ACC: Corbin McCarthy

Duke season preview

August, 21, 2013
8/21/13
10:30
AM ET
Today we’re looking at the Blue Devils as they try to get back to the postseason for the second straight year under coach David Cutcliffe:

Duke Blue Devils

Coach: David Cutcliffe (65-69 overall; 21-40 at Duke)

2012 record: 6-7

[+] EnlargeAnthony Boone
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsAnthony Boone, who threw for 531 yards and 5 touchdowns last season, will lead the Blue Devils' offense in 2013 as the starting quarterback.
Key losses: QB Sean Renfree, WR Conner Vernon, S Jordan Byas, S Walt Canty

Key returnees: WR Jamison Crowder, RB Juwan Thompson, DE Kenny Anunike, CB Ross Cockrell

Newcomer to watch: S Jeremy Cash. The redshirt sophomore is expected to start this fall after transferring from Ohio State, where he spent two semesters. Cash left, along with former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel, and he wound up choosing to transfer to Duke over Miami and South Florida.

Biggest games in 2013: Oct. 26 at Virginia Tech, Nov. 23 at Wake Forest, Nov. 30 at North Carolina

Biggest questions mark heading into 2013: The secondary. The group underwent a complete makeover this offseason, as Ross Cockrell was the only returning starter in the group. And even he missed the second half of spring with an injury. Cash, Dwayne Norman and Corbin McCarthy are the new faces that could earn spots in the starting lineup, but don’t be surprised if true freshmen Evrett Edwards and Quay Mann play as well. McCarthy, Cash and Norman were penciled in as the starters in the preseason depth chart.

Forecast: Regardless of how many starters Duke returns, or how many playmakers the team has this year, Duke is better simply because the players understand what it takes to get to a bowl game. Last year was a major milestone for the program, as Duke became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994, and the team continues to reap the intangible rewards of that six-win season. Of course, confidence will only go so far against the likes of Virginia Tech and Miami.

Much of Duke’s success this year hinges on three things: the progress of first-year starting quarterback Anthony Boone, how effectively Duke can run the ball, and how much the defense can improve. Boone has received rave reviews from those within the program, as he has a stronger arm than his predecessor, Sean Renfree, and is more mobile. He’s able to keep plays alive with his feet, and will give defenses a different challenge. With more option principles in the offense, it should be more unpredictable. They’ve got to get more out of their ground game, which ranked No. 98 in the country last year. Duke has its top four rushers back from last season, so the expectation is improvement. Defensively, Duke had one of the statistically worst groups in the country, ranking No. 105 in total defense, No. 107 in scoring defense, and No. 101 in rushing defense. This offseason, the staff went back to the drawing board and tried to simplify the scheme. The goal is to do less thinking and more attacking, and there is confidence within the program they’ll be able to do that -- particularly up front. It also can’t be overlooked that Duke doesn’t have to play FSU and Clemson this fall, two opponents that outscored Duke 104-27 in back-to-back losses. A favorable nonconference schedule should help Duke get back to the postseason again.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 7, 2013
8/07/13
12:00
PM ET
Hey everyone, know what day it is?

Weak and strong: Duke

July, 2, 2013
7/02/13
3:30
PM ET
We move on in our series looking at the weakest and strongest positions on each team in the ACC with Duke.

Strongest position: Offensive line.

Duke leads the ACC with the most returning experience on the offensive line. For that reason, this group gets the nod over the returning specialists Ross Martin and Will Monday, who should be tops in the ACC this season. The four returning starters on the line have combined to start 104 games. Two were All-ACC honorable mention selections last season -- tackle Perry Simmons and guard Dave Harding. Guard Laken Tomlinson was a first-team freshman All-America in 2011. Given these returning starters, and the depth at running back, hopes are high that the Blue Devils can be consistently effective with their ground game this season. Last season, Duke’s top three running backs combined to rush for 1,401 yards on 283 attempts (4.95 average). The hope is for more in 2013.

Weakest position: Secondary.

