Blue Zone

The Devil's in the Details: Week of Sept. 19

They say the devil is in the details. But in Durham, the Blue Devils are in the details—and numbers.

Each week, the Blue Zone will dissect five key stats from last week's action in Duke sports, whether they be historic or underwhelming. This week, let the numbers take you inside a thrilling victory over rival UNC in football and continued success in soccer and field hockey. 


Saturday afternoon’s showdown with North Carolina was an eventful one for the Blue Devils. In addition to Duke retaining control of the Victory Bell after defeating the Tar Heels 27-17, the win also marked the 100th of the Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe’s illustrious career. Cutcliffe—who took over the program in 2008—now has 56 wins at Duke and currently ranks third on Duke Football's all-time win list behind Wallace Wade and Bill Murray who respectively have 110 and 93 victories.

Find out the whole story'A people business': David Cutcliffe reflects on what 100th win means to his career 


After taking a 20-17 lead with 6:09 remaining in the game on a one-yard touchdown plunge by running back Shaun Wilson, Duke needed a defensive stop in order to secure the victory. On third-and-12 from the Duke 44-yard line, the Blue Devils got pressure on North Carolina quarterback Chazz Surratt, who threw a misguided, desperate two-handed pass into the waiting hands of Duke cornerback Bryon Fields Jr. With an open field in front of him, Fields returned the interception for 61 yards and sealed the fate of the game.

Find out the whole storyFIELDS DAY: Redshirt senior's late pick 6 seals Duke win in Chapel Hill


Duke women’s soccer won two more contests this week and extended its program-record winning streak to 10 games. Friday, the No. 4 Blue Devils shutout No. 18 Notre Dame 3-0 on the road before coming home Sunday and sending the streak to double digits with a 2-0 victory over Pittsburgh at Koskinen Stadium. Goalie EJ Proctor brought her career goals against average down to 0.7—best in program history—with four saves over the two games. If not for a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss to then-No. 6 North Carolina to open the season, Duke would be undefeated today at 11-0-0.

Find out the whole story—Perfect 10: Duke women's soccer's win streak hits double digits with Sunday shutout AND Duke women's soccer sets program record with ninth straight win, shuts out Notre Dame


For the fifth time this season—out of eight games—Duke field hockey held its opponent off the scoreboard with a 3-0 shutout of Old Dominion at Williams Field Sunday. The No. 2 Blue Devils—which boast a top-three defense in goals against average at 0.7—have let up a mere two goals in their seven victories this season. While goalkeeper Sammi Steele has been a force in the cage—with the nation's sixth-best save percentage of 0.813—she only had to make one save against the Monarchs Sunday thanks to the defensive efforts of her team as a whole.

Find out the whole story—Duke field hockey shuts out Old Dominion to close homestand


After narrowly falling 2-1 to then-No. 8 North Carolina Sept. 16 in its only previous matchup against a ranked opponent this season, the Duke men’s soccer team showed it could compete with the best during a 2-1 road victory over No. 11 Syracuse Friday. In a hard-fought physical battle, goals from Brian White and Markus Fjørtoft gave Duke a 2-0 lead, which it was able to hold onto—despite 13 shots from the opposing side—thanks four huge saves from freshman goalkeeper Will Pulisic.

Find out the whole story—Thriller at No. 11 Syracuse gives Duke men's soccer first ranked win of season

Around the ACC: Week 4

Two big upsets, North Carolina State's victory against No. 12 Florida State and Virginia's win against Boise State, shook up the picture in the ACC heading into the heart of the conference season. 

Duke 27, North Carolina 17

The Victory Bell will remain in Durham after the Blue Devils held on to win against the rival Tar Heels in Chapel HIll on Saturday. The Duke offense was slow throughout the game, but got a big boost from its defense when Byron Fields Jr. picked off a bad throw from North Carolina quarterback Chazz Surratt and returned it for a touchdown to put the Blue Devils up 27-17 late in the fourth quarter. Duke's defense was stingy for most of the game but let Surratt break free for a few big plays, including a 45-yard touchdown pass at the end of the second half and a 56-yard run to give North Carolina the lead late in the third quarter. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones finished with 202 yards and one touchdown and the Blue Devils outrushed the Tar Heels 186-118 to help hold on for the victory. Duke now sits at 4-0 after its first conference win against its biggest rival while North Carolina falls to 1-3 and 0-2 in the ACC.

