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A few thoughts from Duke 46, FIU 26

Didn't see that coming.

That phrase sums up not only the game for all of us failed pregame analysts, but the way FIU's failed defense looked all night. Their unexpected seeming befuddlement in the face of that which they knew might be coming from a quirky, damaged team crumbled our prognastications.

They hoped to mount more of a pass rush with the front four. They didn't and Duke quarterback Sean Renfree eventually decided to start looking downfield for his favorable matchups (after a while, they seemed to be giving Sam Miller the treatment Terrell "Target" Buckley used to get in the NFL). OK, you're not getting there, not even bothering Renfree after a while. They knew this might be a problem. They got zero sacks against Duke last year. What was Plan B? Plan C or D for Changes, Drastic?

And when FIU went into man coverage, were they nearly physical enough with Duke's receivers? Rarely did there seem enough disruption of pattern, patterns similar to what Duke ran last year. Conner Vernon's officially 6-1, 200 -- and don't both FIU and the University of Miami wish they'd have offered him as he came out of Gulliver four years ago? -- but sophomore Jamison Crowder goes 5-9, 175. Hey, you're not getting the quarterback off his spot, help a brotha out.

Speaking of physical, Duke averaged 5.0 yards per carry in the first half. Josh Snead ran for 47 yards on seven carries. Juwan Thompason ran for 22 on five carries. FIU got manhandled by an experieced Duke line not usually expert in run blocking that looked more physically mature than the Panthers' in both the run game and pass protection.

Also, it's not as if FIU didn't know Duke had special short yardage and red zone packages for tight end/situation quarterback Brandon Connette. And, they knew when Connette lines up behind center and Renfree goes in motion, Connette's taking the ball on an option and likely keeping it. Heck, they knew it so well, the knowledge worked against them when they fell for the okeydoke on Connette's play action and left David Reeves alone in the end zone for his first college catch. Yet, still, they rarely stopped Connette when they needed to do so. His first quarter touchdown run featured at least three missed takcles within 2 yards so even when FIU was in position, they didn't do enough to stop the pseudo option.

Check that: They did appear to do so four plays before that touchdown, on fourth and 2 from the FIU 25. Nobody at FIU will be taking care of Head Linesman John Hoffman's pets any time soon. The spot on Connette's run was greeted with "boy, generous spot!" by the local reporters around me in the press box. First down by inches. The next possession, the spot on Kedrick Rhodes' fourth-and-1 run from the Duke 4 might as well have been done by my 94-on-Tuesday grandmother in Lexington, Kentucky for all the relationship it had to reality. Officially, it was fourth and 1 from the 4. It was closer to fourth and 1 1/2 from the 5. Rhodes got past the 4 when he met the first tackler, whom he drove backwards a good half yard clear of the first down marker. Two other tacklers stopped his progress right over the extra point snap line, which is at the 3. The ball got marked a good yard behind that. My surrounding peers, again North Carolina-based reporters all, said various versions of "that's a terrible spot!" and were even confident it wouldn't withstand review. I agreed that the spot was atrocious, but didn't think review would overturn it. All spot challenges often do is show the randomness and difficulty in making the right call the first time.

Connette's run could've ended a drive and given FIU the ball -- albeit from the 24 -- with a 7-0 lead. Rhodes' run aborted that drive with FIU inside the Duke 5, perhaps about to retake the lead with a field goal or touchdown.

Bear Bryant used to say there are about six to eight plays that decide a football game, and the secret is to have the right players on the field for those plays. I agree with The Bear. I also think if you can't recover from a couple of first quarter disappointments like that, you're not mentally tough enough to win. So, yes, bad calls. Yes, could've changed the score and feel of the game early. No, not on the list of reasons FIU wound up on the sub side of a cosmetically close 20-point spanking. 

Besides, there's no 4th and 2 for Connette if Richad Leonard doesn't fumble the punt to set Duke up in scoring range. And after the "stop" on Rhodes, Miller picked off Renfree to put FIU at the Duke 31. That wasn't a zebra who, with FIU running the ball well, called the reverse to Glenn Coleman on the first play following the interception. Terrible call, poorly executed. It would've been a huge loss even before Coleman fumbled the ball into a 17-yard loss. Only a turnover could've been worse.

The field goal attempt got partially blocked after a bad snap, the first of two bad snaps from Shae Smith, both of which led to blocked field goals. Senior Mitch McCluggage has been running around with a knee brace, but might have his job back. Those two snaps are why I'm always wondering, with any football team I cover, if the long snapper position has been addressed.

FIU's next drive ended when they, on third and 1 from their own 45, got cute. They ran freshman wide receiver Nick England onto the field late before the snap, then threw him the quick wide hitch they threw to Wayne Times the play before. True freshman, scrambling to get on the field, the first college pass thrown to him, maybe his first college play, on a third down you really want after Duke's taken momentum and the lead...anybody shocked at the drop? Putting England in that position wasn't fair to him.

Which brings us to another point: FIU never went under center in short yardage situations. That's not maximizing use of a big, strong quarterback behind a strong line.

They could've let Medlock loose more in the first half. That said, FIU came out of the first half with 14 points, 289 total yards, 104 rushing yards and 4.5 per carry even with the reverse fiasco. Medlock was 14 of 17 for 185 yards. One incompletion was a drop. He didn't throw an interception and didn't fumble -- heck, he recovered Coleman's fumble on the reverse. They got the field goal shot at the end of the half because Medlock drove them down there frantically on four completions. Tell most college coaches that's what you get out of an offense run by a guy in his third start, they'll take it and Russian kick dance out the door laughing.

Medlock wasn't the problem Saturday night. At all.