The good news is All-ACC cornerback Ross Cockrell returns. The bad news? Not much in the way of proven or experienced players in the secondary. You have cornerback Garett Patterson, who has never started a game and played primarily on special teams. You have safety Jeremy Cash, who sat out 2012 after transferring from Ohio State. You have safety Corbin McCarthy, who had four tackles in two games in 2012 before season-ending shoulder surgery. And you have safety Dwayne Norman, who made 60 tackles as a freshman in 2012. Cockrell will be relied upon to provide a steady hand, especially early on, as the rest of the unit gains the experience it will need for the remainder of the season. If Duke wants to make improvements on its defense this year, the secondary has to grow up and fast.

For more on this series, click here.

Duke Blue Devils spring wrap

May, 7, 2013
5/07/13
10:30
AM ET
Duke Blue Devils

2012 record: 6-7

2012 conference record: 3-5, Coastal

Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

WR Jamison Crowder, RB Juwan Thompson, DE Kenny Anunike, CB Ross Cockrell

Key losses

QB Sean Renfree, WR Conner Vernon, S Jordan Byas, S Walt Canty

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Jela Duncan* (516 yards, 4 TDs)

Passing: Renfree (260-of-392 for 2,755 yards, 18 TDs, 8 INTs)

Receiving: Crowder* (1,025 yards, 8 TDs)

Tackles: Canty (102)

Sacks: Anunike* (5)

Interceptions: Cockrell* (5)

Spring answers

1. Anthony Boone is for real. People will still wonder how the Blue Devils are going to do without Sean Renfree, but Anthony Boone proved this spring he is the real deal. Boone was impressive as he took over the starting quarterback job, and allows the Blue Devils to add more option principles to the offense, which will make them much more unpredictable.

2. Receivers step up. Here is another question that coach David Cutcliffe believes has been answered this spring. The Blue Devils do lose Conner Vernon, but leading receiver Jamison Crowder returns and Cutcliffe had special praise for the way Max McCaffrey came on this spring. “The receiving corps, I thought, had a tremendous spring,” Cutcliffe said.

3. Defensive front. The Blue Devils went back to the drawing board on defense and decided to simplify the scheme, in order to have their players do less thinking and more attacking. The result, Cutcliffe believes, could be a much better group -- particularly up front.

Fall questions

1. Secondary. This unit has to be completely rebuilt, with Ross Cockrell the only returning starter in the group. And even he missed the second half of spring with an injury. Jeremy Cash, Dwayne Norman and Corbin McCarthy are the new faces that are expected to take their spots in the starting lineup, but don’t be surprised if true freshmen Evrett Edwards and Quay Mann play as well.

2. Can the run game improve? The Blue Devils appear to have great depth in their backfield with their top four rushers back. So the hope is they can have a much more consistent running game this season. Last year, Duke ranked No. 98 in the nation in this category. Boone should factor in here as well.

3. Inexperience. Though the Blue Devils do return a good many of their starters, the ones who are gone are at the key positions on the football field -- quarterback, two receivers, center and three players in the secondary. They will have to rely on players without much game experience at all those positions so how quickly they grow up will be a huge key for this team.
With half of the conference playing spring games this weekend, here’s a look at what to watch if you’re keeping an eye on the ACC as spring ball comes to a close:

CLEMSON

When: 4 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPN3)

What to watch:
  • Quarterbacks of the future. You know Tajh Boyd is good. Expect Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly to take most of the snaps. Boyd played just four snaps in the last scrimmage. Let's see his backups.
  • The tight ends. Clemson tight ends Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford have been the first team All-ACC tight ends the past two years. Clemson tight ends have 118 receptions and 21 touchdowns the past two years, perhaps the most underrated area in Chad Morris’ offense. So who moves in there this year? Sam Cooper is the most experienced, but freshman Jordan Leggett has been impressive this spring.
  • How much better is the defense? All eyes will be on Brent Venables' group to see how much progress it has made this spring. If the D gets better, it could be a special season in Death Valley.
FLORIDA STATE

When: 2 p.m. Saturday, (ESPN3)