No 2. Clemson 34, Boston College 7

Clemson struggled early on against a weak Eagles team, only scoring seven points in the first half and being tied up late in the third. Deshaun Watson's replacement at quarterback, Kelly Bryant, threw for just 140 yards passing and two interceptions. But the Tigers bounced back in the fourth and put four touchdowns up on the board.  

North Carolina State 27, No. 12 Florida State 21

The upset of the week in college football was the Wolfpack's dethroning of the Seminoles. North Carolina state quarterback Ryan Finley led the way for the Wolfpack with 22 completions on 32 attempts, 230 yards passing and two touchdowns. Saturday marked the first road win against a ranked team for North Carolina State since 2008. The Wolfpack moved to 3-1 while the Seminoles fell to 0-2 after having two games either postponed or cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. 

No. 13 Virginia Tech 38, Old Dominion 0

Virginia Tech made easy work of Old Dominion this weekend, with quarterback Josh Jackson leading the way with 298 yards and three touchdowns. Old Dominion stood no chance against the No. 13 Hokies and looked overpowered, outgained 582-149. The Hokies now move to 4-0 and are tied for the best record in the ACC as they into conference play.

No. 14 Miami 52, Toledo 30

Toledo fought for all they could in the first half and even went into the break with a 16-10 lead. But Miami turned on the jets and pulled away, scoring 42 points in the second half alone. The Hurricane offense was led by star running back Mark Walton, who racked up 204 yards on just 11 carries. Quarterback Malik Rosier also  shone with 333 yards passing and four total touchdowns, one of which came on the ground and put the game out of reach late. 

No 19. Louisville 42, Kent State 3

In an easy win over the Golden Flashes, No. 19 Louisville and star quarterback Lamar Jackson flashed their potential. Jackson had 299 yards passing and two touchdowns through the air and added on 34 yards rushing and another touchdown. After Saturday’s game, Jackson set the Louisville career record for most touchdowns accounted for with eight games left in the regular season. 

No. 25 LSU 35, Syracuse 26

As the only ACC team to lose to a nonconference opponent, Syracuse couldn’t complete the comeback and defeat the No. 25 Tigers. The Orange appeared to have a chance late in the game after pulling within two with just under six minutes left to play, but LSU's offense was too much for Syracuse—the Tigers ended up adding onto their lead with a late 20-yard touchdown run from running back D.J. Clark to seal the win. Syracuse now sits at 2-2 while the Tigers move up to 3-1 with the win on Saturday.

Georgia Tech 35, Pittsburgh 17

Georgia Tech cruised to its first conference win against Pittsburgh with the help of running back KirVonte Benson, who ran for a career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback TaQuon Marchall also had an impressive game on the ground, with 112 yards and two touchdowns of his own. The Panthers' offense couldn’t really do much Saturday as starting quarterback, Ben Dinucci only had 110 yards before being replaced with backup quarterback Max Browne, who only threw for 88 yards.

Wake Forest 20, Appalachian State 19

Wake Forest barely escaped with a win against Appalachian State after an intense few seconds towards the end of the game. The Mountaineers had a last-second field goal try to win the game, but the Demon Deacons blocked it to hold on for the win. Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb accounted for 372 yards passing and two touchdowns, outperforming Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford, who had just 176 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Virginia 42, Boise State 23

In the only ACC game played on Friday, the Cavaliers came away with a big win at Boise State, handing the Broncos their worst home loss in sixteen years. Quarterback Kurt Benkert threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns and running back Jordan Ellis ran for 93 yards and two touchdowns, helping Virginia move to 3-1. 

Extra point: Duke football vs. North Carolina

Down 17-13 entering the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils mounted a comeback against rival North Carolina to win  27-17 and capture the Victory Bell for the second consecutive year. Cornerback Byron Fields Jr. sealed the game with an interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth.

