Sean Renfree

Blue Devils’ QB holds back offense as Duke loses 22-10 to Hurricanes

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Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is known for his ability to develop quarterbacks. But Duke doesn’t have a Peyton Manning, Eli Manning or even a Sean Renfree currently on the roster. The Blue Devils will go as far as senior quarterback Anthony Boone takes them. And Boone didn’t take them very far Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes.

Boone was 22-of-51 passing for 179 yards and two interceptions during Duke’s 22-10 loss to Miami.

Miami did Saturday what it couldn’t do a year ago. Duke gouged Miami for 358 rushing yards in 2013. The Hurricanes only gave up 83 yards Saturday in Miami.

Due to Miami’s newfound ability to stop the run, the onus fell on Boone to elevate the rest of the offense, and he proved incapable of the being the type of passer to carry his team.

The narrative during the game was Boone only lost two games as a starter. Those two loses came when Duke faced Johnny Manziel‘s Texas A&M Aggies and Jameis Winston‘s Florida State Seminoles. Well, Boone has now lost to the Hurricanes’ true freshman, Brad Kaaya.

Boone was outplayed by Miami’s freshman. Kaaya finished the contest 21-of-35 passing for 226 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Saturday’s performance was an important building block as head coach Al Golden continues to rebuild the program.

Despite the poor play from its quarterback, Duke is still 4-1 and one game behind the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Pitt Panthers and Virginia Cavaliers in the ACC’s Coastal division.  Miami, meanwhile, is 1-1 in conference play.

The Blue Devils are talented along the offensive line and at wide receiver. They potentially have an explosive offense as long as their senior quarterback plays to the level expected of him. And Boone’s performance against Miami wasn’t good enough.

CFT Predicts: the ACC


As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the ACC.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SECBig Ten, Pac-12

Atlantic Division

1. Clemson (Last year: 11-2; beat LSU in Chick-fil-A Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Tigers shook their ‘Clemsoning’ curse and previous Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia by going 11-2 and beating LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
Offense, offense, offense. And some offense sprinkled in. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is a legitimate Heisman candidate and he’ll have Sammy Watkins to throw to for a third straight year. Watkins had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2012 — at least by his standards — because of a variety of issues, from a suspension to injuries, but he still finished second on the team in receiving yards. His touchdown production should rise again after getting in the end zone just four times.

Anything else?
The defense improved under first-year coordinator Brent Venables. With as good as the Tigers offense projects to be, there’s more wiggle room on that side of the ball. Also, can Clemson finally beat South Carolina after dropping four straight games?

2. Florida State (Last year: 12-2; beat NIU in Orange Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The ‘Noles won the ACC and beat NIU in the Orange Bowl. They also pulled their annual head-scratcher by losing to North Carolina State. The circle never ends, it seems.

So why are they ranked here?
Talent isn’t a question Tallahassee, but there are a lot of new faces. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has a ton of upside at the quarterback spot, it just remains to be seen at this point how he handles his first year as starter. Wide receiver depth is becoming an issue too. The defensive line loses two pass rushers in Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner, but that’s an area stacked — almost unfairly — with capable players.

Anything else?
Florida State had a whopping 11 NFL draft picks in April, but Jimbo Fisher also had to replace roughly half his coaching staff. That’s a lot of turnover and it’ll be interesting to see how players and coaches jell this year.


Cincinnati scores late to win exciting Belk Bowl


Duke’s last bowl appearance was the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl. It’s last bowl win? The 1961 Cotton Bowl.

The Blue Devils are going to have to wait a little bit longer to try to record another bowl win. Cincinnati forced a fumble deep in its own territory with under two minutes to play, drove the length of the field and then forced another fumble to secure a 48-34 win over Duke in the Belk Bowl.

Thanks to a pair of late scores by the Bearcats, the score didn’t reflect how close the game actually was. Duke jumped out to a quick 16-0 lead before Cincinnati roared back with 27 straight unanswered points. The two teams exchanged leads in the fourth quarter until a Ross Martin 52-yard field goal tied the game at 34. Duke was close to scoring again with under two minutes remaining when Josh Snead fumbled the ball and recovered by the Bearcats. It was the Blue Devils’ third turnover of the game.

That’s when Brendon Kay threw an 83-yard strike to tight end Travis Kelce for a touchdown. A sack and fumble by Duke quarterback Sean Renfree on the next possession sealed the game. Despite the turnovers, Fake Bo Pelini put it best:

It was the Belkiest, Belktastic Belk Bowl ever. Even the punting was superb.

Cincinnati was able to come away with the win without head coach Butch Jones, who left to take the Tennessee job earlier this month. It’s Cincinnati’s fifth season with at least 10 wins in the past six years. Duke, despite a good coaching job by coach David Cutcliffe, falls to 6-7.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 13 Rewind


As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

Thanks to some expected results, the muddled mess that had been the BcS and the chase for the crystal football the past couple of glorious weekends cleared itself up immensely in Week 13:

— No. 1 Notre Dame’s win over unranked USC
— No. 2 Alabama’s humiliation of in-state rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl
— No. 3 Georgia’s cruise over non-conference rival Georgia Tech.

With the confluence of those three events, the following is now known: the Fighting Irish have claimed one of the two spots in the BcS championship game, maintaining their position as the only eligible unbeaten left and putting themselves in line for the football program’s first national title since 1988.

And the Golden Domers’ opponent?

That’s crystal clear as well.  Well, more than likely it is.  The Tide will square off against the Bulldogs in the SEC championship game next Saturday.  As UA and UGA are ranked 2-3, respectively, in the latest BcS ratings, and barring an unexpected development of epic proportions, the winner of the SEC title game will face Notre Dame for the right hoist the title trophy.

If the early BcS projections come to fruition, there’s a chance that Florida, not Georgia, would sit at No. 3 in the set of rankings released Sunday night, behind both Notre Dame and Alabama.  However, even if that’s actually the case, a Georgia win over Alabama would very likely erase any type of deficit the Bulldogs may have between themselves and the Gators at the moment.

In other words, we’re right back to where we started: Notre Dame vs. Alabama/Georgia for all the crystal footballs.  Probably.


Duke’s Renfree cleared from concussion, will play vs. Clemson

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The will he/won’t he from earlier in the week has been cleared up in the affirmative for Duke.

Head coach David Cutcliffe said Sean Renfree, listed as probable on the team’s official injury report, has been cleared to play against Clemson Saturday.

The starting quarterback suffered a concussion during the second quarter of the Blue Devils’ blowout loss to Florida State this past weekend.  After being limited to non-contact drills earlier in the week, Renfree was cleared to resume full participation in Thursday’s practice.

Cutcliffe, though, did note his starter’s not completely out of the medical woods quite yet.

“The concern is how’s it going to go when you get hit, if you get hit,” the coach said.

Renfree is currently fourth in the ACC in passing efficiency, and played a significant role in lifting the Blue Devils to bowl eligibility for the first time since the 1994 season.