Anthony Boone

Offenses struggle in Shrine Game as USF kicker wins MVP

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If you thought yesterday was the first Saturday without college football since August, then you were not paying attention to the college football all-star schedule. The 90th East-West Shrine Game was played in St. Petersburg, Florida, with the East team winning by a score of 19-3. As the score might suggest, there was not a whole lot to be seen in this one, but it served as an opportunity for some NFL-hopefuls to show what they can do to NFL Scouts.

USF kicker Marvin Kloss won game MVP honors with his display of field goal kicking. Kloss notched field goals from 47 yards, 39 yards, 30 yards and a short 19-yard field goal to lead the way for the East team’s victory.

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason was the most consistent of the quarterbacks in the game, completing seven of eight passes for 71 yards for the East. Duke’s Anthony Boone completed four of his eight passes for 49 yards and Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke struggled with just two completions out of nine passes and an interception. Louisville running back Dominique Brown scored the game’s only touchdown late in the fourth quarter and he was the game’s leading rusher with 70 yards.

Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly was the leading passer for the West, completing seven of 13 passes for 65 yards. Kelly also led the West in rushing with 23 yards. Nevada’s Cody Fajardo and South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson combined to complete three of 12 passes for 10 yards. Both Fajardo and Thompson were intercepted as well, with each intercepted by FAU safety Damian Parms. The West offense was held to just 93 yards of offense, and completed just three of 133 third-down conversion attempts.

The offenses for both teams clearly struggled, which helped the defenses look even better in the all-star game. Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith came away as one fo the more impressive defensive standouts in the game with his ability to bring pressure on West quarterbacks.

One of the most dazzling plays in the game may have been pulled off by Colorado punter Darragh O’Neill. O’Neill leaped and snagged with one hand a high snap in the back of his end zone before getting off a punt. It was quite the effort, and a cause for celebration for punters everywhere watching.

With the Shrine Game now in the books, as well as the NFLPA Bowl that was played at the same time out west, the focus now shifts to the Senior Bowl this week. The Senior Bowl is the top-level college all-star game with the best of the best, so the level of play should be a little more entertaining that what the Shrine Game had to offer this season. The Senior Bowl will be played Saturday in Mobile, Alabama.

No. 15 Arizona State overcomes furious Duke rally for Sun Bowl victory

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It was not pretty, but No. 15 Arizona State (10-3) found a way out of El Paso with a victory in the Hyundai Sun Bowl Saturday afternoon. To do so, the Sun Devils needed to respond to a nearly storybook ending by Duke (9-4), with the Blue Devils taking its first lead late in the fourth quarter, only to see Arizona State steal it right back and intercept a last-ditch effort in the end zone to seal the 36-31 victory for Arizona State.

Arizona State started to let the game slip out of their hands late in the first half, but the Sun Devils came out strong in the second half. Taylor Kelly completed a touchdown pass to Demario Richard inside the red zone early in the third quarter to regain a double-digit lead and Zane Gonzalez later padded that lead with a 47-yard field goal, his third field goal of the afternoon. Going to the fourth quarter, Arizona State led 30-17, but just as they did at the end of the first half, the Sun Devils were unable to close.

Duke scored twice in the fourth quarter to gain its first lead of the game with just over five minutes to play. Anthony Boone completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Johnell Barnes early in the fourth quarter. Duke pulled a trick put of the bag later in the fourth quarter when receiver Jamison Crowder tossed a touchdown pass to Isaac Blakeney to give the Blue Devils their first lead of the game, 31-30 following the point-after. The thrill of owning the lead was short-lived, because getting the first bowl victory since the 1960 season certainly not could come so easy for Duke.

Kalen Ballage returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to the Duke four-yard line, and it took Arizona State just one play to move across the goal line. Kelly flipped a pass to Richard for the four-yard score, and the lead. Arizona State was stuffed on a two-point conversion, which gave Duke a chance to take one more lead.

Boone hit a deep pass down the middle fo the field to Crowder, who earlier in the game returned a punt for a touchdown, as the Blue Devils pushed inside the red zone with time dwindling. With 45 seconds to play, Boone threw a fade pass to Crowder on the right side of the field, but it was picked off by Kweishi Brown of Arizona State.

For Duke, it was another tough pill to swallow in a season that has seen a handful of them. But this should not take away from the tremendous amount of growth the program has seen in the past few seasons under head coach David Cutcliffe. It has to sting coming so close to a bowl victory not once, but twice in the final five minutes.

Arizona State missed out on a chance to play for a Pac-12 championship this season, but the season ends on a high note for Todd Graham‘s program. Arizona State should be expected to be another strong contender in the Pac-12 in 2014 as well after back-to-back 10-win seasons.