Revisiting the three keys to the game: 

  • Limit Chazz Surratt. For the most part, the Blue Devils did a good enough job of limiting the former Duke commit, but gave up several big plays, including a 47-yard flea flicker to Austin Proehl early in the game as well as a 56-yard touchdown rush in the third quarter. Duke did stop Surratt when it needed to, though, intercepting him and returning it 61 yards to seal the game late in the fourth quarter.
  • Strong Blue Devil offense. For the second straight week, Duke was unspectacular on offense. Without strong pass protection, Daniel Jones completed 18-of-34 attempts for 202 yards and a touchdown, giving him a merely passable 48.0 QBR. The Blue Devil rushing game was better though—Brittain Brown picked up 90 yards on only 10 carries, and Shaun Wilson rushed for 56 yards and a score. As a team, Duke rushed for 186 yards on 4.1 yards per carry, but failed to finish in the red zone. 
  • Maintain a positive attitude. For the most part, the Blue Devils stayed positive against their archival.  With under a minute remaining in the second quarter and a 10-3 lead, the Tar Heels blocked Austin Parker's short field goal try and needed just two plays to even the score at 10-10. For most of the third quarter, Duke seemed deflated, and faced a 17-13 deficit heading into the fourth quarter.  But Duke eventually picked itself up to fight back with a long drive to take the lead and Fields Jr.'s game-sealing interception return for a touchdown.  

Three Key Plays:

  • 0:22 remaining, second quarter: Just when Duke looked like it was going to take a two-possession lead over UNC, the Tar Heels blocked Parker's attempt, converting the turnover into a touchdown in 13 seconds  to tie it up.
  • 6:09 remaining, fourth quarter: To take the lead late in the game, Shaun Wilson powered the ball over the goal line to give the Blue Devils a second wind on defense. The play came on the heels of a long Brown rush that sparked the rest of the drive. 
  • 4:01 remaining, fourth quarter: With the Tar Heels threatening to tie or take the lead down just three points, Fields Jr. intercepted a Surratt pass attempt and returned it 61 yards to put the nail in the coffin.

Three Key Stats: 

  • 261 yards all season: Through only four games, Duke’s defense has allowed only 261 yards on the ground, or 65.25 yards per game. This stifling defense has propelled the Blue Devils to go undefeated thus far.
  • Jeremy McDuffie records 10 tackles: Jeremy McDuffie led the Blue Devils defense, racking up ten tackles, six of which were solo.
  • David Cutcliffe records career win No. 100:  Cutcliffe hit the century mark Saturday, reaching the milestone in the sweetest possible way: a comeback against the rival Tar Heels.

And the Duke game ball goes to… Byron Fields, Jr.

Could it go to anybody else? With his first career interception, Byron Fields, Jr. brought the ball back 61 yards to seal the game in enemy territory. To add to his pick-six, Fields, Jr. also recorded four solo tackles for the Blue Devils.

And the North Carolina game ball goes to… Chazz Suarratt

Despite giving the ball away in the most crucial moment in the game, Suarratt recorded 336 yards and two touchdowns for the Tar Heels. Averaging 8.1 yards per attempt in the air and 4.5 yards per carry on the ground, Suarratt kept UNC in the game until the very end.

Chronicle postgame: Duke football vs. North Carolina

The Blue Devils moved to 4-0 by beating North Carolina. The win was powered by tough defense and a clutch drive midway through the fourth quarter by an offense that had a tough time finishing drives otherwise. The Chronicle's Ben Leonard and Michael Model break down the win and look ahead to next Friday when No. 14 Miami comes to town.

Making the Grade: Duke football vs. North Carolina

The Blue Devils moved to 4-0 thanks to a strong defensive performance and some clutch offensive plays. Despite the defense's relative dominance against a good North Carolina offense, Duke continued to struggle in the red zone on offense, settling for field goals multiple times.

