Duke-Navy: Blue Devils Hope to Salvage Season, Midshipmen Can Sink What's Left

Mike KlineAnalyst IOctober 28, 2010

David Cutcliffe has to find a way to get his team to generate some offense.
David Cutcliffe has to find a way to get his team to generate some offense.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It is no mystery that Duke Football is having an awful season, but there is good news.

The most difficult part of the team's schedule is now over, even though the Blue Devils will likely be underdogs in each of its remaining games.

That starts Saturday when Duke (1-6, 0-4 ACC) heads to Annapolis for what has become a  bit of a yearly rivalry with the Naval Academy.

The two schools have played some exciting and high scoring games the past few years. Navy (5-2) is riding high after a dominating performance against Notre Dame last week.

The Midshipmen are probably headed to a bowl game, while Duke is just trying to salvage something from a season which has featured the Blue Devils shooting themselves in the foot more times than not.

Duke was embarrassed last weekend getting shellacked by Virginia Tech 44-7, in what coach David Cutcliffe called a step backwards for his program.

To regain some footing on the year, the Blue Devils need to win at least two if not three more games. That is possible, but not unless they find some confidence and start playing the way they did on offense prior to the third week loss to then No. 1 Alabama.

Navy is most assuredly going to have a field day running all over Duke's young defense on Saturday. The only question is can the Blue Devils generate enough offense to keep it close where a stop or two on defense could make a difference.


Keys for Duke

Quarterback Sean Renfree has no confidence right now, and having thrown only 10 touchdowns to 15 interceptions it is easy to see why.

Duke is getting decent enough of a running game from Jay Hollingsworth, Josh Snead and Desmond Scott to keep defenses honest, but ultimately it is up to Renfree and his core of receivers to catch the ball or make good throws.

That hasn't been happening and Duke's offense has struggled. Unless Duke can generate some long sustained scoring drives, Navy will dominate time of possession and most likely the scoreboard.

If the Blue Devils can score and its defense can get a couple stops this could be anyone's game.

Keys for Navy

Navy just needs to do what Navy does—namely run the ball. There is no reason to think they will try to get fancy.

A win almost guarantees them of another bowl, an impressive feat for a team often overlooked but who is consistently good in football.

As long as Duke's offense is struggling, Navy's offense will be on the field, running the ball and clock, which should prove decisive for the Midshipmen.



Navy 38 - Duke 16

Duke's offense has shown no signs of life since scoring more than 40 points in its first two games. Turnovers have killed the Blue Devils and with a young, inexperienced defense, a triple option attack can be a brutal task to take on.

Navy will run the ball and when they get tired of that, they will run some more. Expect a quick resolution in the first quarter, with the rest of the game being filler.