Duke Blue Devils vs Elon Phoenix Preview


The new year in Duke Blue Devils Football got off to a rocky start when the Blue Devils lost two major contributors to ACL tears. Linebacker Kelby Brown and tight end Braxton Deaver shuffered the feared injury in training camp and are out for the year. It will be Coach David Cutcliffe’s task to see if he has the right answers behind them and the first test will be tomorrow at home against the Elon Phoenix.

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Date: August 30

Time: 6:00 PM

TV: ESPN3 (Online Streaming)

Venue: Wallace Wade Stadium (Durham, NC)

Last Time: 2010, Blue Devils 41 Phoenix 27

How long ago four years can seem. At that time the key Duke connection was Sean Renfree to Conner Vernon, both of whom are trying to make NFL rosters. Elon played the Blue Devils close almost the whole way in 2010 with quarterback Scott Riddle taking the ball himself to the end zone to draw the Phoenix to within 27-20 in the fourth quarter. However, Duke pulled away at that point behind the passing of Renfree and a Jay Hollingsworth touchdown. Renfree threw for 350 yards in his first collegiate start.

Aug 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back David Sims (20) is tackled by Elon Phoenix defensive back Jeremy Gloston (17) in the first quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Elon Phoenix

Elon had a tortuous 2-10 campaign last year which led to a cleaning the slate. They fired the coaching staff and even changed conferences to the Colonial Athletic Association.

Rich Skrosky, the new coach, comes over from Ball State where worked under Pete Lembo for three years. Ball State had a particularly potent offense last year with a victory over Virginia in Charlottesville that was not close. Skrosky will be trying to bring that offensive success to Elon, though it should be noted that it took Ball State three years to bear the fruit of that offense.

If there is to be a quicker learning curve, it will be provided by fifth year senior quarterback Mike Quinn, who will minimize turnovers for the Phoenix during the transition.

The other puzzle that Elon will have to interpret is a defense that finished dead last in the Southern Conference. Hey, they can’t do that this year, no matter what. That defense is a year older, and hopefully a year better.

Prediction: Blue Devils 52-10
ONJ Season Record: (1-0) Undefeated, Baby!

Duke has too many weapons with too much senior leadership to lose this game. It doesn’t help that Elon is a rebuilding period and will probably make miscues because of the new systems. At least Duke should get to see what some of those second and third stringers look like, because they will need them in the ACC conference season.

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