More needed from all involved
His defense gave up just sixty-seven yards rushing and turned Northwestern’s offense one dimensional. The Wildcats had to throw it sixty times (seventh-most in Northwestern history) to reach 435 passing yards and the Blue Devils broke up an astonishing fourteen of those passes. But Duke football head coach Mike Elko said in his weekly press conference his team’s pass defense must get better, “That was something we’ve got to do a better job with. We’ve got to be a little bit more sound in our assignments and what we’re trying to do from an execution standpoint. We’ve got to do a better job as coaches of getting us in better positions to be successful.”
Elko is bothered by giving up fourteen catches for 213 yards to Wildcat running back Evan Hull. One of those was for a thirty-nine yard touchdown where the Duke defense looked confused as Hull slipped out of the backfield and was left wide open. It does not matter if Hull’s totals are a result of quarterback Ryan Hilinski having to throw underneath most of the game, it still speaks to Elko’s belief everyone involved with the defense, players as well as coaches, must do a better job with pass coverage. A defense should never give up fourteen catches to any receiver.
Level of play needs raised
While his team may be playing an FCS opponent this week (North Carolina A&T), Elko said there is an emphasis on getting better in this area, “That’s kind of the challenge this week, is elevating that part of the defense.” But he makes it clear he is pleased with his team’s effort so far, “I’m happy with how hard we’re playing. I’m happy with how hard we’re competing. We just have to make sure that we continue to work and get better every day.”
Although I believe the defense is a strength of the team, it is still a work in progress in some ways. They are not a complete defense yet, but they’re getting closer and closer.