Duke safety Lummie Young IV and running back Mataeo Durant met with the media Tuesday to discuss Duke’s 30-23 win over Northwestern last Saturday and this Saturday’s game against Kansas.
Young and Durant were key components in Duke’s win and they discussed several of those big plays.
Young was named ACC Defensive Back of the Week after notching seven tackles and forcing two turnovers against Northwestern. Duke jumped to a 14-0 lead before Northwestern marched to the Duke 2-yard line, poised to get back into the game.
Young changed that. On third and goal, he sacked Hunter Johnson on a blitz and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Duke’s Ben Frye.
“It was a huge play,” Young said. “They drove down the field and we were down by the goal line. We have run that play before but it didn’t work out that way. When the call came in and I saw that I was running it, my eyes lit up and I knew I was going to have a chance to get there and when that hole opened up I just went.”
Young added an interception early in the second period, setting up a Charlie Ham field goal.
“I was covering the flat and the guy [Raymond Niro] came over running a wheel (route) and I knew that if I got my drop deep enough that I would be in his window and he threw the ball a little under and I was able to flip my hips and intercept it.”
Duke had that big early lead because Durant scored twice in the game’s first four minutes. He now has eight touchdowns in three games.
Nose for the end zone?
“Just a testament to the offense. Gunnar being a great playmaker, the coaches calling great plays, the big guys up front, credit where it’s due, making holes near the goal line, the red zone, all over the field, which allows me to take advantage of those opportunities. You always want to get the ball in those pivotal positions. I pride myself on taking advantage of those red-zone opportunities.”
Speaking of the big guys up front, Durant’s first touchdown came on a little swing pass in which Duke left tackle Graham Barton buried Northwestern defender Rod Heard.
“I got the ball and thought ‘I don’t have to go far. Just run straight’ And out of nowhere I saw Graham out of the corner of my eye just mash a kid and I was like ‘just walk in now.’ “
It wasn’t a perfect game for Durant. He lost two fumbles, one at the Northwestern three-yard line, the second at the Duke two-yard line, a potential 14-point turnaround.
“All of it is on me, not having good ball security. I’ve been working on that, making sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Young and Durant said Duke had an excellent practice leading to Kansas.
“I feel like we executed really well on offense,” Durant said. “Energy was up, the defense played well and we got a lot done.”
“Upbeat,” “uptempo,” “everybody flying around” is how Young described the practice.
Kansas does offer some challenges. One is quarterback Jason Bean, a transfer from North Texas State. Bean ran a 10.36 100-meters in high school and David Cutcliffe says Bean might be the fastest quarterback in college football.
Young said the key to stopping Bean is “swarming. Getting to him and getting him down. When he takes off everybody has to get to him and get him on the ground.”
Durant’s take on the Kansas defense?
“They have a really athletic team. We just want to do what we do on offense, make plays, have explosive plays down the field and not take anything lightly. I’ve seen them on film. They play well in the first half and it got away from them a little bit late. We just want to execute as well as we possibly can.”
Durant suggests that Duke has found its stride and needs to concentrate on refining the things it does best.
“You want to treat every week like it’s the same, come in and prepare to the best of your ability, execute well. The theme is always to go 1 and 0 for the rest of the season.”