Offense: B

Pass: Daniel Jones had another uneven performance behind center coming off last week’s win over Baylor. The redshirt sophomore threw for 202 yards and a touchdown, but only completed 52.9% of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the year. His touchdown pass came on a 28 yard pass to a wide open Davis Koppenhaver who strolled into the end zone easily. The North Carolina defensive backs did a good job blanketing Duke’s receivers, often leaving Jones to fit the ball into tight angles. 

Rush: The Blue Devil rushers had another strong game, posting 186 yards in 45 carries. Brittain Brown was the main threat, running for 90 yards including a 38-yard burst on Duke’s first touchdown drive. Brown was injured though late in the first half and although he later returned, Shaun Wilson took over as the workhorse back. The senior ground out just 56 yards, but scored the crucial go ahead touchdown with six minutes left.

X’s and O’s: The Blue Devils put up 388 yards of total offense, but had multiple drives stall out in the red zone and were forced to kick short field goals. Red zone offense has been an issue for Duke all year long and one that will need to be addressed by the time Miami comes to town on Friday.

Defense: A-

Pass: Tar Heel starting quarterback Chazz Surratt threw for 259 yards and a touchdown as well as an interception. The Blue Devils struggled to contain receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams who finished with 125 yards receiving and a touchdown on just five receptions. Byron Fields Jr.’s interception return for a touchdown though quashed North Carolina’s comeback attempt and sealed the win for Duke.

Rush: The Blue Devil rush defense was on point for most of the afternoon except for one 56-yard touchdown run by Surratt when he escaped the pocket. The Tar Heel running backs found little room all day as the defensive line did a great job getting penetration into the backfield and closing running lanes. 

X’s and O’s: Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles dialed up a heavy amount of pressure and it paid off with four sacks and heavy pressure on the game sealing interception.

Special Teams: B

It was a largely uneventful game for the special teams unit. Kicker Austin Parker knocked in two short field goals although he had a short kick blocked right before halftime. He did make all three of his extra point attempts on the day. 

Ratliff-Williams escaped containment on one kickoff return, getting it 24 yards up the field, but other than that the North Carolina return game was held quiet with just one punt return on the day as the Blue Devils did a good job getting down the field and forcing fair catches. 

HALFTIME: Duke 10, North Carolina 10

Bitten by the big play bug once again, Duke enters the locker room without the lead after controlling play for most of the half.

A two-play, 80-yard North Carolina touchdown drive in the final 30 seconds of the first half tied the game at 10-10 through 30 minutes at Kenan Memorial Stadium. The Tar Heels have averaged just 1.3 yards per carry and have been sacked three times, but three big passing plays have kept them in the game.

After looking lost on offense in the early going, North Carolina quarterback Chazz Surratt burned the Blue Devil defense with a 47-yard flea flicker to Austin Proehl, giving the Tar Heels a golden red-zone opportunity to seize the momentum and put the first points on the board. 

But on third down from Duke’s 10-yard line, defensive lineman Mike Ramsey got to Surratt for his second sack of the game to force North Carolina to settle for a 34-yard field goal and help the Blue Devils seize the momentum. 

On its next drive after the big stop, Duke seized the momentum and needed just three plays to find the end zone, using a 38-yard rush from Brittain Brown and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Davis Koppenhaver to take a 7-3 lead. 

Duke’s offensive line struggled mightily with pass blocking in the early going, leaving Jones uncomfortable in the pocket and with a Tar Heel defender’s hand in his face on his first four dropbacks. But some adjustments by Cutcliffe to work quicker passes into Jones' repertoire helped matters, allowing Jones and Duke’s offense to break free. On their next drive, the Blue Devils drove 12 plays for 66 yards to nail a 27-yard field goal and take a 10-3 lead with 8:38 remaining in the second quarter. 

After another three-and-out, Duke missed an opportunity in the red zone, with Austin Parker getting a 24-yard field goal blocked, and North Carolina was not content to carry a seven-point deficit into the break. Surratt completed two deep play action passes to Anthony Ratliff-Williams to complete a 10-point swing in the half's final minute.

