HALFTIME: Duke 9, Boston College 0

Saturday's Homecoming game was touted as a battle of defenses, and so far Duke has done its part to live up to those expectations.

The Blue Devils lead Boston College 9-0 at Wallace Wade Stadium after two quarters of play. The Eagles entered the game with the best pass defense in the country, but Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk completed 10-of-18 passes for 138 yards to help the Blue Devils move the ball effectively through the air on a couple of long drives.

Boston College and Duke traded quick three-and-outs on their first four possessions of the contest. After the Blue Devils’ second stalled drive, punter Will Monday was able to pin the Eagles on the 15-yard line, where the defense held Boston College to yet another three-and-out. Eagle quarterbacks have yet to complete a pass, as Troy Flutie and Jeff Smith are a combined 0-of-9.

The Duke offense finally found success on its third possession, as Sirk found true freshman T.J. Rahming through the air for a 26-yard gain. Sirk followed that up with a quick 18-yard pass to redshirt junior Jela Duncan to put the Blue Devils in the red zone, where Ross Martin hit a 36-yard field goal to put the Blue Devils up 3-0 late in the first quarter. Read more »

Chronicle Pregame: Duke football vs. Boston College

The Chronicle's Ryan Hoerger and Brian Mazur preview Saturday's Homecoming game between Duke and Boston College at Wallace Wade Stadium. A pair of 3-1 teams boasting strong defenses will collide in the wet conditions in Durham, with the Eagles needing to replace the lost production of starting running back Jon Hilliman and quarterback Darius Wade.

Stay with the Blue Zone for all your pregame, in-game and postgame coverage of the Blue Devils and Eagles. Read more »

Week 4: Quick Hits from Lunch with Cut

Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly press conference Tuesday, addressing Duke’s 34-20 victory against Georgia Tech and the upcoming matchup against Boston College. The head coach touched on several topics including the Blue Devil’s defensive success and Johnell Barnes’ ejection from the Georgia Tech game. Duke (3-1) faces the Eagles (3-1) Saturday at 3:30 p.m at Wallace Wade Stadium. Here are some of the more notable sound bytes from Cutcliffe’s press conference:

The Eagles’ biggest strength is their defense. Boston College leads the nation in fewest yards surrendered and ranks second in points allowed. Led by defensive lineman Harold Landry, the Boston College defenders are athletic and show many different looks and disguises to confuse oppose offenses.

“This Boston College team…is really something to watch. They’ve only given up two touchdowns in four games. They’re big. They’re a well-oiled machine. They do a lot of things on defense. They defend every aspect. They have great run defense, but they also have a great pass defense. We’re coming off a game that was physical. We’re going into another game that’s physical. They’re a very very well-coached football team.”

Towards the end of the Georgia Tech game, junior wide receiver Johnell Barnes was called for a targeting penalty and ejected, forcing him to sit out the first half against the Eagles. The Blue Devils will look for redshirt freshman Chris Taylor, true freshman T.J. Rahming and junior Ryan Smith to fill the void. Cutcliffe is optimistic that his squad can benefit from Barnes’ absence in the first half. Read more »

Behind Enemy Lines: Duke football vs Boston College

Before every football game this year, The Blue Zone will sit down with a football writer from the opposing school’s student newspaper to get the scoop on their team and season.

This week, The Chronicle’s Nick Martin spoke to the The Heights’ sports editor Michael Sullivan about this Saturday’s clash between Boston College and the Blue Devils.

The Chronicle: In reviewing Boston College, it doesn’t take one long to realize just how good the defense has been for this team. Although the offense couldn’t manage to score, the Eagles held No. 9 Florida State to 14 points and currently rank No. 2 in the nation in points allowed. That being said, we’re still at the point in the season where it’s hard to tell whether or not an unit is elite or not. Having watched them play real games against a top-10 team and a mediocre Northern Illinois squad, tell me: is this Boston College defense for real?

The Heights: They’re real, and they’re spectacular. It’s important to note how BC has given up its points, too. Against Florida State, one of those touchdowns came off a fumble recovery—against NIU, traditionally one of the country’s best mid-majors, one touchdown came off a kickoff return and another came following an 80-yard interception return that put the Huskies at BC’s 4-yard line. Defensive coordinator Don Brown has coached up this defensive front-seven, led by sophomore Harold Landry and senior Steven Daniels, to the point where it has become almost impossible to run on them. Read more »

XFactor: Duke football vs Boston College

XFactor: Duke football vs Boston College

After rebounding from their first loss of the season with a 34-20 victory against Georgia Tech, the Blue Devils look to continue their winning ways Saturday when they take on Boston College at 3:30 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Eagles enter 3-1 on the season with their lone blemish being a hard-fought loss against No. 11 Florida State. Every week throughout the football season, we will break down a player on each team who could be the difference-maker in the upcoming contest:

Duke: wide receiver T.J. Rahming 

The freshman has been one of the team's top offensive options thus far this season having recorded 14 catches for 167 yards and a touchdown. Rahming has shown the ability to excel in the flats and make people miss on screen and bubble passes. On occasions, the freshman has also flashed his game-breaking speed and beat defenders deep. 

