The independent news organization of Duke University

Five observations and more from Duke football's first half against Middle Tennessee

<p>Jalon Calhoun kept up his impressive freshman campaign with a big first half Saturday.</p>

Jalon Calhoun kept up his impressive freshman campaign with a big first half Saturday.

Murfreesboro, Tenn.—Despite the defense faltering on the first drive, Duke controlled much of the first half thanks to efficient passing from Quentin Harris and gutsy play-calling. The Blue Devils lead 31-3 as they look for their second win of the season. Here are some of the key observations and stats from the first half of the Blue Devils' road opener:

Five observations

1. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe did not come all the way to Tennessee to play it safe, and that showed in the first half. On the Blue Devils' first drive, he went for it on fourth and 1 while in field goal range, converting on a dump off to tight end Noah Gray. After scoring four plays later, the Blue Devils surprised everyone with an onside-kick. Duke finished the half 2-for-2 on fourth-down conversions, both coming on drives that ended in touchdowns.

2. Freshman wideout Jalon Calhoun kept his foot on the gas after an 105-yard, two-touchdown effort last week. The South Carolina native finished the first half with five catches, 44 yards and a dazzling run after the catch for Duke's second touchdown. Calhoun caught a quick slant pass and slipped through a tackle, streaking past Blue Raider defenders for a 12-yard touchdown.

3. After going 3-for-10 on field goals in his freshman season, A.J. Reed might be the answer to the Blue Devils' recent kicking struggles. The redshirt junior connected on a 49 yard attempt in the second quarter and has now hit all three of his field goal attempts this season. His longest kick was a career-long 50-yarder against last week.

4. Despite the lead, Middle Tennessee signal caller Asher O'Hara is giving the Blue Devils fits with his ability to extend plays with his legs. The redshirt sophomore turned a sure punting situation into a field goal with a 20-yard third-down run in the first quarter and rushed for 54 yards in the half on nine attempts. If O'Hara starts looking to throw after escaping the pocket, Duke could be susceptible to giving up huge gains.

5. Jake Bobo received his first snap of the year when he checked in midway through the second quarter. The sophomore suffered a broken clavicle during training camp and was held out of the Blue Devils' first two games.

By the numbers

-20-for-22 from Harris: Many questioned Harris' passing accuracy coming into the season, especially on intermediate throws. Tonight is a different story however, as the captain torched the Blue Raiders' secondary on short and medium throws. Harris only aired the ball out down the field once in his stellar first half.

-Two catches for Ty Lee: The NCAA's active leader in career receptions was held in check in the first half by Duke's deep secondary. Lee finished with just 11 yards.

-No penalties: After having nine penalties a week ago—much to Cutcliffe's chagrin—the Blue Devils stayed disciplined.

A moment that mattered

Facing a fourth and 2 from the Middle Tennessee 39-yard line, Cutcliffe elected to go for it again, this time taking a shot down the field. Harris connected with Aaron Young for 27 yards and the wideout barely kept his feet inbounds. After video replay confirmation, the Blue Devils scored on the very next play to Calhoun.

Comments