Head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly press conference today. Here are some highlights from his 30-minute Q&A.
Both backs were cleared to run last week and have gotten some non-contact work in practice. In their absence, Juwan Thompson has stepped in well, scoring the first two touchdowns of his career against Tulane. Spelling Thompson, veteran Jay Hollingsworth and freshman Jamison Crowder have also been effective in their limited playing time in the backfield.
“When you run out of room to throw the football, finding a way to run the ball in [to the end zone] is going to be critical for our offensive team to be successful this year.”
Duke converted all seven of its red-zone chances against the Green Wave after converting just 4-of-10 attempts in its first three contests. Quarterback Sean Renfree and Thompson combined for four of the Blue Devils' five rushing touchdowns in the game. The balanced attack certainly caused Tulane's defense trouble as Duke scored 48 points, 27 more than its next-highest total this season.
Kenny Anunike had been the Blue Devils' best pass rusher by a long shot to start the season, recording four sacks in his first three games. He led the ACC in sacks entering Saturday's game, but unfortunately will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee. In his absence, Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo, Jamal Wallace and Dezmond Johnson will all see increased snaps and have big shoes to fill.
Brandon Connette remains sidelined with what the team is calling an "upper body injury."
There is still no time frame for the backup quarterback's return. His replacement, Anthony Boone, has made a strong case to pass Connette on the depth chart, though. Boone has gone 12-for-16 for 141 yards through the air and added 11 rushes for 30 yards and two touchdowns in his first four collegiate games. Connette has completed just 46 percent of his pass attempts in his career and holds a negative yards-per-rush-attempt average this season.