Let me sketch a scenario. Imagine a universe in which Kansas has a five-minute time-of-possession advantage over Duke, one in which Jamison Crowder is held to 14 receiving yards, Duke has two touchdowns nullified by penalties and loses the ball on downs at the Kansas five.
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Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Instead, Duke’s travails were mere speed bumps in a 41-3 rout of the visiting Jayhawks. Duke was that good and yes, Kansas was that bad.
There certainly are dueling narratives from Duke’s dominating victory. Duke won both lines-of-scrimmage. The Blue Devils forced their first two turnovers of the season--both interceptions--and sacked Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart twice, the final one a clean but vicious hit by Jonathan Jones that knocked Cozart out the game.
But the jaw-dropper was the perfomance of true freshman running back Shaun Wilson. The Charlotte native rushed 12 times for 245 yards and three touchdowns, from 69, 68 and 45 yards, using quickness to make tacklers miss and blazing speed to outrun the secondary.
That’s an average of 20.4 yards per carry.
Wilson broke Robert Baldwin’s 1994 school record for rushing yards in a game.
"That’s what Coach presses us on," Wilson said, "get in the hole, fill it up and then you have to switch gears, get into open space and score."
It didn’t take Kansas long to dig itself a hole. They lost 13 yards on the game’s first play from scrimage when the snap went over the head of quarterback Montell Cozart.
Kansas coach Charlie Weis said that first play "set the tone."
Duke got the ball after the three-and-out and took it 60 yards in six plays, Anthony Boone hitting Max McCaffrey from 36 yards out.
Less than four minues into the game, the rout was on.
Duke tacked on a Ross Martin field goal and then Wilson painted his first masterpiece of the evening, making it 17-0, still in the first quarter.
Kansas answered with a field goal, which Martin answered for Duke.
Duke hit a dry spell for much of the second period, with Boone missing six passes in a row, several with wide-open recivers.
"The wide receivers were getting it done," Cutcliffe said. "They were getting open. We want to get better at throwing it deep."
The half ended 20-3.
Duke worked out its offensive doldrums at halftime, with Cutcliffe telling Boone to relax and have fun.
Boone went 10-11 after intermission. "It’s something I’ve got to work on," Boone said. "Near misses happen. We executed better after half-time. It wasn’t schemes, just execution."
Boone’s second touchdown pass was also to McCaffrey, a tackle-breaking 10-yarder.
In all the excitement over Wilson’s performance, it’s easy to overlook McCaffrey, who set a career-high with seven catches and two scores.
McCaffrey says he recognized early that Kansas was committing a lot of its resources to stopping Crowder. "I was just running my routs and Anthony made some great throws. With guys like Jamison and Isaac, they have to focus their defense and that opens up the field for other people."
Wilson wrapped up the scoring with his final two scores. "All they were running were inside zones," Weis lamented. "It wasn’t like ‘what scheme are they running?’ They were running inside zones. They hit a gap and next thing you now, they’re bounding their head off the goalpost."
While Wilson and McCaffrey were pouring it on, Duke’s defense was shutting down the Kansas offense. Cozart suffered through an 11-27 (89 yards) outing, with seemingly every pass coming with him on the run from a Duke pass rush that made his evening miserable.
Jeremy Cash and David Helton again made their presence known with 12 and 11 tackkes respectively.
Cutcliffe agreed with the assertion that this might have been Duke’s most complete game of his tenure, adding "the best part of the game is that we were better in the second half than the first half."
The 3-0 Blue Devils have now outscored their opposition 127-33. Since Troy scored on the first play of the second quarter last week, Duke has allowed six points in almost seven full quarters.
Defensive end Dezmond Johnson and offensive guard Lucas Patrick went out with leg injuries and neither returned. Cutcliffe said that it was too early to know their severity for certain but seemed resigned to losing both for awhile. Duke is reasonably deep at defensive end and veteran Cody Robinson filled in nicely for Patrick. But Duke is running out of experienced depth at offensive line.
Duke used 11 walk-ons on its last kickoff. Cutcliffe said the package had been installed this week and he hopes to use it again this season.
Shaun Wilson wasn’t the only relative unknown to contribute. Redshirt freshman Evrett Edwards returned his first career interception 34 yards, setting up a field goal, while sophomore receiver Ryan Smth returned a punt 45 yards. Walk-on Christian Conway had three tackles on special teams.
DeVon Edwards had Duke’s other interception.
Josh Snead lost a touchdown on a chop block, while Isaac Blakeney lost an 80-yard score when he was called for offensive interference.
Duke hasn’t turned the ball over this season.
Ross Martin has made 76 consecutive PATs, the second-longest streak in Duke history. Doug Peterson holds the record at 84. Martin is 6-6 on field goals this season, 16-16 on extra points.
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- Game balls and gassers: KU at Duke
- Notebook: Weis shoulders responsibility for 38-point road defeat
- Column: It's time for Cozart to show off his speed
- 'Embarrassing' road trip
- Slow start sends Kansas to 41-3 loss to Duke
- Wilson Carries Duke to 41-3 Win Over Kansas
- FABULOUS FROSH
- DeCock: On crazy day in the Coastal, Duke holds serve
- Freshman Shaun Wilson sets school rushing record as Duke drums Kansas 41-3