What to watch:
  • The quarterbacks. It's been one of the hottest topics this spring in the ACC and arguably the biggest position battle in the conference. Check out Clint Trickett, Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston as they all battle to replace starter EJ Manuel.
  • The defensive line. The competition is on to replace Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine. Mario Edwards Jr. is ready to jump in, along with Giorgio Newberry.
  • Don't forget the kicker. It's big at FSU. The Noles have to replace Dustin Hopkins, the ACC's all-time leading scorer and the NCAA's all-time kick scorer. It's your chance to see Roberto Aguayo, who was one of the nation's top kickers coming out of high school.
MARYLAND

When: 7 p.m. on Friday in Byrd Stadium

Parking/admission: Free

What to watch:
  • The running backs. Both Brandon Ross and Albert Reid have had strong springs and will be competing for playing time come the fall.
  • The receivers. This group should be a strong point for the team this year, as Stefon Diggs, Deon Long and Nigel King are a talented trio.
  • New faces on defense. The Terps have to replace six starters on defense, including some of their best leaders in Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis.
DUKE

When: 4 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPN3) in Wallace Wade Stadium

Parking/admission: Free

What to watch:
  • Booooooone. Anthony Boone takes over at quarterback, and there have been rave reviews about him from within the program all spring. He's got a strong arm and is mobile.
  • New faces at safety. Some big names are gone, as Duke has to replace graduates Jordon Byas and Walt Canty, and Brandon Braxton, who moved back to receiver. Jeremy Cash, eligible now after transferring from Ohio State and sitting out last fall, headlines the group that includes sophomore Dwayne Norman (60 tackles in 2012 as true freshman) and redshirt freshman Corbin McCarthy.
  • Front and center: There is one hole to fill on the offensive line and Matt Skura takes over at center for Brian Moore.
MIAMI

When: 3 p.m. ET at Sun Life Stadium (ESPN3)

Gates open: 12:30 p.m.

Parking/admission: Free

What to watch:
  • Defensive improvement. Is there any? The Canes were one of the worst in the country last year, but they return every starter up front.
  • The No. 2 QB. Who is it? Gray Crow started the last scrimmage as the backup to Stephen Morris and completed 8 of 13 passes for 73 yards, with a touchdown and interception. Ryan Williams, who entered the spring as the expected No. 2, completed only six of his 12 passes with a touchdown and an interception. The coaches will be watching these guys closely on Saturday, so should you.
  • Running back Dallas Crawford. You know Duke Johnson. It's time to get to know this guy. Those within the program have said Crawford has had a great spring and could be a rising star this fall. He scored two touchdowns in a scrimmage in Naples earlier this month.
NORTH CAROLINA

When: 3 p.m. ET on Saturday at Kenan Stadium (ESPN3)

Admission: Free

Parking: $5/vehicle

What to watch:
  • Gio's replacement(s). A.J. Blue and Romar Morris have been working to ease the loss of leading rusher Giovani Bernard. Can they be as effective as he was, how much progress have they made and who will replace Bernard in the return game?
  • The O-line. Former guard Jonathan Cooper should be a first-round draft pick later this month, and it won't matter how good Blue and Morris are if they can't find anyone to help block for them. A total of three starters have to be replaced on the offensive line.
  • Replacing big names on D. Cooper and Bernard aren't the only big names that will be missing. The defense is going to miss tackle Sylvester Williams, who could be another first-round draft pick, and linebacker Kevin Reddick (85 tackles, 8.5 for loss). How does the D look without them?
PITTSBURGH

When: 7 p.m. ET on Friday at Bethel Park High School (ESPN3)

Gates open: 5:30 p.m.

Admission: Free

What to watch:
  • The quarterbacks. Fifth-year senior Tom Savage has taken most of the reps with the first team, and redshirt freshman Chad Voytik appears to be the backup, but coach Paul Chryst has yet to name a starter.
  • The running backs. Earlier this month, it was announced that Rushel Shell has decided to transfer. Since then, the bulk of the carries have gone to junior Isaac Bennett, sophomore Malcolm Crockett and senior Desmond Brown. How they fare will go a long way in determining how Pitt fares in its first season in the ACC.
  • The offensive line. It's been problematic for the Panthers in each of the past two seasons, and Pitt now has to break in two new starters in Gabe Roberts and Adam Bisnowaty.

