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Duke vs. Memphis Game Rewind

Since I hadn't seen Duke play a game yet this season I decided to go back and watch the Duke vs. Memphis game on ESPN3. It was painful at times because of how bad Memphis is, but I was able to pick up the basics on what Duke tries to do offensively and defensively. If you are familiar with the offensive scheme of Wake Forest then you will see a lot of similarities in what head coach David Cutcliffe runs down in Durham as well.

Liz Condo-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Memphis (0-4) vs. Duke (3-1)

Date: Sep 22, 2012 • Site: Durham, N.C. • Stadium: Wallace Wade Stadium • Attendance: 23658

Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Memphis 0 14 0 0 14
Duke 0 17 7 14 38

2nd 14:46 MEMPHIS McMANIS, Wynton 4 yd interception return (SPURLOCK, Tyler kick)
7 - 0
10:28 DU Brandon Connette 4 yd run (Ross Martin kick)
9 plays, 79 yards, TOP 4:12 7 - 7
09:17 MEMPHIS JONES, Tevin 2 yd run (SPURLOCK, Tyler kick)
3 plays, 5 yards, TOP 0:59 14 - 7
07:01 DU Ross Martin 23 yd field goal
7 plays, 74 yards, TOP 2:11 14 - 10
04:02 DU Conner Vernon 37 yd pass from Sean Renfree (Ross Martin kick)
4 plays, 73 yards, TOP 1:20 14 - 17
3rd 03:40 DU Desmond Scott 16 yd pass from Sean Renfree (Ross Martin kick)
5 plays, 29 yards, TOP 2:09 14 - 24
4th 10:27 DU Brandon Connette 8 yd pass from Sean Renfree (Ross Martin kick)
12 plays, 73 yards, TOP 4:57 14 - 31
06:02 DU Conner Vernon 31 yd pass from Sean Renfree (Ross Martin kick)
7 plays, 64 yards, TOP 3:41

14 - 38

Team Totals MEMPHIS DU
Rushing 4 10
Passing 5 14
Penalty 0 4
Rushing Attempts 28 44
Average Per Rush 2.5 4.0
Rushing Touchdowns 1 1
Yards Gained Rushing 99 201
Yards Lost Rushing 28 24
Completions-Attempts-Int 13-22-0 27-40-1
Average Per Attempt 3.7 8.1
Average Per Completion 6.2 12.0
Passing Touchdowns 0 4
Total offense plays 50 84
Average Gain Per Play 3.0 6.0
Fumbles: Number-Lost 2-0 4-3
Penalties: Number-Yards 8-88 3-21
PUNTS-YARDS 8-362 3-133
Average Yards Per Punt 45.2 44.3
Net Yards Per Punt 36.8 37.7
Inside 20 1 1
50+ Yards 3 1
Touchbacks 0 1
Fair catch 0 0
KICKOFFS-YARDS 3-191 6-349
Average Yards Per Kickoff 63.7 58.2
Net Yards Per Kickoff 50.3 32.2
Touchbacks 0 1
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 0-0-0 6-68-0
Average Per Return 0.0 11.3
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 4-131-0 2-40-0
Average Per Return 32.8 20.0
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 1-4-1 0-0-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 0 0
Possession Time 23:18 36:42
1st Quarter 8:07 6:53
2nd Quarter 5:49 9:11
3rd Quarter 5:33 9:27
4th Quarter 3:49 11:11
Third-Down Conversions 1 of 11 8 of 16
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 2 2 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 1-2 4-6
Touchdowns 1-2 3-6
Field goals 0-2 1-6
Sacks By: Number-Yards 1-5 4-21
PAT Kicks 2-2 5-5
Field Goals 0-0 1-1

Offense (First Half)

Ø Memphis holds Duke to a 3-and-out, but fakes the punt and the punter completes a ball to Connette (back-up QB for the first down).

Ø Duke has failed to utilize their size advantage so far, running out of the spread and outside instead of up the middle.

Ø On first glance the passing game looks similar to Wake’s. Screens and curls out of the pistol formation. Seemingly have the same o-line issues that Wake has.

