Duke

Duke RB Jela Duncan sidelined indefinitely with pec injury

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An academic issue cost Jela Duncan the entire 2014 season.  Now, an injury issue could affect his chances of seeing the field entering the 2015 season.

Duke revealed in a press release Tuesday that Duncan will be sidelined indefinitely because of what’s been diagnosed as a partially torn right pectoral muscle.  The running back sustained the injury during Monday’s practice, and it’s apparently an issue that’s bothered him in the past.

“Jela’s injury is obviously disappointing because we know how hard he’s worked to get back into the thick of things following the two shoulder surgeries,” head coach David Cutcliffe stated.

It was announced in December of 2013 that Duncan was suspended for not only the Chick-fil-A bowl matchup with Texas A&M, but for the entire following season as well because of a violation of university academic policy.  He was officially reinstated in January of this year.

At the time of his suspension, Duncan’s 562 yards were tops on the team for the 2013 season. He ended up No. 2 behind Josh Snead and his 651 yards, one year after leading the Blue Devils with 553 yards on the ground. Duncan’s also a weapon out of the backfield as he totaled 32 receptions for 212 yards in 2012 and 2013.

Duncan’s not the only injury to hit the position, although the two additional dings aren’t nearly as severe.  The school also announced that redshirt sophomore Joseph Ajeigbe and sophomore Shaun Wilson are nursing lower body injuries and are currently sidelined from contact drills.

Said the coach, “Just when you feel comfortable with four experienced running backs on the depth chart, three of them are in the training room.”

The injuries sustained by Ajeigbe and Wilson don’t appear to be long-term.

North Texas losing QB Dajon Williams to transfer

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A part-time starter at quarterback for North Texas has decided to exit the football program.

Head coach Dan McCarney confirmed to the Denton Chronicle that Dajon Williams will be transferring from the Mean Green.  No reason was given for what’s considered an unexpected departure.

“Dajon is no longer a part of the program,” McCarney told the Chronicle. “We wish him the best.”

Williams started three of the eight games in which he played, including his first career start in which UNT tied a Conference USA scoring record in a 77-7 rout of FCS Nicholls State.  He also led the Mean Green in passing touchdowns (seven) despite playing just two-thirds of the season.

After accounting for five turnovers — three interceptions, two fumbles — in a 35-point loss to UAB, Williams was replaced in the starting lineup by Andrew McNulty and never regained the job.

Johnson redshirted his true freshman season after coming to Denton as a two-star member of UNT’s 2013 recruiting class.

Jela Duncan reinstated at Duke after one-year suspension

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A player who could’ve made a significant contribution to Duke’s offense again in 2014 will get to do so in 2015.

The Blue Devils announced Wednesday night that Jela Duncan has been reinstated to the university and, thus, the football program. It was announced in December of 2013 that not would Duncan be suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl but for the entire 2014 season as well.

Other than a violation of academic policy, no reason was given for the running back’s suspension.

At the time of his suspension, Duncan’s 562 yards were tops on the team for the 2013 season. He ended up No. 2 behind Josh Snead and his 651 yards, one year after leading the Blue Devils with 553 yards on the ground. Duncan’s also a weapon out of the backfield as he totaled 32 receptions for 212 yards in 2012 and 2013.

The 2015 season will serve as the first of two seasons of eligibility remaining for Duncan.

In addition to Duncan’s reinstatement, the school also announced that tight end Daniel Helm has officially enrolled in classes.  It was announced earlier this month that Helm would be transferring into the program after leaving Tennessee last month.

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.