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Three Up, Three Down: Duke

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The football season ended in disappointing fashion, but that doesn't change the fact that the battle with Duke still contained some glimpses into an extremely bright future.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Ups

Tyler Bell. For once, a Wake running back had a really strong day.  The freshman from Alabama had 94 yards on 16 carries for a 5.9 YPC average, one TD, and a long of 20.  That's good stuff.  Honestly, the offensive line did a really good job in general this game in all kinds of blocking.

The Receiving Corps. Cam Serigne had 135 yards on 5 catches and one TD.  He's a sophomore.  Cortez Lewis had 68 yards on 5 catches, including an absolutely absurd one-handed TD catch.  He's a freshman.  Chuck Wade had 50 yards on 4 catches.  He's a freshman.  Tabari Hines had a quiet game, but we've seen what he's capable of.  He's also a freshman.  I mean come on, this has to be far and away the most talented receiving corps we've ever had.  As much as there are question marks at the quarterback position, we have some major pieces here.

Offensive Production In General. 450 yards of offense is really good, and should be enough to win probably 95% of games.  Other than some miscues, which I'll get into below, the offense had a very, very good day in general.  I was extremely pleased...for the most part.

The Downs

Turnovers. -3 in TO margin.  Two interceptions and one fumble, every one of them on promising offensive drives.  This is something that plagued the team all season long, and with the number of close games we had this year, that made the whole thing all the more vexing.

Missed Field Goal From 28 Yards. I mean, I still love Mike Weaver, who's usually pretty reliable.  Other than this one, he missed six field goals on the year, and three of those six were from 50+ yards, and the other two were from 40-49 yards, which generally are not gimmes.  I also think Mike probably would've had better percentages with more attempts, which would've come if the offense had struggled a bit less.  But missing one from 28 is pretty atrocious, to be honest.

Baffling Defense. So the Deacs gave up 431 yards.  That's bad.  But there was something in particular about the defense that just had me scratching my head yesterday.  This is mostly anecdotal on my part, but I feel like the Deacs were mostly good in short yardage/tight plays, and mostly good against long plays.  Anything in the 5-15 yard territory, though, and it seemed like practice drills for the Blue Devils.  This problem wasn't helped along by missed tackles and soft zone coverages that had me feeling like they were playing at least 5 yards off at basically all times.

The Bottom Line

Another painful loss.  A W-L record no better than the one last season.  QB controversy.  Injuries.  You'd think, reading all those things together, that this season was a wash and might be an indictment of Coach Clawson, but it's really not.  This team absolutely did improve this year.  Not only that, but we redshirted 4 star QB prospect Kyle Kearns.  If he is anywhere near as good as advertised, our quarterback problems might be solved next year.  We're bringing in our best classes ever, the young guys got more experienced (especially on the O-Line) and the team showed a lot of fight in games that would likely have been blowouts last year.  It hurts right now, but I really think the future is still very bright, especially since we have a more favorable schedule next season.

Thanks for joining me for this football season's 3U3D.  Coverage of hoops will continue.  On to the next.  Go Deacs.

--SF