Ø Runs out of the "Wildcat" with the back-up QB Connette and utilizes a misdirection attack to throw off the Memphis defense.

Ø Wow, Memphis really lacks discipline on the defensive side of the ball.

Ø Connor Vernon moves around a lot like Camp does for the Deacs. They motion him and then hi him full speed on the screen pass.

Ø Bad fumble by Snead deep in Memphis territory on a botched hand-off.

Ø In the first half, Duke just makes mistake after mistake in terms of turnovers and penalties. They dominated Memphis, but this allowed the Tigers to keep it as close as they did for as long as they did.

Ø On the second possession Duke essentially says to Memphis that "we are just going to throw to ball so stop us there". Jamison Crowder is just WIDE open on first down for a 24 yard gain. Blown corner coverage by Memphis.

Ø Another bubble screen/quick hitter to Crowder gets another 14. Crowder has a lot of speed and they utilize him as an outside RB at the WR position.

Ø Duke’s offensive line is getting absolutely no push at the LOS on running plays. That could be problematic for them going forward against better teams. I would have expected a little more off the bat from this line against a Memphis defense that had no sacks coming into the game.

Ø This first half is kind of hard to watch, especially from a neutral observer. It’s just not very good football in the first quarter.

Ø On the first play of the second quarter Sean Renfree throws a pick 6 from the 3 yard line. I’m not sure what the heck he was doing. The defensive lineman/linebacker dropped back and Renfree threw it right to him on a one-step drop curl route throw to the out receiver. That was a really bad throw by an experienced QB.

Ø Duke really can’t do anything rushing so far against Memphis, which isn’t good for Duke, but Memphis keeps biting on the PA’s that Duke runs every single play (once again, like Wake). Any yardage that the Duke RB’s have gotten has come after evading a tackler in the backfield to get positive yardage.

Ø The Blue Devils passing game has a lot of weapons in Vernon, Crowder, Scott, and even Connette.

Ø Even on 3rd down and long the Devils run a screen play and against all odds gets ten yards Makes 4-5 guys miss and gets it to a manageable yardage for 4th and 2.

Ø Since Duke can’t run the football at 4th and 2 they go PA to the FB (on this play) Brandon Connette. Connette may be the X-factor for Duke because the defense has to be aware of where he is at all times on the field.

Ø Connette then lines up at QB and runs a rollout to the right for an easy 5 yard TD. Deacs are going to have to spy him whenever he is in at QB especially.

Ø Vernon and Renfree have their timing down on the slants, especially with the man-to-man coverage that Memphis is running.

Ø Duke finally gets a big run (58 yards) from Jela Duncan (chose Duke over Wake on NSD in Feb.), on a toss sweep left. Good blocking and a great play-call, as Memphis blitzed up the middle. Duncan has a lot of speed and is pretty muscular as well.

Ø Questionable play-calling in the red-zone leads to Duke settling for a FG. On 3rd and goal they run a slant to Reeves that gets two yards.

Ø Memphis has had success working against the right side of Duke’s offensive line. That is Zach Thompson territory. I’m expecting him to have a good day of blitzing the QB.

Ø After the momentum that Duke gains from a three-and-out, the offense clicks big time in the passing game with Renfree to Vernon. Four passes, no rushes on the 73 yard scoring drive (aided by a helmet-to-helmet against Duke’s Crowder).

Ø Duke really likes the slants underneath the safeties. This will make it crucial for the Wake Forest defensive line to get adequate pressure on Renfree so the linebackers can drop back and cut that off.

Ø Memphis plays 10 yards off of Vernon and he makes them pay. The Tigers then move up the CB on the next play and Vernon runs right by the cornerback on a simple in-and-out route where there was no safety help for an easy TD. The play was aided by a PA that the linebackers and safeties both inexplicably bit on. Hopefully the Wake Forest defense will be more disciplined on Saturday.

Ø Duke is unable to convert on the recovered onside kick as Memphis defends the pass well on a three-and-out. Would have been a DEF Pass Interference if the ball on 2nd down were catchable. Vernon has apparently been working with Coach K to flop with that effort. Memphis with a really good defensive effort.

