It appears as if help is on the way for Duke’s struggling running game.
After being sidelined for the last four games with a knee injury, running back Cedric Dargan may be ready to play in Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech.
“I think we are going to have Cedric Dargan in limited duty this week, which would be a big shot in the arm to our offense this week,” head coach Ted Roof said Wednesday. “What role, I’m not sure. I don’t want to over do it with him this week. It’s tough to go from not playing to carrying the ball 30 times, so we won’t do that. It will be good to have him in there.”
Dargan’s return will be a welcome relief for the Blue Devil offense, which averaged 2.5 yards per carry in its first three games without the Jacksonville, N.C., native. Dargan rushed for 114 yards in 20 attempts in Duke’s season opener against Navy.
Dargan will split time with freshmen Justin Boyle and Ronnie Drummer, who rushed for 89 and 48 yards against The Citadel, respectively.
The running game will play a key role for the Duke offense—last season, tailback Chris Dougals dashed for 218 yards in a 41-17 victory over the Yellow Jackets. The Blue Devils are also coming off their best rushing performance of the season, a 191-yard day against The Citadel. Roof recently stressed, however, that the Duke offense will remain flexible Saturday.
“Some of it is going to be dictated by what we see,” Roof said.
The Blue Devil offensive line will be forced to contain Georgia Tech defensive end Eric Henderson Saturday. Henderson, who missed Georgia Tech’s first three games because of injury, was honored as the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week Monday. The Yellow Jackets recorded seven sacks in their 20-7 road victory over No. 23 Maryland and allowed a mere 81 yards from scrimmage.
Henderson, who had two tackles for loss in the game, including 1.5 sacks, recently expressed the frustration he felt last season after losing to the Blue Devils.
“The Duke game last year was pitiful,” Henderson said. “We didn’t come out and play the way we expected. I thought we came out flat-footed and they played one of the best games and the score showed. I wouldn’t say that we didn’t take them seriously because we never go into a game where we don’t take an opponent seriously. We just didn’t get the job done. We want to win every game and to get humiliated like that is a heartbreaker.”
Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey suffered similar effects.
“I remember having a sick feeling,” Gailey said. “I have a hard time rating lowness, but it was a sick feeling. That one hurt more than others. I’ll be honest with you. It did.”
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Chrissie Gorman contributed to this story.