Week 12 injury reports

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
11:00
AM ET
Here are the ACC injury reports for Week 12 from the schools that emailed them:

CLEMSON

Probable
Out for the season
DUKE

Probable
Doubtful
Out
Out for the season
FLORIDA STATE

Out
Out for the season
MARYLAND

Out for the season
Questionable
Probable
MIAMI

Out
Surgery/Out for the season:
NC STATE

Out for season
Out for game

ACC injury reports: Week 10

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
11:00
AM ET
Here are the ACC injury reports, from the schools that released them:

CLEMSON

Out for season
Probable
DUKE

Probable
Doubtful
Out
Out for season
MARYLAND

Out for season
Out
Questionable
Probable
NC STATE

Out for season
Out
VIRGINIA

Out for season
Out
Doubtful
Questionable
Probable

ACC injury report: Week 9

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
11:00
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Here are the ACC injury reports for Week 9 from the schools that emailed them:

DUKE

Probable
Questionable
Doubtful


Out
Out for season


FLORIDA STATE


Out


Out for season
MARYLAND

Probable
Questionable
Out
Out for season

NORTH CAROLINA

Out
NORTH CAROLINA STATE

Out for season

ACC injury report: Week 8

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
11:00
AM ET
Here are the ACC injury reports for Week 8 from the schools that emailed them:

CLEMSON

Out for the season
DUKE

Probable
Questionable
Out
Out for season


FLORIDA STATE


Out


Out for season
MARYLAND

Probable
Questionable
Doubtful
Out
Out for season

MIAMI

Doubtful
Surgery/Out for season
NORTH CAROLINA

Out
NORTH CAROLINA STATE

Probable
VIRGINIA

Probable
Questionable


Out
Out for season
VIRGINIA TECH

Probable
Out
Out for season
Duke defensive coordinator Jim Knowles gave up a head-coaching job at his alma mater, Cornell, to come to Duke and take over one of the nation’s worst defenses.

That’s the kind of draw coach David Cutcliffe has to his assistants.

“That’s why I did it, because of him,” said Knowles, who also worked with Cutcliffe at Ole Miss. “He’s that kind of guy. He’s the right guy at the right time here.”

Turns out Knowles was the right guy at the right time for Duke’s defense, too. Less than three full years after he was hired, Knowles has turned his injury-laden group into one of the ACC’s more respectable defenses. As Duke prepares to face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Saturday, it does so ranked higher than the Hokies this week in total defense, rushing defense, passes intercepted and sacks. Duke’s improvement on defense has been one of the key factors in the Blue Devils’ 5-1 start, as they are the only team in the ACC that can become bowl eligible this weekend with a win.

[+] EnlargeWalt Canty
Zumapress/Icon SMIWalt Canty (4) and the Duke defense are turning heads.
“They are starting to make plays even if they’re not in the perfect position,” Knowles said. “We all try to have the perfect defense for every play, but it doesn’t work out that way. What you need is guys who understand the system and react to what they see and things that are happening right in front of them. It’s not a video game. As coaches we want to make it into a video game and draw up the perfect blitz. We call it ‘pull your trigger.’ They’re really just starting to react to the play before it happens. That’s a product of being in the system. That’s the way you get better.”

Duke, which gave up 180 rushing yards per game last year, is allowing fewer than 130 yards (and 3.7 yard per carry) this year. Duke already has more sacks from its defensive front (13.5) than it did all last season (12).

Duke -- a program usually filled with a bunch of polite players -- is finally looking a little mean, not to mention more comfortable in Knowles’ 4-2-5 scheme.

“From last year to this year, I feel like we’re playing more aggressive,” said safety Walt Canty, who had 14 tackles, including three for loss in last week’s 42-17 win over Virginia. “Last year it was still kind of a new system. This year we’re more familiar with it, and there are a lot of older guys, and a lot of leaders on the field.

“That’s one of our focuses on defense. We want to come out and try and be as aggressive as possible and try and force the offense into doing things they don’t want to do.”

So far, so good. Duke is tied for second in the ACC in turnovers gained with 12.

What makes Duke’s defensive progress all the more impressive is how many injuries to key players they’ve had to overcome. In years' past, the program wouldn’t have been able to do it because of a lack of depth and talent. The recruiting has improved, though, and there is no longer as much of a drop-off from the first- to the second-string defense.