Duke’s rushing attack has continued to succeed, totaling 119 yards on 24 attempts to help buoy an offense that has been somewhat limited in the passing game by its offensive line play. Brown has been particularly explosive, gaining 75 yards on just six carries, while Wilson has totaled 36 yards on 12 carries, but Brown went to the locker room after a late injury.

Here are some observations from the first half: 

  • Proehl was injured after his big catch and appears to be out for the game, coming out of the locker room without his jersey on.
  • Tops in the nation in yards allowed heading into Saturday, Duke’s rushing defense has once again forced its opponent into a one-dimensional offense. 
  • North Carolina’s front seven came out strong against Jones, but has been unable to be as effective against Duke’s rushing attack. 
  • The Blue Devils have continued to play clean football, penalized just once for five yards. 

Third and goal: Duke football vs. North Carolina

After an up-and-down performance against Baylor in a 34-20 win, Duke will travel to Chapel Hill to take on their archrival, the North Carolina Tar Heels. North Carolina will be looking for redemption after getting upset 28-27 at Wallace Wade Stadium last year. Here are three keys to Saturday's contest: 

Limit Chazz Surratt

A former 2015 Duke commit who ultimately elected to go to North Carolina, Surratt is a redshirt freshman who has excelled for the Tar Heels this season. Surratt has thrown for 586 yards and completed 46 of 66 throws, including four passing touchdowns, in the past three games he’s played. In the Tar Heels’ 53-23 win against Old Dominion last week, the dual-threat Denver, N.C. native also contributed two rushing touchdowns. The Blue Devil defense was a shining point last week again Baylor, giving the offense plenty of opportunities to pull away. With linebacker Ben Humphrey leading the team on defense alongside Joe Giles-Harris, who leads the team with 13 solo tackles and 13 assisted tackles, the Blue Devils look strong defensively against an up-and-coming quarterback like Surratt, but still face a difficult task in slowing him. 

Strong Blue Devil offense

The Duke offense needs to step up and bounce back from last week’s performance to be able to compete with an effective North Carolina offense. The undefeated Blue Devils have been led by redshirt sophomore Daniel Jones, who has had an incredible start to the season and has been a vital asset to the offense. Against Northwestern, the  signal-caller passed for over 300 years and ran for over 100, with two rushing touchdowns after a strong performance against North Carolina Central. But the second-year starer had an off week against Baylor, throwing for a season-low 186 yards and a red-zone interception. The offensive line struggled against Baylor as well, letting Jones get sacked five times. Although the Tar Heels' defense isn't stellar, the offensive line will have to regain its form to help Jones and Duke keep up with North Carolina's high-flying offense. 

Maintain a positive attitude

As with any game against their arch rival, Duke has to be mentally prepared to take on North Carolina, as the intense rivalry can sometimes become a mental block and affect play. Not only does Surratt’s image as “the one who got away” from Duke make the matchup more intense, but Duke’s desire to hold onto the Victory Bell weighs on the mind of a football team that is constantly overshadowed. With Duke besting North Carolina only four times since 1990, and three of those wins coming in the last five years, Duke’s want to hold onto the Bell after a thrilling 28-7 victory over the Tar Heels at home is stronger than ever. However, if the pressure of playing their rivals, along with keeping the Bell in Durham, overcomes Duke they could be in trouble on Tar Heels turf.

X Factor: Duke football vs. North Carolina

During the quest to keep the Victory Bell in Durham, the Blue Devils will look to match their win total from last season. As always, there will be bad blood between the Tobacco Road rivals in Duke’s first road and ACC contest of the season.

Every week throughout the football season, the Blue Zone will break down a player on each team who could be the difference-maker in the upcoming contest.

Duke: Wide Receiver T.J. Rahming

Despite registering their third-highest scoring output in program history through three games with 135 total points, the Blue Devils’ offense looked sluggish at times in last week’s 34-20 victory against Baylor. Quarterback Daniel Jones did not throw for a touchdown, and his wide receivers did not help. But the unit will get a golden opportunity for redemption Saturday against a hurting Tar Heel defense that has let up more than 323 yards per game through the air, with junior wideout T.J. Rahming in the spotlight.

