Jalon Calhoun, a true freshman, and Quentin Harris, a redshirt senior, are certainly in much different phases of their careers.
But Saturday night, the tandem of the wily veteran quarterback Harris and young wide receiver Calhoun were the two that shone under the late afternoon sun, and into the night as they combined to put up career nights in Duke's 45-13 victory against North Carolina A&T.
It started late in the first quarter, when both the dynamic duo as well as the rest of the offense woke up. Harris delivered a 38-yard strike over the middle, finding Calhoun in stride as he waltzed into the end zone for Duke’s first points of the game and the first points of his college career.
“He’s just a ballplayer,” Blue Devil head coach Cutcliffe said of the prized freshman Calhoun. “He’s a guy thats going to get picked first on the playground every time.”
And whether it was to Calhoun or otherwise, redshirt senior Quentin Harris could do little wrong through the air. The Wilton, Conn., native completed 30-of-42 passes for 345 yards and four scores, leading the game in rushing as well with 83 yards on the ground. No Blue Devil has put up stats like this since the far-ago land of last season, when the now New York Giant Daniel Jones did so on a semi-regular basis. While Harris is no Jones, there is little question that Cutcliffe has molded the Blue Devil offensive leader into a seasoned quarterback, with the legs Duke fans knew he had, and the arm they are just now becoming aware of.
Calhoun, who played quarterback in high school, was present throughout the whole game, quickly becoming Harris’ favorite target and catching eight balls that came his way, the freshman cracking into the triple-digit yardage mark in only his second game at Duke.
The score that gave the Blue Devils 38 points and confirmed the rout was also his, a nifty 24-yard reception on which a check down became something special. Calhoun danced and high-stepped his way around three would-be tacklers on his way to the goal line.
"At the end of the day football is football. I just go out there and play football and be an athlete," Calhoun said. "Reading coverages and different stuff like that comes naturally to me being a quarterback coming into college."
Harris picked Calhoun on the playground repeatedly. Duke potentially found a promising connection in these two, and will likely look for the link to continue in the games to come. Though nine other receivers got to catch the pigskin tonight, it appears that the new kid on the block has the potential to become the primary target, especially if he finds himself covered by the other team’s second or third-best corner.
If the fast-paced play of these two continues into the coming weeks, expect Duke to put up a fight in nearly every game this year. Some will point to the weak defense of N.C. A&T, or even beginners' luck, but there is certainly potential for this to become a truly potent duo.
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“The best is yet to come,” Cutcliffe promised.