Safety Jordon Byas missed the first three games after preseason knee surgery. Starters Brandon Braxton and Lee Butler were injured early in the Wake game. Starter August Campbell was hurt and then left the team. Backups Corbin McCarthy, Taylor Sowell, Jared Boyd and Chris Tavarez have all been hurt.

“It could have been devastating,” Knowles said. “It really could have been devastating.”

The secondary, which was hit the hardest by injuries, has also been one of the most improved groups on the defense. Last year, Duke ranked either last or next to last in the ACC in every significant defensive category. This year, the Blue Devils rank fourth in total defense and fifth in pass efficiency defense.

“Coach Cutcliffe has really built a great program,” Knowles said. “We’re at a point where the players are starting to believe. All coaches talk about that next-man-up philosophy, and that’s hard to get to when you’re struggling to build a program, but at some point it clicks. The guys who step in there are just expected to do it instead of people wondering if they’re going to make a mistake. That’s the growth and maturity of the program in general.”

Week 6 injury reports

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
11:00
AM ET
Here are the ACC injury reports from the schools that emailed them:

CLEMSON

WILL PLAY

WR Sammy Watkins (virus)

C Dalton Freeman (thumb)

PROBABLE

OG Kalon Davis (hamstring)

OUT

WR Martavis Bryant (groin)

RB D.J. Howard (shoulder)

OUT FOR SEASON

DB Martin Jenkins (hernia)

CB Tony McNeal (torn ACL)

LB Justin Parker (groin)

DUKE

PROBABLE

LB David Helton (leg)

QUESTIONABLE

CB Lee Butler (lower body)

QB Sean Renfree (arm)

DT Jamal Wallace (lower body)

OUT

CB Jared Boyd (leg)

S Brandon Braxton (upper body)

LB Kelby Brown (leg)

NG Jamal Bruce (foot)

TE Braxton Deaver (leg)

DE Justin Foxx (hand)

S Chris Tavarez (leg)

OUT FOR SEASON

TE Jack Farrell (leg)

WR Blair Holliday

DE Allen Jackson (shoulder)

S Corbin McCarthy (shoulder)

S Taylor Sowell (leg)

FLORIDA STATE

OUT

DB Justin Bright (head)

LB Ukeme Eligwe (hand)

OL Garrett Faircloth (hip)

OL Daniel Foose (back)

DT Moses McCray (head)

DT Derrick Mitchell (back)

OL Trey Pettis (head)

OUT FOR THE SEASON

DB Colin Blake (shoulder)

DE Chris Casher (knee)

TE Dan Hicks (knee)

DE Brandon Jenkins (foot)

DT Jacobbi McDaniel (ankle)

RB Mario Pender (sports hernia)

MARYLAND

PROBABLE

WR Kerry Boykins (hamstring)

LB Kenneth Tate (knee)

DL Joe Vellano (foot)

QUESTIONABLE

DB Matt Robinson (groin)

OUT

PK/P Nick Ferrara (hip)

OUT FOR SEASON

QB C.J. Brown (knee)

DL Andre Monroe (knee)

MIAMI

OUT

DL Curtis Porter (upper extremity)

DB Rayshawn Jenkins (upper extremity)

DL Olsen Pierre (upper extremity)

OL Ben Jones (lower extremity)

OUT FOR THE SEASON

WR Malcolm Lewis (lower extremity)

LB Ramon Buchanan (lower extremity)

LS Sean McNally (lower extremity)

NORTH CAROLINA

OUT

RB Connor Gonet

OL T.J. Leifheit

LB Darius Lipford

RB Travis Riley

PK Miller Snyder

WR T.J. Thorpe

NC STATE

OUT

OT Rob Crisp (lower back)

OG Andrew Wallace (foot)

RB James Washington (ankle)

OUT FOR THE SEASON

OG Zach Allen (foot)

DT Jacob Kahut (knee)

LB Michael Peek (knee)

VIRGINIA

PROBABLE

OT Oday Aboushi (upper extremity)

DT Will Hill (medical)

