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Thorpe Award semifinalist Jeremy McDuffie to miss rest of Duke’s season

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Duke will be forced to navigate its way through the rest of the year, however long that is, without one of its top players on the defensive side of the ball.

The football program announced Tuesday that Jeremy McDuffie suffered an injury to his right knee in this past Saturday’s win over Georgia Tech.  The junior safety will undergo surgery next Monday to repair unspecified damaged ligaments and miss what’s left of the Blue Devils’ season.

At 5-6, Duke needs to beat Wake Forest this Saturday to become bowl-eligible.  The Blue Devils missed out on a bowl game last season after going to four straight for the first time in the program’s history.

After playing in 24 games the previous two seasons, including two starts, McDuffie had started all 11 games in 2017.  His three interceptions are tied for second on the Blue Devils, while his eight quarterback hits are tied for tops on the team.

Earlier this season, McDuffie was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive back.

After taking out Duke, 8-2 Army has best record after 10 games since 1996

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Fittingly, we’ll honor one service academy’s on-field excellence as we pay tribute to our military veterans off of it.

As is the case every game, Army used a punishing ground attack to hold off Duke’s advances in a 21-16 win at West Point. The Black Knights came into today’s action leading the nation in rushing at 365.4 yards per game; the Blue Devils actually performed well in that arena, although the Knights still churned out 227 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground.

Army attempted just one pass in the game, which Ahmad Bradshaw completed for 42 yards.  It was just the team’s 57th attempt on the season; the only other team in that aerial neighborhood is 82.

The win is Army’s eighth this season versus just two losses, giving the Black Knights its best record through 10 games since the 1996 team stood at 9-1. That team, coached by Bob Sutton, is the only one in this academy’s history to finish a season with double-digit wins.

This year’s team could break the football program’s record for single-season wins with victories in each of its last three games — at North Texas, rival Navy, bowl game. As it stands now, they will play in a second straight bowl game for the first time since 1984-85.

One final historical note on what’s going down at West Point: the 16 wins for Jeff Monken‘s squads in 2016 and thus far in 2017 are the most over two seasons since those 1984-85 teams. Two more wins would give them 18, its best two-season stretch since 1945-46.

Steve Spurrier says he might coach again — at the high-school level

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We may have seen the last of the Ol’ Ball Coach roaming the sidelines after all.

In October of 2015, Steve Spurrier stunned the entire college football world by announcing that he was, in the middle of the season, retiring as the Head Ball Coach at South Carolina, effective immediately.  Since then, he’s taken a job as an ambassador at his alma mater Florida while seeing the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium field named in his honor, in addition to continuing to hone his long-running rapier wit of course.

One thing Spurrier has made clear throughout is that he is done head coaching.  Over the weekend, the Heisman Trophy-winning College Football Hall of Famer clarified that a bit (again) by stating that he would be open to coaching again at the high-school level — while reiterating one significant caveat.

“I don’t want to be a head coach. There’s too much involved with the head coach,” Spurrier said according to The State after he was honored at Duke, where he was the HBC prior to taking over in The Swamp. “If it’s a high school, or junior, well they don’t have junior highs anymore. Just high school, or somewhere there to coach quarterbacks and pitch the ball around.

“That might be something, something I want to do again. It would just have to be the right situation.”

There you go high schools, presumably somewhere in Gainesville or the Carolinas (near a golf course).  Come get you — and your players, particularly quarterbacks — some HBC knowledge.

To be fair, Spurrier is hardly plowing new ground here as, in a letter he released the December after his retirement, he stated “[w]hen I mentioned I may coach again, I meant possibly as a volunteer coach at a high school.”

“After thirty years as a head coach, I positively know that my head coaching career is finished,” he added two years ago.

Alabama and Penn State land two Jim Thorpe Award semifinalists

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Th semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award were unveiled on Monday, and it goes to show how good the defensive secondaries are for Alabama and Penn State. The Crimson Tide and Nittany Lions were the only schools with two semifinalists out of the 13 total players to be announced as semifinalists for the award for the nation’s top defensive back.

Alabama is represented by Minkah Fitzpatrick and Levi Wallace. Alabama has one Jim Thorpe Award winner in the history of the award (first awarded in 1986), with Antonio Langham winning the award in 1993. Penn State is looking for the first Jim Thorpe Award winner in school history. Marcus Allen and Grant Haley have been named semifinalists for the award this year, giving Penn State a chance to have a player win the award.

Other notable players named as a semifinalist include Florida State’s Derwin James and Duke’s Jeremy McDuffie and Ohio State’s Denzel Ward. The Big Ten, SEC, and ACC all have three semifinalists. The winner of the award will be announced during the annual Home Depot College Football Awards Show on December 7 on ESPN.

2017 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists

Marcus Allen, Penn State
Quin Blanding, Virginia
Jalen Davis, Utah State
DeShon Elliott, Texas
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Grant Haley, Penn State
Derwin James, Florida State
Jeremy McDuffie, Duke
Parry Nickerson, Tulane
Justin Reid, Stanford
Dominick Sanders, Georgia
Levi Wallace, Alabama
Denzel Ward, Ohio State

With win over Duke, Virginia goes to 4-1 for first time since 2007

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Virginia has hit a level very rarely seen over the last decade — or two — in Charlottesville.

Thanks in very large part to Kurt Benkert‘s three touchdown passes, UVa. scored in every quarter en route to a tight 28-21 home win over Duke.  The victory was aided once again by the play of Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones, who has now thrown seven interceptions in his last two games against the Cavaliers — five last year, two more in this game.

With the win, the Cavaliers improved to 4-1 for the first time since the 2007 team started that season 7-1.  In fact, the Hoos have started 4-1 or better only two other times in the last two decades — 1998, 2004 being the others.

Neither team did much offensively, with the Blue Devils (4-2) averaging 3.4 yards per play, the Cavaliers 3.8.

While Benkert tossed a trio of touchdowns, he completed just over half of his 43 of his 42 passes and threw a pick-six that tied the score at 7-all in the first quarter.  His counterpart, Jones, completed just 14-of-42 passes (33.3 percent) for a meager 131 yards.