The offense scored on its first drive, the defense pitched a shutout, Riley Leonard started 15 for 15, and head coach Mike Elko got his first win. A new era of Duke football got off to a rousing start with a dominating 30-0 win over Temple. In his postgame press conference posted to goduke.com, Elko could not hide his excitement,
"“What an amazing night to be part of the Blue Devil football program. Amazing turnout from our student section, an amazing atmosphere in that stadium.”"
Any resemblance to last season’s porous defense is gone. Blue Devil defenders were aggressive, flew to the ball, and made things miserable for the Temple offense. Nobody is going to mistake Temple for an offensive juggernaut, but I don’t think anyone was expecting a shutout. The Owls were limited to just twelve first downs and 179 total yards. The last time a Duke a defense had a shutout was against FCS opponent North Carolina Central in 2015-the last shutout against an FBS team came in, are you ready for this?….1989! Elko said,
"“For those guys, for everything they’ve been through, to come out here tonight and pitch a shutout in the opener, that was pretty special. Very happy with our defensive guys and how they played.”"
The offense exploded out of the gate and scored in just five plays on their opening drive. New starting quarterback Riley Leonard completed his first fifteen throws on the way to finishing the night 24-30 for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Moore showed the kind of weapon he can be the first time he touched the ball when he turned a short completion into an electrifying 51-yard gain. The receivers as a group displayed playmaking ability. I thought the offensive line was a bit inconsistent at times, but they gave up just one sack and paved the way for 172 rushing yards. His offense may have put up 500 yards, but Elko is most happy they didn’t turn the ball over,
"“For us to do it that way, given the recent track record, that was just awesome. For us to go out there and not turn the football over was really exciting.”"
Elko seemed almost overwhelmed by the support his team received from the student body,
"“From the starting point, we asked a lot of people to believe in where this program could go, and it was just awesome to see the students come out like they did tonight. It’s something that is really special, and if we want this program to go where we want it to go, that’s just got to continue. So happy that those guys came out to support us tonight – I thought that was awesome.”"
There is most certainly work to do. The offense got a bit sloppy in the second half and the kicking game needs to be better. But Friday night’s win is reason to be encouraged and excited about the Duke football program again.