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Ben Frye & Jake Bobo On Saturday’s Game Virginia

0-2 will get your attention

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Duke at Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 19: Duke wide receiver Jake Bobo (19) walking off the field after pregame drills prior to the game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Virginia Cavaliers on October 19, 2019, at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA.
Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“In any competitive circumstance, you’ve got to have a short memory, especially in ACC play. Obviously we aren’t where we want to be. But that doesn’t change our attitude. It makes us more anxious to get out there and prove what we have.”

That’s Duke defensive tackle Ben Frye discussing the state of his 0-2 football team as the Blue Devils prepare to travel to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers.

Frye and wide receiver Jake Bobo Zoomed with the media today and both displayed a noticeable lack of panic over Duke’s slow start.

Not surprisingly both expect their position groups to be important components in putting Duke on the winning side of the ledger.

“I think it comes down to a physical line of scrimmage,” Frye said. “I know they have an older O-line and I think we have a really good defensive line so I think the battle is going to be won upfront. We’ve got to stop the run and then get after the quarterback.”

Frye says stopping the runs leads to pressuring the quarterback.

“We’re an aggressive style, get-off defense and we’ve got a lot of guys with the ability to rush the edge and we’ve got to earn the right to rush the passer so we come into every game saying we’re going to stop the run and things are going to open up in [rushing] the pass game.”

At first glance it’s hard to see how Frye is part of that solution. He’s a defensive tackle, listed at 255 pounds, maybe a bit bigger than that but not much. Way too small to play defensive tackle in the ACC.

But Frye is a pretty tough customer. He’s overcome an ACL injury, surgery, a medical redshirt, rehab and he’s still standing.

He’s also a standout wrestler and he’s adept at using those skills on the defensive line.

“I’ve been wrestling since high school. Obviously, I’m a lighter-sized D-tackle. I use the same things you use in wrestling, using your hands shedding blocks, finding angles. Even as a heavyweight wrestler I’m always wrestling bigger dudes than me, so it definitely helps on the line of scrimmage.”

Frye is a redshirt junior. He and true senior Derrick Tangelo are the only defensive tackles with any substantive pre-2020 game experience. That makes Frye a leader and a mentor and he says he loves what he’s seeing from young defensive tackles like DeWayne Carter, Aeneas Peebles and Gary Smith.

Noting that the compressed summer cycle forced these players into catch-up mode, Frye says “I think those guys are pretty mature physically. I think they’re big guys who can move. I think we all feel comfortable with them coming in and being able to handle the job and perform just as well as us. I feel like they’re going to keep coming along as the season progresses and they’ll be making big-time plays.”

Bobo has a different set of concerns going into Saturday. The junior wide-out hasn’t been implicated in any of Duke’s way-too-numerous turnovers this season but he says eliminating those is the key to seeing the end zone.

“Not turning the ball over four times in the red zone; that will definitely get you points. All four times [against Boston College] I felt like if we don’t turn the ball over we score all four times. It’s just a matter of execution. We have to come together a little bit more and finish in the red zone. That’s something we’ve harped on. We’ve got to finish the ball in the end zone.”

Easier said than done. How to accomplish those goals?

“A lot of it is mental. Today we drilled not turning the ball over. As football players, since we were young, the theme is don’t turn the ball over. So, it’s definitely something we have to go at this week. Of course, we have to think about it in everything we do; running backs going through the hole protecting the ball a little bit more, receivers, we catch the ball, we’ve got to tuck it better, with a little more force.”

Bobo has eight receptions so far this season, including a career-high five against Boston College. That’s with a new quarterback, his third in three years.

How did he develop such quick chemistry was grad-student transfer Chase Brice?

“It’s easy as a receiver to develop a little bit of chemistry with a guy who throws the ball like Chase does. He puts the ball where it needs to be almost 100 percent of the time and that definitely helps your mental game. When I’m running around I know the ball is going to be where it needs to be. I’m not necessarily worried about catching the ball because I don’t really have a choice. We’ve talked about some of the timing stuff . . .. now that we’ve had more time together. We’ve spent a lot of time getting route timing down.”

Bobo says his wide-receiver group needs to help jump start the offense.

“As a receiver unit we feel like we have the firepower and the ability to go make plays every Saturday. We know as a group we can go out and make plays. We have confidence in each other.”

Four days from now we’ll find out if that confidence produces results on the field. But, with apologies to Emerson, nothing great was ever accomplished without confidence and it’s good to see Duke starting from that premise.