Ø Any chance of scoring before the end of the half is killed by an incomplete pass and a penalty for a false start. Vernon once again tries to flop and get a call on 3rd down. Ref doesn’t bite.

First half summary: Terrible running game for Duke(other than the 58 yard run by Duncan). Excellent passing game that is really similar to Wake Forest. Vernon is really special and the Deacs will have to pay a lot of attention to him. Discipline will be key for Wake as well with the Duke misdirection offense. Renfree can’t make the mistakes that he did on Saturday against better teams than Memphis.

Offense (Second Half)

Ø Duke opens up the second half with an interior bubble screen. Memphis has had some trouble stopping these plays and getting off of the blocking by the Duke receivers.

Ø The toss sweep left to Thompson once again works for 15 yards. They seem to like that play and it allows the offensive line to get out in front and get downfield to block.

Ø It seems that sometimes Renfree lacks that internal clock that QB’s have to have and pays for it with some big hits. Duke doesn’t trust the run at all, even with a couple of long plays. They still have had no success running up the middle behind their o-line.

Ø Jela Duncan is a pretty serious threat in open field. Renfree makes a bad throw but Duncan makes a great grab on it for 15 yards. Duncan jams his knee/hip on the play.

Ø At this point in the game Duke decides that they are going to work on the running game and they have some success with 10 running plays that takes the Devils to the one yard line before they fumble it away to Memphis. They failed twice to score from the one before they fumbled. Inexcusable with a guy like Connette that should be able to break the plan of the goalline easily. Duke also fumbled on the previous play but they recovered it.

Ø They love the shotgun zone reads and delayed draws up the middle. Wake is very accustomed to these types of plays.

Ø Josh Snead and Jela Duncan were injured in the game. Duncan came back in but I’m not sure if Snead did. Juwan Thompson, the starting RB also got injured. Word on whether or not Snead and Thompson will play Saturday will come out later today or tomorrow. Starting CB Lee Butler was also injured as well. Apparently he practiced earlier in the week though.

Ø From this game it seems that Thompson may have some fumble problems, not sure if that’s the case in the past or not.

Ø Lee Butler is a pretty solid punt returner for Duke, so if he is for some reason unable to go then it would be a hit to that sector of the Blue Devils special teams.

Ø The running game on this possession finally helps open up a TD pass from Renfree to Scott. The combination of Duncan and Connette aids the Blue Devils in this endeavor. Duke will have to run the ball well on Saturday, as I expect the Wake Forest defense to shut down the passing of Duke from time to time.

Ø The TD was a great catch by Desmond Scott as Renfree just throws a high bullet to him to make the play.

Ø This possession is really the one that breaks the Tigers back and from here the defense really can’t stop Duke on the ground and also can’t get anything going with their offensive game either.

Ø The second half Duke offense is completely different than the first half. The running and passing games complement each other well and force Memphis to defend both, which they cannot do.

Ø I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Jela Duncan this game. It’s easy to see what the Wake Forest coaching staff saw in this guy. IMO Duncan should get the start on Saturday. He is a catalyst for the offense.

Second Half Summary: Whether or not Duke will be able to get to 6 wins and go to a bowl game is extremely dependent on their running game. Their passing game is obviously very impressive and hard to stop (323 yards, 12 YPC average), but when there is no running game to go along with it then it doesn’t matter how good it is. Renfree, Connette, Vernon and Crowder can only do so much. Against better teams than NCCU, Memphis and FIU, I don’t know if Duke will be able to run the ball. They certainly couldn’t do it against Stanford so I don’t know what to expect on Saturday. The Wake Forest and Duke offenses are very, very similar and I think most Wake fans will see a lot of what the Deacon coaching staff tries to do in what Coach Cutcliffe does down in Durham.

Defense (First Half)

Ø Runs a 4-2-5 with a lot of speed and experience in the secondary. It shows a lot of different looks and it allows the 3 safeties/rover players to confuse the offense.

