Postgame: An underwhelming performance today from the typically strong Duke passing game was overshadowed by a surprisingly strong performance from the running game. Official statistics from today’s game are not yet available, but both squads had players near 100 yards on the ground. For the White team, Josh Snead posted (unofficially) 99 yards on nine carries, just one Matt Daniels-touchdown-saving-tackle away from becoming the first true freshman since 1945 to rush for 100 yards in Duke’s Spring Game. On the Blue side, Desmond Scott and Brandon Connette both put forth strong rushing performances, while both Connette and Sean Schroeder posted completion percentages well below 50% on the game.
Injuries could have a lot to do with the performance of the passing game, as star receiver Donovan Varner sat out the contest with a foot/ankle injury. Coaches were not specific about the nature of the injury, but head coach David Cutcliffe was proud to report after the game that the team had escaped the spring with no surgeries needed, and that all minor injuries would be fully healed by the time fall practices begin. Cutcliffe is also confident that Sean Renfree will be ready to play September 4 against Elon, and added that Renfree will be the Blue Devils’ number one quarterback when the season begins.
2:30 4th Quarter; Blue 17, White 3: This one is all but over as the Blue team runs down the field and the clock expires, more to come post-game.
8:24 4th Quarter; Blue 17, White 3: The Blue defense comes up with a strong showing, holding the White team to 4-and-out as Sean Schroeder throws incomplete on 4th-and-goal from the 5-yard line. We’ll see if the White team can come up with a turnover here and get back in this game. So far we have had zero turnovers on the day, a disappointing number for the defensive coaching staff.
9:36 4th Quarter; Blue 17, White 3: Josh Snead gives some electricity to the offense here for the White team, breaking off a 60-yard run down to the 6-yard line before Matt Daniels was able to drag him down. The freshman continues to establish himself as the go-to option in Duke’s backfield going forward.
5:00 3rd Quarter; Blue 17, White 3: Not much going on here in the third quarter as the two teams have gone back and forth in the middle of the field. Johnny Williams just had a great pass break-up for the Blue team, as he now lines up as one of Duke’s starting cornerbacks along with Chris Rwabukamba. Williams will wear number 3 this season as he switches over from wide receiver, where he was one of the Blue Devils’ more productive options the past two years. Duke will look for him to be an immediate contributor on defense as the Blue Devils try to get more aggressive on that side of the ball, and he’ll fill in for departing senior Leon Wright–one of Duke’s most exciting players from the 2009 campaign.
Halftime; Blue 17, White 3: Very sparse attendance here at Wallace Wade Stadium this afternoon, with some entire sections containing only a dozen or so spectators. The section located directly above the 1960 ACC Championship sign is completely empty on the eastern side of the stadium. Meanwhile, the western side under the press box is packed with recruits and their families. My guess is that about 75% of today’s spectators are in this section of possible future Blue Devils.
So far neither team seems to be able to connect deep downfield, though the coaching staff seems intent on developing that aspect of the offense. Each team has featured at least one deep pass per series, though neither team has connected on a pass much longer than 10 yards. Cutcliffe has just announced his spring awards during a short halftime presentation, the winners are as follows:
Most Improved Offensive Players: QB Brandon Connette & OT Perry Simmons
Most Improved Defensive Player: LB Kevin Rojas
Blue Devil Heart Award: S Jeffrey Faris
5:38 2nd Quarter; Blue 17, White 3: Patrick Kurunwune pounds home a touchdown run from the 2-yard line to give the Blue team a two touchdown advantage. The White team seems to be struggling to move the ball, and it will be interesting to see who starts on September 4 against Elon. Redshirt sophomore Sean Renfree is in uniform today but is not expected to take any snaps as he recovers from ACL surgery, after suffering a tear of that ligament November 7, 2009 against Georgia Tech. Schroeder was expected to be “next in line” for the job with Renfree’s injury and the graduation of Thaddeus Lewis, but Connette appears to be making a strong case for the job. The quarterback situation will certainly be addressed in post-game discussion, and we’ll fill you in on Cutcliffe’s take on the situation.
2:18 1st Quarter; Blue 7, White 3: Nick Maggio knocked down a field goal for the White team, but Connette led the Blue team down the field with his legs and hit Tyree Watkins on a six-yard pass to produce the first touchdown of the game. Connette isn’t the only early-to-enroll true freshman playing a significant role today, as running back Josh Snead out of Smithfield, N.C. has taken the bulk of the carries for the White team. Snead seems to have surpassed Desmond Scott on the depth chart, who has been lining up behind Connette for the Blue squad. Junior Jay Hollingsworth is in uniform for the White team but has yet to see the field.
7:21 1st Quarter; Blue 0, White 0: We’ve seen our first trick play of the game as Schroeder handed off to Austin Kelly in the backfield, who then rolled right and threw a pass short and incomplete as he slipped, intended for Schroeder. The Blue Devils have unveiled a new formation in this game, as both squads are using a set with the quarterback in the shotgun four yards off the line, with the running back an additional three yards behind the quarterback. The formation then features either one tight-end with three receivers or four receivers without a tight-end.
10:04 1st Quarter; Blue 0, White 0: The nation’s first Spring Game of 2010 is underway at Wallace Wade Stadium. It will be the traditional White vs. Blue format for Duke, with the White team featuring the first team offense led by redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Schroeder. True freshman Brandon Connette got things going for the Blue squad, throwing a deep ball incomplete on the first play of the game. A pair of punts have opened things up so far in front of a sparse crowd on this cloudless day in Durham. We’ll be back periodically throughout the game with previews of the top storylines of the 2010 season.