S Brandon Phelps (upper extremity)

DOUBTFUL

WR Tim Smith (lower extremity)

OUT

DE Billy Schautz (lower extremity)

DT Buddy Ruff (medical)

S Darius Lee (lower extremity)

OUT FOR THE SEASON

S Pablo Alvarez

LB Adam Caplinger

DT Marco Jones

S David Marrs

WR Mario Nixon

VIRGINIA TECH

PROBABLE

DT Luther Maddy (ankle)

WR Christian Reeves (hamstring)

G David Wang (ankle)

DOUBTFUL

RB Tony Gregory (knee)

OUT

WR Joshua Stanford (knee)

OUT FOR SEASON

OT Nick Acree (knee)

WR D.J. Coles (knee)

Week 5 injury reports

September, 28, 2012
9/28/12
11:00
AM ET
Here are the ACC injury reports from the schools that emailed them:

DUKE

PROBABLE

CB Lee Butler (leg)

OG Lucas Patrick (ankle)

QUESTIONABLE

QB Brandon Connette (leg)

TE Erich Schneider (lower body)

OUT

CB Jared Boyd (leg)

LB Kelby Brown (leg)

NG Jamal Bruce (foot)

TE Braxton Deaver (leg)

DE Justin Foxx (hand)

S Chris Tavarez (leg)

OUT FOR SEASON

TE Jack Farrell (leg)

WR Blair Holliday

DE Allen Jackson (shoulder)

S Corbin McCarthy (shoulder)

S Taylor Sowell (leg)

FLORIDA STATE

OUT

S Justin Bright (head)

DE Chris Casher (knee)

LB Ukeme Eligwe (hand)

OL Garrett Faircloth (hip)

OL Daniel Foose (back)

DT Moses McCray (head)

DT Jacobbi McDaniel (ankle)

DR Derrick Mitchell (back)

OUT FOR SEASON

DB Colin Blake (shoulder)

TE Dan Hicks (knee)

DE Brandon Jenkins (foot)

RB Mario Pender (sports hernia)

MIAMI

PROBABLE

Raphael Kirby-Lower extremity

OUT

Denzel Perryman-Lower Extremity

SURGERY/OUT FOR SEASON

Ramon Buchanan-Lower Extremity

Malcolm Lewis-Lower Extremity

Sean McNally-Lower Extremity

NC STATE

OUT FOR SEASON

Jacob Kahut, DT - knee

Michael Peek, LB - knee

OUT FOR GAME

Rob Crisp, OT - lower back

Andrew Wallace, OT - foot

James Washington, HB - ankle

VIRGINIA TECH

OUT FOR SEASON

Nick Acree (knee)

D.J. Coles (knee)

OUT

Tony Gregory (knee)

Joshua Stanford (knee)

PROBABLE

David Wang (ankle)

Week 4 injury reports

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
11:00
AM ET
Here are the ACC injury reports for Week 4 from the schools that emailed them:

CLEMSON

Out
Probable
Practice note: Coach Dabo Swinney said redshirt freshman Eric Mac Lain has begun to work at offensive guard in addition to tight end. He will be an offensive guard full time at some point this season, but in the short term will continue to play the tight end position in games.

DUKE

PROBABLE
QUESTIONABLE
OUT
OUT FOR SEASON
FLORIDA STATE

OUT
OUT FOR THE SEASON
MARYLAND

OUT FOR SEASON
OUT
QUESTIONABLE
PROBABLE
MIAMI

Out
Surgery/Out for the season:
VIRGINIA TECH

Out for Season
Out
Probable

ACC injury reports: Week 3

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
11:00
AM ET
Here are the injury reports from the schools who emailed them this week:

DUKE

PROBABLE
OUT
OUT FOR SEASON
FLORIDA STATE

OUT
OUT FOR THE SEASON
GEORGIA TECH

OUT
QUESTIONABLE
MARYLAND

OUT FOR THE SEASON
OUT
QUESTIONABLE
PROBABLE
VIRGINIA

Out
Doubtful
Questionable
  • Billy Schautz (lower extremity)
Probable
VIRGINIA TECH

Out for Season
Out
Probable

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