Like most players involved in the passing game, Rahming did not perform up to his standards against the Bears, as he caught just four passes for 28 yards while dropping a couple of passes. But Rahming has proven more than capable—especially against North Carolina, as he registered 100 yards on eight receptions in last season’s 28-27 upset victory—and is Jones’ favorite target on the outside. If Rahming can get going, especially as a downfield threat, it may be all downhill for the Tar Heels’ porous defense.

North Carolina: Quarterback Chazz Surratt

Redshirt freshman starting quarterback Chazz Surratt—who at one point was supposed to be a Blue Devil—has had little issue adjusting to the collegiate level so far. After beating out Louisiana State graduate transfer Brandon Harris as the chief signal-caller, Surratt led North Carolina to a 53-23 romp at Old Dominion for its first win of the season. Although Surratt did not start the Tar Heels’ first two contests, the Denver, N.C., native still played the majority of the snaps and has thrown for four touchdowns and rushed for three more to start off his 2017 season.

The dual-threat quarterback will face one of the nation’s statistically best defenses, though, and will have to find ways to maintain a steady ground attack against a Duke unit ranked first in the nation in rushing defense, allowing fewer than 48 yards per game. Although Surratt can do more than enough damage in the passing game, he does not have as many weapons with stars Ryan Switzer and Bug Howard’s eligibility exhausted and will have to create positive-yardage plays on first and second down to keep the Blue Devil defense guessing.


Film room: North Carolina

Every week, the Blue Zone takes you inside the video room and breaks down a key piece, player or unit for the Blue Devils’ opponent. Freshman quarterback Chazz Surratt and his shifty receivers are under the microscope in this week’s edition of film room: 

One thing’s for sure: North Carolina can’t stop anything on defense. 

But even a year after losing nearly 90 percent of its total offense, the Tar Heels can still make big passing plays—something Duke will need to limit if it wants to take home the Victory Bell. 

North Carolina ranks fifth in the nation against Power Five teams in explosive passing plays thus far—not an encouraging sign for a Blue Devil defense that has struggled with letting up big plays in recent years. A season ago, Duke was 122nd in the nation in 20-plus yard receptions allowed, and though it has been stingier this season in that regard, the only team it has played so far with big-play potential, Baylor, still gained 238 of its 263 passing yards on just five plays. 

For the second week in a row, the Blue Devils will face an inexperienced quarterback, this time redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt. The 2015 Gatorade North Carolina player of the year hasn’t gotten much support from his defense, which ranks dead last among Power Five teams in yards allowed, but he has kept the Tar Heel offense chugging while beating out LSU graduate transfer Brandon Harris for the job. 

A dual-threat quarterback, Surratt’s style is in stark contrast with that of last year’s pocket passer and Chicago Bears’ No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. Certainly, there were some questions about whether Surratt would have the tools around him to succeed after four of the top five North Carolina receivers departed following last season, including quick and elusive All-ACC receiver Ryan Switzer. 

But North Carolina certainly has the playmakers to help Surratt, starting with receiver Austin Proehl. 

The 5-foot-10 senior receiver wasn’t an elite prospect coming out of high school, but boasts the elusivity that could give Duke’s secondary fits. Despite playing with five current NFL pass-catchers last season, Proehl was third on the team in receiving yards and has continued to stand out this season. 

Against Louisville, Proehl flashed his ability to make moves after the catch. On a first-down play in the first quarter, Proehl caught a screen behind the line of scrimmage and immediately had three defenders in his face. But he found a way to squirt around all of them without ever being touched, making his way forward for a 14-yard gain on what should have been a loss. 

Spearheaded by track star safety Jeremy McDuffie, the Blue Devil secondary has the speed to keep up with fast receivers, but sometimes struggles with tackling in the open field—something Proehl could expose. 

Although North Carolina’s offense doesn’t ask Surratt to make many difficult throws, he can when called upon. Early in the second quarter against the Cardinals, Surratt stayed strong with his footwork in the pocket and delivered a 37-yard strike to receiver Thomas Jackson, dropping the ball just over the defender’s head and into Jackson’s hands with precise touch. 