Momentum swings in Duke’s favor with late first half surge in Sun Bowl

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No. 15 Arizona State was unable to deliver an early knockout blow, and Duke’s Jamison Crowder gave the Blue Devils a late spark to capture the momentum before halftime. Arizona State leads Duke 20-17 at the half, but a punt return for a touchdown by Crowder may have swung the momentum in Duke’s direction. Arizona State led 20-3 before Duke made things a little more interesting late in the half.

The 68-yard punt return by Jamison Crowder pulled Duke within three points in a first half that has seen the Blue Devils defense play in a bend-but-don’t-break mode. It seems to have worked enough to give Duke’s offense a chance to feel capable of winning this game in the second half. Duke’s offense has been sluggish at times though, piling up just 144 yards of offense and converted four of eight third-down attempts. Anthony Boone completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Shaquille Powell minutes before Crowder’s punt return.

Demario Richard has rushed for a pair of Arizona State touchdowns, one in each quarter. The Sun Devils also added a pair of field goals off the leg of Zane Ballage to get to 20 points in the half. Eight different Arizona State players have caught a pass as Taylor Kelly continues to look to spread out the offense. Kelly has been pretty accurate with his passes, completing 14 of 18 attempts for 150 yards, but he also took a costly sack and fumbled the football as the Sun Devils were moving downfield for a potential touchdown.

Report: Florida QB Jeff Driskel could be on the move

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Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel could be looking for a new home.

The Raleigh News & Observer reported Saturday that Driskel, a redshirt junior in 2014, is looking into using his senior status to spend 2015 in a new destination thanks to the NCAA’s graduate transfer exemption, and that Duke is on his potential list of destinations. :He has sent a release to the Blue Devils, allowing them to contact him,” the paper reports.

While we don’t know what other schools Driskel could be considering, it’d be hard for him to find a better option than Duke. Few coaches are more accomplished in coaching quarterbacks than the Devils’ David Cutcliffe, and Driskel spent the past year playing under longtime Cutcliffe pupil Kurt Roper. Furthermore, Duke will have a job opening as current signal caller Anthony Boone is playing his collegiate finale today in the Sun Bowl.

Additionally, it’s easy to see why Driskel could see the appeal in a new destination. Simply put, the kid has been through the ringer. The former blue-chip recruit led the Gators to an 11-2 mark in 2012, but struggled with injuries and inconsistent play as Florida slogged to a 10-13 mark over the 2013-14 seasons. For his career, Driskel has connected on 320-of-535 passes (59.8%) for 3,363 yards (6.29 per attempt) with 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions while rushing 217 times for 637 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Devils don’t bring back much experience behind Boone. Sophomore Thomas Sirk and freshman Parker Boehme have attempted just 16 combined passes.

Of course, Driskel could just forget about football altogether and give the Boston Red Sox a call.

Georgia Tech claims ACC Coastal crown with Duke’s loss to North Carolina

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When the Duke Blue Devils hosted the North Carolina Tar Heels Thursday, it was all about the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

North Carolina’s dominant 45-20 victory over the rival Blue Devils handed Georgia Tech the ACC Coastal crown and placed Paul Johnson‘s team in the ACC Championship Game against the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles.

The school already released a statement with reaction to winning the ACC Coastal:

Meanwhile, Duke fell to 4-3 in the division, while North Carolina improved and now sports the same conference record.

The Blue Devils’ defense simply didn’t show up to play Thursday. North Carolina racked up a whopping 592 total yards. The Tar Heels were dominant at the point of attack and ran the ball for 316 of those yards. Three different players ran for at least 96 yards. Sophomore running back T.J. Logan led the way with 116 yards on 18 carries.

North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams also proved to be a difficult matchup for Duke. The dual-threat quarterback accumulated 374 total yards and four total touchdowns. Dukes’ offense only gained four more yards than Williams did.

Williams’ effort placed him in North Carolina’s record books:

The quarterback’s performance almost made everyone forget about the fact he also fumbled the ball three times.

The entire contest was plagued by mistakes. A combined six turnovers were committed. Duke was never able to recover from two early fumbles, though.

Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone also didn’t rise to the occasion. The senior signal-caller was 22-of-40 passing for 262 yards.

Once the first quarter ended, Duke was never in the contest. The Tar Heels went into Wallace Wade Stadium, ran their rivals out of the building and claimed the Victory Bell as their own.

Both teams are still bowl eligible, but the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t as bright as it once was for Duke. Instead, the Blue Devils ran smack into a Ramblin’ Wreck.