Not often does a single loss have a ripple effect on a team that leads into the following year.
In Duke football's case, one loss did just that.
The loss in question has nothing to do with the final score from this past Saturday's beatdown at the hands of Georgia Tech. In that game backup quarterback Sean Renfree suffered a season-ending ACL tear.
On the surface it doesn't seem like much of a biggie for a team's backup quarterback to go down, but for Duke it was the worst loss of the season.
Namely because Renfree is slated to be the Blue Devils' starting quarterback next season.
With the average recovery and rehab time taking anywhere from six to 10 months, Renfree will certainly miss all of spring practice.
That puts Duke at a decided disadvantage in regards to the most important position on the field for a David Cutcliffe-run team.
Need further proof? Just look at this season, when senior Thad Lewis missed a significant amount of early season practice with the flu.
Despite being a senior with four years of starting experience and in his second year under Cutcliffe's tutelage, Lewis struggled out of the gate, and so did Duke.
The Blue Devils lost their season opener to Richmond, an FCS school. Granted, Richmond is a very good, if not the best FCS school, but that is still a game Duke should win.
They didn't, and so now instead of needing only one more win to become bowl eligible, the Blue Devils face the harsh realities of having to win their final two games against two good teams.
If Lewis is healthy through early practice, Duke's offense may have been more efficient in their opener and may have just pulled out a victory.
With Renfree's injury, Cutcliffe must work on developing other quarterbacks to fill the void in the event Renfree's recovery takes longer and to avoid that early season slip-up.
While the first opponent of next season has yet to be determined, it would have been nice to have a quarterback with some game experience heading into it.
As it stands now, Renfree may or may not be ready to even begin the 2010 season. For Duke, that may have been the biggest loss of all on Saturday.