Ø Forces a punt, but it hits Butler (the punt returner) and Memphis recovers it deep in Duke territory.

Ø Memphis goes for 4th down deep in Duke territory, but Duke forces the runner outside and pushes him out a yard short. Duke has a pretty distinct talent/speed advantage that they have capitalized on defensively so far. The 4-2-5 is a good set-up against the Tigers because it maximizes athleticism and lets the guys in the secondary make plays.

Ø Memphis has had some success going to the out routes. Duke is crowding the middle and biting on the PA’s and the Tigers can isolate their receivers for an easy gain.

Ø When Memphis tries the screens Duke swarms to the ball and shuts it down. They read the play well when they don’t gamble and just stay at home instead.

Ø It’s hard to tell how good Duke is on defense in this game because of the Memphis penalties, as well as the talent differential between the two teams.

Ø On the ensuing kickoff Memphis returns it 95 yards to the Duke 5 yard line. Memphis does a great job of blocking the Duke players to the right side of the field while the returner takes it to the left and just blasts through everybody. Memphis actually has a really, really good special teams.

Ø Both teams are insistent on running outside, which is an indicator that they are both used to facing bigger opponents on the defense and try to bump everything to the sidelines.

Ø Once again, Duke covers the screens pretty well at the LOS. The Deacs will need some good blocking and different looks to get Camp the ball out there as many times as they did against Army this past weekend.

Ø Duke finally gets a three and out with a couple of good plays by the linebacking corps to rush the QB (especially Sarmiento). The Devils love to stunt the DE’s and fire the blitzes up the middle.

Ø Cutcliffe then calls an onside kick which is easily converted because of the lack of discipline by the Memphis special teams. Great audible and perfect kick to get the ball back.

Ø Memphis suddenly has some success on the run, primarily because of bad tackling by Duke. They had players in the area on the first two plays but didn’t make the play.

Ø Duke does a good job of sending blitzes from different areas on the field. The defensive scheme that Coach Cutcliffe throws out there will challenge the Deacs young offensive line.

Ø The Blue Devils seemingly have some of the same tackling problems that have plagued the Deacs this year.

First Half Summary: Duke limited Memphis to 98 yards, but three turnovers made this a 17-14 lead at the half for the Devils. Memphis really doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of resistance to Duke’s size and athleticism advantage. The pass rush from all over the field in the 2nd Quarter was impressive and Memphis had no answers for it.

Defense (2nd Half)

Ø Duke kicks it out of bounds to start the second half just like Memphis kicked it out of bounds on the opening kickoff. The Devils have made a number of dumb mistakes this game, where if they were mistake free would already be up by 2-3 TD’s.

Ø Great play by Sidney Sarmiento to open the second half. He’s a good looking player that is pretty versatile at the NG position.

Ø Overpursuit could be a problem for the Devils occasionally. The blitzes that Coach Cutcliffe likes to call could come back to hurt him if a screen or draw is called at the right time.

Ø Duke’s d-line is confusing and just abusing the offensive line of Memphis.

Ø Memphis is very aggressive with three pass plays from their own end zone and Duke nearly makes them pay with a safety, but it is eluded by Karam.

Ø The Blue Devils shut down the passing game of Memphis pretty much all game and while the Tigers find some success on the ground, it’s just not enough to overcome the scoring that Duke puts on the board in the second half.

Ø Realistically, Duke just wore Memphis down with better players. I’m not sure that they will be able to do that on Saturday vs. the Deacs. That’s why they need to be impressive in the pass rush early on and force Tanner Price to get rid of the ball early and to players other than Michael Campanaro.

Second Half Summary: Duke was pretty dominant throughout the game on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the second half (allowing only 152 yards total for a 3.0 YPP average). As they have done against the inferior opponents they’ve faced off against, the Blue Devils were bigger, stronger and faster than Memphis. This is something that cannot be said a lot about Duke (or Wake). Much like the running game on the offensive side of the ball, it will be interesting to see how they fare against a middle-of-the-road team like Wake Forest. Against Stanford they struggled mightily, so time will tell how good this defense really is.