It’s a start. Temple’s offense may not be good at all, but after giving up 477 points a year ago, the shutout Friday night is a good sign for Duke football and a defense that shows promise.
The thing I liked most is they were aggressive and flew to the ball. That is exactly what you want to see. The Duke defense did not look tentative and unsure in any way. I’m a firm believer a defense must attack an offense and either stop them from doing what they want or make them do it sooner than they want. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith’s troops did just that. In his press conference posted to goduke.com, head coach Mike Elko was pleased,
"“We played well. I thought we challenged our guys to be physical and they were. I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage, and I thought our d-line really, really set the tone and controlled the line of scrimmage.”"
Saying they controlled the line of scrimmage is an understatement. Led by DeWayne Carter’s 1.5 tackles-for-loss, the interior of the Blue Devil defensive line wreaked havoc all night. They harassed Temple quarterback D’Wan Mathis constantly and blew up run plays time and again. Carter and Ja’Mion Franklin combined for the team’s only sack, and junior Aeneas Peebles was credited with three quarterback hurries-the second time in his career he’s had multiple hurries in a game. Michael Reese led the defensive ends with three tackles, half a tackle for a loss, and a quarterback hurry. The Duke defense combined for six quarterback hurries in all. If you can’t get a sack, make the quarterback throw the ball before he wants. The Blue Devils did a great job of this Friday night.
Dorian Mausi and Shaka Heyward combined for eleven tackles to lead an active linebacker group. They weren’t just stout against the run, they each had a pass breakup as well. Backups Nick Morris, Jr. and Cam Dillon had five tackles between them and laid some hard hits on Temple ball carriers. Dillon forced a fumble with one of those hits.
The Blue Devil defense was so dominating, they not only got a shutout, they did not allow Temple to advance closer than the Duke thirty-seven yard line in giving up just 179 total yards. Mausi talked about the mindset of the defense after the game,
"“Well going into the game this time, we weren’t really thinking about the end part that’s what he told us not to do. He told us to go in there and focus on the now. Go into the game with our head down and by the time we look up at the end of the game, it’s going to be the result that we want. So that’s what happened, and we feel good about it now.”"
They are going to play offenses that are far better and present much more of a challenge, but after giving up all of those yards and points a year ago, a shutout is a great way to kick off a new season for the Blue Devil defense.