the experience for me.  First of all, due to the ridiculous time difference the game wasn’t even on till 10:30 PM.  I don’t really care that the left coast wants to go through life 3 hours behind the important parts of the country.  That is their business.  But when it starts affecting my life I have a real problem with it.  10:30 on a Saturday night is an absurd time to show a football game.  Figure it out.

Even worse than the start time was the television coverage of the game.  It was on the Pac-12 Network.  And not only that it was on some sort of regional “b” channel of the Pac-12 network.  As far as I could tell the only people in the country who got the game on a reasonably standard package were people in the Bay Area with Xfinity.  I don’t even know what Xfinity is.  I have the biggest sports package DirecTV has to offer so I figured I would be ok.  Nope.  Somehow demand for the Pac-12 Network is so low that DirecTV doesn’t carry it.  This is a pretty glaring indictment of the Pac-12 Network, the Pac-12, and the West Coast in general considering that the Al Jazeera Sports Network is on DirecTV.  When your football teams have less of a television footprint than an Al Jazeera enterprise it is probably time to go back to the drawing board.

You couldn’t even watch the game at a bar, because all sports bars have DirecTV so they can get the NFL package.  I eventually found a bar owned by an old Duke football player that had somehow gotten the game on one small, low-def TV.  Thanks Pac-12 Network.

 

As bad as my experience trying to find a place to watch the game was, the actual game was much worse.  Everything I have hated about Duke football for the past five years came out in one supremely ugly game.  The defense got overrun, we lost the turnover battle, and the special teams were a disaster.  But the absolute worst part of the game to me was the complete and utter inability to move the ball.  Stanford is a very good team and I never really believed we could win the game on the road.  But never in my worst nightmares did I see the offense falling apart like it did Saturday night.  Stanford’s defense deserves a lot of credit, but Duke should never finish a half with only 3 points.  Duke spent the entire game throwing 2 yard swing passes and 4 yard crossing patterns.  No surprisingly this was ineffective and the offense stagnated.

The blame for this fiasco has mostly fallen on Cutcliffe and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, and to some extent this is fair.  Duke had nothing to lose by opening up the playbook and getting kind of weird on offense.  The status quo certainly didn’t work.  It is not fair however to blame the coaches entirely.  The Duke offensive line was completely dominated by the Stanford defensive front.  They were unable to open up any running lanes and could not protect Renfree long enough for him to look downfield.  The poor blocking was at least as much to blame for the uninspired offense as the play calling.

The final culprit in Duke offensive meltdown was quarterback Sean Renfree.  He is a good quarterback, and his skill set matches what Cutcliffe wants to do.  Unfortunately he reacts horribly to pressure.  Most of this is due to a crushing lack of speed.  Renfree might be the least mobile QB I have ever seen play at a high level.  He moves like he just lost a staring contest with Medusa. (In fairness he was quicker before knee surgery a few years ago.) To make matter worse, he panics under pressure and tries to run.  You do not have to be fast to thrive against the blitz, (ask Peyton Manning) but you do have to remain calm and stay in the pocket.  Renfree gets happy feet and starts moving and the whole play breaks down.  This is a big problem for Duke and I only see one solution.  The Blue Devils can’t replace the O-line, but they can put in a new QB.  That’s right.  It’s Anthony Boone time.

In a vacuum Anthony Boone is not as good a QB as Renfree.  He has accuracy problems and can make bad decisions.  But he also is fast as shit and can make things happen with his feet.  He played part of the second half Saturday and led the Devils to their only touchdown of the night.  You can make the argument that this was garbage time, but Boone excelled in the UNC game last year once Renfree went down with an injury.  That UNC defense also overwhelmed the Duke offensive line but Boone’s athleticism allowed him to succeed where Renfree would have failed.  I feel bad for Renfree in this situation.  He is the quarterback Duke deserves but not the one it needs.  Right now Duke needs Anthony Boone.

 

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2 Responses to “Time for a Change”

  1. Palumbo said

    Your closing sentence makes you sound like the english dude from batman comparing harvey dent to bruce wayne…which I respect

  2. […] well however and given Stanford’s big win over USC last weekend it’s possible that I overreacted to the ass-kicking they put on Duke two weeks ago.  Duke is a deeply flawed football team but […]

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