The Powder Springs, G.A., native will have an even bigger role Saturday as Johnell Barnes—the team leader in receptions and receiving yards—will be forced to sit out for a half due to his targeting penalty and ejection a week ago. Rahming has appeared to be the target quarterback Thomas Sirk has the most rapport with, but expect that to be tested this weekend. The Eagles boast one of the top defenses in the country and have allowed only an average of 72 yards through the air per game. But if Rahming can begin to find space on the edges and possibly open up the game for fellow wide receivers such as senior Max McCaffrey, the Blue Devils stand a strong chance of using their passing game to set up the run.  Read more »

Third and Goal: Duke football vs Boston College

Following last weekend’s victory against previously-ranked Georgia Tech 34-20, Duke looks to close out a strong four-game homestand at Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Boston College. The homecoming matchup will provide unique challenges for an up-and-down Duke squad. Although the Blue Devils have shown flashes of defensive brilliance against two ranked opponents, they have struggled mightily on offense which could make them vulnerable against a strong Boston College defense. Here are three vital keys to the conference battle:

Put up points in all three areas of the game 

In three victories this season, the Duke offense has hung big numbers against their opponents,  averaging 42 points per game and nearly 488 yards of total offense. But quarterback Thomas Sirk and the rest of the Blue Devil passing attack has struggled at time this season. With the Eagles' defense ranking as one of the country's best and allowing a little more than one touchdown per game so far, Duke will likely have its struggles moving the ball Saturday. Expect for the Blue Devils to continue to pound the ball on the ground with Shaquille Powell—who registered three touchdowns against the Yellow Jackets—and Jela Duncan who has returned from an early season injury. 

If Duke's defense or special teams unit can help put the offense in scoring territory or even put up some points of their own, the Blue Devil offense will have much less of a burden Saturday. Duke has already received two kickoff return touchdowns from safety DeVon Edwards this season and will look for their dynamic return man to help flip the field for them on special teams. Defensively, the Blue Devils have averaged nearly a turnover per contest and will look to force more Boston College miscues to support the team's offense.  Read more »

Duke in the MLB: Stroman lifts Jays to division crown

Former Duke ace Marcus Stroman and the Toronto Blue Jays had to wait an extra day to clinch their first American League East title since 1993 after a rainout Tuesday. But the suspense didn’t last long during Wednesday’s makeup game against the Baltimore Orioles. Stroman pitched eight strong innings, giving up just one run on five hits with eight strikeouts, and his lineup gave him more than enough support in the team's 15-2 rout. Following the game, it seemed as if the former Blue Devil was more than pleased with his performance. 

By winning their division, Toronto will avoid the pressure-packed one-game wild card playoff and began preparation for the American League Division Series. 

Stroman was widely expected to miss the entire season when he tore his ACL in February, but he made a quick recovery and has won all four of his starts with an ERA of 1.67 since his return. The Medford, N.Y., native's next start will likely be in Game 2 of the American League Division Series next weekend—assuming the Blue Jays ace David Price starts Game 1—against an opponent yet to be determined. Price and Stroman form a dynamic duo atop the team's playoff rotation to go along with the best offense in baseball, making Toronto a favorite to win the World Series heading into the postseason. Read more »

Stock Watch: Duke football defense stands strong; weather dampens weekend

The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has just rung again, meaning it's time to take another look at who is rising and falling with their performances for Blue Devil sports teams. Each week. The Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the world of Duke athletics: 

Bull Market—Trending Up

The “D”: With Georgia Tech bringing quarterback Justin Thomas and their vaunted triple option offense to town this weekend, many expected a rough day for the Duke defense. But the Yellow Jackets rushed for just 173 yards as a team, breaking a streak of 17 straight games where the team picked up at least 200 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Thomas had just six completions among 21 pass attempts.

The combination of Dwayne Norman and Jeremy Cash dominated all day with a combined 21 tackles, and cornerback Breon Borders intercepted a Thomas pass early in the fourth quarter. With Georgia Tech trailing by six with less than three minutes to go, Britton Grier recovered a Thomas fumble to all but wrap up a win for the Blue Devils in their first ACC matchup of the season. Read more »

Three Duke football defenders receive ACC Player of the Week honors

Three Duke football defenders receive ACC Player of the Week honors

The Blue Devils only received 18 votes in the AP Poll following their upset victory against then-No. 20 Georgia Tech Saturday, but the individual accolades are beginning to pile up quickly.

Three Duke defenders garnered ACC Player of the Week recognition at their respective positions, a day after safety Jeremy Cash nabbed National Defensive Player of the Week honors. Cash earned the ACC Player of the Week nod for defensive backs, and fellow secondary mate DeVon Edwards took home the specialist award. Junior defensive tackle A.J Wolf completed the honored trio for the Blue Devils with the defensive lineman of the week recognition.

Cash turned in a fantastic performance against the Yellow Jackets and was a key factor in limiting their triple-option rushing attack to less than three yards per carry. The redshirt senior led the team with 12 tackles—including three for loss—and also filled out his stat sheet with four quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles and one sack. This week marks the fourth time in Cash's career he has been awarded the ACC weekly honor.

Edwards' 100-yard kickoff return touchdown Sunday was one of the game's most exciting plays, and turned the tide decisively in Duke's favor. After Georgia Tech marched down the field and scored a touchdown to cut the Blue Devil lead to six midway through the third quarter, Edwards took the ensuing kickoff and burst up the seam, dashing almost untouched into the end zone. The return was the second of the season for the Covington, Ga., native, and the fifth return touchdown of his career. Read more »