The Tar Heels don’t have burners at receiver, but Surratt doesn’t necessarily need them to succeed. North Carolina’s offense scored eight points more per game under dual-threat signal-caller Marquise Williams in 2015—it thrives with a quarterback that can improvise and run the football consistently. 

With Surratt at the helm, it’s on roughly the same pace this season—and it’s easy to see why. The Denver, N.C., native and former Duke commit can throw on the run and keep the Tar Heels’ offense moving at a high tempo. 

After throwing for a big gain to get close to the goal line, Surratt hurried the troops to the line, got the play off quickly, and rolled to his left. He was then able to hit his receiver in a tight window to sneak into the end zone—not a play head coach Larry Fedora would have drawn for Trubisky. 

Surratt has flashed both his improvisational and designed rushing potential, which gave him a 66-yard performance against California. Like Proehl, he thrives on his elusivity, not necessarily his elite speed—it’s rare to see him take a direct hit.

But like many freshmen, sometimes he leans too heavily on his improvisational skills when he should just take the sack and move on. On second-and-short against Louisville in the first half, Surratt dropped back and saw no receivers open downfield. Suddenly, the pocket collapsed. 

Instead of quickly taking the fall with three defensive linemen penetrating the Tar Heel front, he tried to get around them for a few seconds before letting a fumble loose when getting taken down by two Cardinals—and he might have been trying to throw it away. 

North Carolina recovered, but since Surratt ran so far backwards, North Carolina faced third-and-34 after a loss of 30 yards. 

With shifty receivers, Surratt certainly has the potential to gash Duke for big plays both with his legs and with his arm, but he struggles at times with these sorts of freshman mistakes and a general lack of accuracy on midrange throws.

Facing a merely passable Tar Heel traditional running game, the Blue Devils will likely look to dial up pressure on Surratt to force him to make mistakes. That strategy worked against Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson this season, though they were unable to slow Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech’s mobile quarterbacks last season. 

Containing Surratt and Proehl will be no easy task, but if Duke can do it, it should have little trouble with North Carolina, especially with Daniel Jones’ offense taking on a cratering Tar Heel defense. 

Duke in the NFL: Week 2

With one-eighth of the NFL season done, The Blue Zone takes a look at how some former Blue Devils in the NFL performed in Week 2.   

Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington 

With expectations riding high entering the season, Crowder was disappointing in his Week 1 performance against the rival Eagles, producing only 14 yards on three receptions and coughing up a fumble. Crowder’s performance picked up in Week 2, snagging four receptions for 47 yards against the Los Angeles Rams—the 24-year old’s lingering hip injury seemed to bother him less. Expect even bigger numbers in Week 3 as Washington takes on a mediocre Oakland Raiders secondary that ranked No. 24 in passing yards allowed last season. 

Vincent Rey, LB, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals once again fell to an AFC opponent, dropping to 0-2 on the season. But for the second week in a row, one of the Bengals’ only bright spots was Vincent Rey, who recorded eleven tackles on the day, including an assisted tackle for loss. The Bengals take on a dangerous Packers offense in Week 3, but expect Rey to continue running things for the Bengals on the defensive side.

Laken Tomlinson, LG, San Francisco 49ers

Following a trade from the Lions to the 49ers, Laken Tomlinson had been rumored to eventually start at left guard. This change happened much faster than expected, though, with Laken Tomlinson starting against the Seattle Seahawks in a nail-biting 12-9 loss. Tomlinson did his part, especially in the run game, as the 49ers gained 159 rushing yards on just 19 carries—8.4 yards per attempt. In Week 3, San Francisco faces the Los Angeles Rams, who just gave up over 229 yards rushing to the Redskins – don’t be surprised if Laken Tomlinson has another successful outing. 

Ross Cockrell, CB, New York Giants

In Ross Cockrell’s debut game with the New York Giants after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers, he recorded three tackles and defended one pass. It wasn’t a bad showing against the Matthew Stafford-led Lions, an explosive team that now wields the league’s highest-paid quarterback. Cockrell and the Giants face Carson Wentz and the Eagles in Week 3, a team that has thrown an interception in each of its two games.