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Three Up, Three Down: Duke

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I will well and truly admit that in that first quarter, I thought this game was going to be a horror show. I've never been happier to be wrong, as a great rushing performance(?!) and hopefully an answer to the QB question has the Deacs 2-0.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Ups

Cade.  Freaking.  Carney. The freshman phenom had 108 yards on 17 carries (6.8 YPC) and three touchdowns, including a beastly 55 yarder where he got past the first line of defense and was just flat out gone.  I now see why this kid was so highly touted coming into the season.  Good gracious.  I also have to give love to the big boys up front, though, as they more than did their part blocking not only for Cade but also other rushers and solid pass protection.  It was a really strong performance all around on the ground.  Three rushers (Cade Carney, Kendall Hinton, and Matt Colburn) averaged 5+ YPC.

Kendall Hinton. The sophomore did a pretty great job in his own right, going 6/11 for 133 yards through the air (with one pick that really wasn't too much on him) to go along with 63 rushing yards on 11 carries.  Hinton is far from flawless, and he doesn't necessarily fit the prototypical pure QB mold, and he needs to work on his accuracy, especially on the short-to-midrange game, but he can bomb it and can really make amazing plays with his feet.  If he can solidify his timing in the pocket and we can vary up the playbook to let the dual threat air it out more in a mixture of ways (shots to Cam Serigne across the middle, screen passes, etc.), I could see the offense really starting to hum, especially if this rush attack can keep up to any degree.

Defense, Especially Turnovers. The defense once again acquitted themselves wonderfully.  They did give up 369 yards and 14 points, but they held the Blue Devils to 5-15 on 3rd down, forced three turnovers, and always seemed to come up big when it counted.  Duke Ejiofor in particular was a monster, forcing 2 fumbles and just being all over the place in general.  The D did get burned on a few occasions, but as an entire performance and in greater context, not a ton of fault to be found against an honestly talented Duke squad.  Not FSU or Clemson talented, but certainly not your daddy's Duke squad, either.

The Downs

Much Of That First Quarter. There's a reason I said, admittedly far too early, that the Deacs may as well just go home.  This game started flat out ugly, with Wake receiving the opening kick, going three and out, then giving up Duke's longest drive of the game, 60 yards in 17 play, including the 1 yard TD rush on an almost fantastic goal line stand by the Deacs.  That was followed by punt, punt, a missed Duke FG, and then a Wake fumble.  After that the Deacs got it together, with Kendall Hinton staying in at QB and Cade Carney deciding to unleash the beast.  That first little while, though, it was looking like it was going to be ugly.

Some Questionable Fourth Down Decisions. Late in the first half, game tied 7-7, Wake Forest had a 4th and 6 on the Duke 39 and Dom punted for a touchback, a net change of 20 yards.  Then, early in the 4th, Wake had a 4th and 4, up 21-14 on the Duke 27, at which point we went for it, Kendall's pass was popped up and picked.  Now, in the latter case, it didn't end up mattering much with regards to field position, but why would we not kick the field goal there and go up by 10?  Usually I applaud aggressiveness, but there I'm not so sure.  From the 29 wouldn't be a gimme, but it's certainly not too hard of a shot.

Not Enough Diversity In Passing Game. I'm not going to be too salty given how well our rush attack was working, but we need to work in more screens, targets for tight ends (Cam Serigne says hello) and other short passes designed for short gains or big gains off of YAC.  We're getting there, but keep mixing it up, offense.  PLEASE.  If we do this, we could be in business!

The Bottom Line

389 yards of offense.  24 points.  Three forced turnovers, including one to ice the game.  Seemingly a firm starter at QB.  A conference win on the road over an in-state rival.  A 2-0 record, 1-0 in conference.  If today was any indication, our bowl chances just got a HECK of a lot better, and today honestly defied all of my expectations.  Keep Kendall the starter.  Get our dinged up guys healthy.  Beat Delaware (for the love of God beat Delaware).  Mix up the playbook some more.  Do those things, fellas, and the #aWAKEning might just become a reality.  Awesome, awesome win.

On to the next.  Go Deacs.

--SF