October 23, 2012

Know your opponent: Duke

2012 Record: 6-2 (3-1 ACC)

Starters returning: 16 total, eight offensive and eight defensive.

Thanks to last weekend's last-second win over North Carolina Duke Blue Devils are bowl eligible season for the first time since 1994. With a 3-1 conference record, Duke sits atop the Coastal Division standings.

Trailing UNC by four points, Duke QB Sean Renfree connected with Jamison Crowder for a five-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left for a 33-30 win.

In his fifth season, head coach David Cutcliffe has completely transformed the program. From 2000-2007 Duke had zero season with five wins or more, this is the second such season under Cutcliffe.

FSU is 17-0 all-time against Duke, leaving the Blue Devils as the lone team in the ACC without a win over the Seminoles.

"We've got a great Duke team coming in," Fisher said. "6-2, leading the other side. Moving the ball very well, playing good defense, great special teams. Punter's number one in the league, 45-yard average, only 12 balls returned on him all year, so they're winning the field position battle."

Through the air

Player to watch:

QB Sean Renfree (R-Sr.)

2012 Passing: 164-237 for 1,793 yards, 11 TDs and seven interceptions

With an average of 289.4 yards passing per game Duke ranks second in the ACC, behind only Clemson's offense. Renfree is having a tremendous senior campaign, completing 69.2 percent of his passes.

Anthony Boone has already proved to be a more-than-capable backup behind Renfree, who missed the Virginia game with an injury. Boone has played in all eight games this season, completing 60.5 percent of his passes for 494 yards, five touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Duke's top target Conner Vernon is the school's all-time leading receiver, and needs just 94 yards to pass Peter Warrick for the most receiving yards in ACC history. This season he has hauled in 51 receptions for 749 yards and five touchdowns. Vernon averages 14.7 yards per catch.

Opposite of Vernon, Crowder is also having a great year. He has 51 receptions for 629 yards and five touchdowns. Desmond Scott is also a big part of the Duke passing attack, with 43 receptions for 437 yards and a touchdown.

"Conner Vernon, Renfree, and Crowder all do a great job in the receiving part of it so we'll have out hands full," Fisher said.

Pounding the ground

Player to watch:

RB Jela Duncan (Fr.)

2012 Rushing: 68 rushes for 339 yards and 3 TDs

Running the ball is not the Blue Devils' strength. The team averages just 126.5 yards per game, and measly 3.6 yards per carry. True freshman Jelea Duncan leads the team with 339 yards rushing and is averaging five yards per touch. He also has the team's longest run from scrimmage, a 58-yard rush against.

Senior Juwan Thompson is listed as the starter at tailback. He has 273 yards rushing on 58 attempts, with one score. Josh Snead also gets into the mix with 57 rushing attempts for 265 yards and two touchdowns.

When in the game Boone also bring a running dynamic from the QB position. The redshirt sophomore has run for 73 yards and two scores this season.

"Offensively they're throwing the ball very well," Fisher said. "In the last game they ran the ball very well, had about 200 yards rushing against North Carolina. They've been throwing it mainly but then got the running game going last week."

Getting defensive

Player to watch:

CB Ross Cockrell (R-Jr.)

2012 Stats: 43 tackles, four for loss, 1 sack, 4 interceptions and 14 passes defended

Duke has struggled defensively this season, giving up an average of 396.5 yards per game. Through the air the Blue Devils are giving up 243.3 yards per game, and 153.1 yards per game on the ground.

Still despite giving up so many yards, Fisher said Duke has done a good job minimizing big plays.

"Doing a great job not giving up big plays, make you go the long way," Fisher. "Big physical guys along the defensive front."

Duke's defensive line has done a good job getting into opposing team's backfields with 44 tackles for loss, and 19 sacks.

6-foot-5, 260-pound Redshirt senior defensive end Kenny Anunike has recorded 31 tackles this season, a team-high six for loss and a team-high five sacks.

Safety Walt Canty is having a good senior season, with a team-high 74 tackles, including 5.5 for loss. Fellow safties Jordan Byas (48 tackles, four for loss and two interceptions) and Brandon Braxton (35 tackles, 1.5 for loss) have also had good seasons for Duke.

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