With a 34-27 victory against Wake Forest Saturday, Duke’s 4-1 start is the team’s best since its last bowl appearance in 1994. But the Blue Devils’ first win against the Demon Deacons in 13 years came at a considerable cost, with a slew of new injuries posing daunting question marks for next week’s matchup with Virginia.
Duke’s primary concern will be the health of starting quarterback Sean Renfree, who did not play in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game after injuring his right elbow. Anthony Boone replaced Renfree at quarterback and led the Blue Devils to their final 14 points and the victory. Renfree had an MRI on his right arm Sunday that did not reveal anything catastrophic, though head coach David Cutcliffe has indicated the team will proceed with extreme caution in practice this week. Renfree’s status for next weekend’s contest against Virginia remains uncertain.
“There’s really nothing conclusive. He’s had the MRI and I don’t think there’s anything significant,” Cutcliffe said. “We’re just going to be day to day. We don’t know. A lot of it is going to be how he feels. We’ll see.”
Clinging to a lead late in the game, the Blue Devils’ resilience was tested on the defensive side of the football. Duke’s defense, which had been decimated by injuries all afternoon, lost four defensive starters to injury. A large portion of the second-team defense found itself in key spots when linebacker David Helton, defensive tackle Jamal Wallace, cornerback Lee Butler and safety Brandon Braxton became the Blue Devils’ latest injury casualties. C.J. France, Tony Foster and Dwayne Norman all stepped up for injured starters in the fourth quarter.
Cutcliffe was reluctant to divulge any information on the four starters’ injury statuses, citing that Duke will participate in limited walk-throughs and film study Sunday night before resuming practice Tuesday.
“It’s too early on any of that. They’ve just gotten treatments,” Cutcliffe said. “As you know we don’t have an open date for quite some time, and our entire team is pretty physically beat up.”
The Blue Devils suffered a more permanent loss to their defensive unit this week when Cutcliffe announced in his Sunday teleconference that safety August Campbell has left the team for personal reasons. Campbell will remain enrolled as a student at Duke.
“He is in school but will not play football for personal reasons. We will just leave that at that,” Cutcliffe said.
Campbell did not practice last week and did not travel with the team to this week’s victory against Wake Forest. After battling injuries in the season’s early-going, Campbell suited up in two games for the Blue Devils, recording six tackles, including one for a loss, and recovering a fumble.