The second half, I'm skipping. After Duke went up by 30, the Blue Devils didn't need to play FIU honest. It was garbage time.

What's should be most disconcerting about this total team barf for FIU is the biggest heavers came from the areas that seemed the least of FIU's concerns. A great season is still possible. I just don't remember a college-affiliated team having one after opening the season in such a manner.

Happy Labor Day!

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OH yeah, all the crowing about their preseason ranking ahead of the U, ROFLOL. F orever I nferior to the U!

The score says it all DUKE 46 points, wow, and where is all the talk now, hotshots?

I did not expect a BEHIND BEATING like that , thought we b way more competitive , very disappointing loss , lets 4get about it and move on 2 the next game Akron.

DJN....wow! This write up is Flawless and your best work (that I've read atleast).

Drunk and ranting on twitter last night...more level headed this morning. I didn't appreciate the Medlock performance last night because of the spanking and "alcohol) but what a performance.

The D? When do you give Sam Help? ....

Thanks djn. Driving down from NC bruised batter humbled and humiliated. But hey atleast theres AKRON next week.

Great unvarnished assessment DJN. That was certainly hard to watch. I hope it was just one bad night and doesn't portend what lies ahead for the rest of the season. If it's the latter, hard to believe that so many prognosticators could be so wrong. I didn't foresee a national championship, but I may have bought into the top 25 hype. That may have been a tad premature, we shall see. Maybe that team that we've been promised for the last couple months shows up next week, although I'm not sure what lessons can be learned from beating up on Akron. And after last night, I'm not sure I want to even take that for granted.

Awesome work. Wow, great analysis!

Really disappointed, too much hype. UCF and Louisville are going to be tough.

Disappointing loss...

Nice seeing you David. I said I would unplug myself from anything FIU for several days, but couldn't resist your blog.

Excellent analysis, and agree with all of your points. Especially that 4th and 1 where they had Medlock line up shotgun (!!!).

We all bought into the hype. I'm hoping this is an isolated incident, and that no more eggs will be laid.

Hahahaa The U beat Boston College and the top 25 FIU lost to yea big shot Duke! Hahahahaha. All about the U! Better recognize

Leonard is a butterfinger needs to stop returning kickoffs. Regardless i still think his knee was down before fumble. Then the refs changed the momentum of game by giving Duke a ridiculous spot on the ball for the first down so they can score a TD. Next the refs gave their Defense a great spot on the ball to prevent FIU from scoring a TD. Damn refs they always hating on FIU! If I was Mario Cristobal I would have a fit!!!

The only player that is any good on FIU is Rhodes. The rest belong playing in middle shool. All about the U! LMAO at all of u babies!

Duke The Perennial Doormat strikes again!
Now it is official, Duke the doormat of college football is actually better than Fiwho!
Half a hundred to 26!!!...DUKE!!!...laughable!!!

Fiwho was a joke, is a joke, will always be a joke in college football!
I wonder where the CBS computer rankings have them now?
Pathetic team, playing pathetic competition, in a pathetic conference = JOKE! : )

Hahahahahahahaaha Pathetic FIU the University of losers! Its all about the UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

Seems as though the same issues continue to plague FIU. The problem with this team last year gets summed up in this game: What truly separates winning programs from losing ones is how you take advantage of opportunities. FIU in this game had early opportunities to be ahead big on Duke but turned the ball over twice, giving Duke the ability to capitalize early and momentum shifted.

To all the morons posting negative comments about FiU would you please share with the readers what college football program you played for receivng a full scholarship with all expenses paid. More likely the case is you were never even able to compete at the High School level and have never attended any University. If you had anything going on in your own life you would not have the time or energy to constantly post negative comments about our team!

Where are the faithful FIU fan postings?
Even the most talented teams and players lose games and have off
games. I truly hope the FIU team does not read these disparaging
reviews and comments. These players compete in the classroom, on the football field and
all under the scrutiny of critics. Please try supporting your Floridian
College teams. They need your supportive than your condemnation.
Those with a voice should use it wisely and positively or keep
the voice quiet.
Always a believer in FIU.

What happened to that #4 guy, that guy used to score all the touchdowns for FIU, did he graduate or something? They could have used him.

Just a humiliating learning experience for the team, especially for the Defence which was suppose to be their strength...I'm sure they'll bounce back. If they are going to lose like this, as a fan, I much rather they loose in their first game of the year, build on it, come together as a team, circle the wagons and develop an 'us against the world' attitude. It is now on the coaching staff's shoulders to earn their money and get the players ready to compete. Can this staff regroup, get the players fcoused again win the Home Openner this upcomming Saturday and go on to a season that as a team, they get better and better with each game...I think so. Now we'll see what happens and what this team and the coaching staff is really made off...

I'm an FIU student and fan but thank goodness i am an FSU fan as well. The weakness that is shown in FIU is their lack of size against BCS teams. That's it. Some questionable play calls but for the most part is simply size. FIU needs to recruit more in Texas and Oklahoma for those huge DL and OL men.

How disappointing. This team was not prepared. That is the coaches fault. It appears the defense is reading all the hype and had nothing to prove. The coaches seem to not be on the same page and were out coached. Some of the coaches have a diiferent aggenda and are skewing the depth chart. Another disappointment was how one of the fans was acting in the stands. Taunting one of the Duke players who was down on the field injured. This was after of course we were down big. I hope we show up with a lot more class next week in all areas of concern.

Fiwho: 26
Duke the Notorious NCAA Doormat: half a hundred

LOL!!!

...ya think they still think they are #38 in that cbs computer ranking? : )

Duke??? smh

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