2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Richmond at Duke
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Sept. 3 Richmond 23 … at Duke 21
CFN Analysis: Richmond might be a good, strong FCS team, but there’s no excuse for the Duke offense not to work. The running game was solid with Juwan Thompson and Desmond Scott forming a strong 1-2 punch, but Sean Renfree was strangely average completing 23-of-33 passes for 201 yards with Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner only combining for 138 yards on 12 catches. The defense did its part allowing just 95 rushing yards and a 14-of-31 passing day from former USC QB Aaron Corp, but the Blue Devil offense simply didn’t produce. That’s a problem with Stanford coming up next.
(AP) DURHAM, N.C. -- Garrett Turner rushed for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down with 10:12 remaining to help Richmond beat Duke 23-21 on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Spiders, members of the Football Championship Subdivision, beat the Blue Devils of the ACC for the third time in the last six seasons.
Will Snyderwine missed a 28-yard field-goal attempt that would have given Duke the lead with 1:43 remaining. And, after forcing a punt on Richmond's last possession, his 60-yard kick on the final play of the game also came up short.
Richmond's Remington Hinshaw missed his extra-point try wide right after Turner's touchdown, leaving the door open for Duke's late game-winning attempts.
Aaron Corp passed for 193 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Richmond. Trey Gray added eight receptions for a career-high 129 yards.
Desmond Scott rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown for the Blue Devils.
The lead changed on four consecutive possessions in the second half, but the Spiders held on for their third consecutive win in the series. Richmond defeated Duke 13-0 in 2006 and triumphed 24-16 over Duke in 2009.
Wayne Lineburg picked up a victory in his first game as Richmond's interim head coach. Lineburg replaced Latrell Scott, who resigned Aug. 23 after being charged with driving under the influence.
Lineburg, who had been Richmond's offensive coordinator, maintained his duties on that side of the ball. His offense capitalized on its opportunities, something Duke failed to do throughout the game.
The Blue Devils came up empty on half of their trips inside the red zone, including at the end of the first half when time ran out before they could try a field goal.
Two turnovers by Duke deep in its own end allowed Richmond to take a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Corp threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Barnette on the first play of the second quarter after a lost fumble by Duke quarterback Sean Renfree, opening the scoring.
Scott tied the score 7-7 with a 29-yard touchdown run less than two minutes later, but Brandon Braxton lost a fumble on Duke's next possession. The Spiders capitalized with a 29-yard field goal by Hinshaw for the three point halftime advantage.
The Blue Devils warmed up in their traditional blue jerseys and white pants, but they returned from the locker room with a new look. Duke's players donned black jerseys and black pants, running back onto the field as "Back in Black" by AC/DC boomed out of the speakers just before kickoff.
Whatever boost the Blue Devils received from their new look quickly wore off. Renfree tripped while dropping back for his first pass of the game, throwing the ball out of bounds and drawing a flag for intentional grounding. Duke managed 35 total yards on its first four possessions.
Richmond (0-0) at Duke (0-0) Sept. 3, 7:00, ESPN3.com
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Here’s The Deal … Take four. After three seasons in Durham, Duke has shown progress under David Cutcliffe, winning two more games over that time than in the previous eight years combined. Still, a return to the postseason for the first time since 1994 remains elusive for the Blue Devils. A return to action means a clean slate and a chance to once again begin scaling the bowl-eligibility mountain. If Duke has any hope of reaching six victories, it’ll have to deliver when it’s favored, especially at Wallace Wade Stadium. Richmond has won its last two meetings with the Blue Devils, so there’ll be trepidation about making the trip south to face an ACC team. The 2008 FCS National Champs went in reverse in Latrell Scott’s debut, going 6-5 and missing the playoffs for the first time in three years. The Spiders are determined to rebound, despite being picked in the middle of the Colonial Athletic Association pack in the preseason.
Why Richmond Might Win: The Spiders offense was never right a year ago in large part because of injuries to the quarterback. However, now that former USC transfer Aaron Corp is healthy again, the staff feels its offense is about to explode. Corp, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, has an NFL arm, which he’ll unleash in the direction of top receiver Tre Gray. The two-time All-CAA pass-catcher will enjoy an edge over a suspect Duke secondary that yields too many big plays through the air. Plus, the Spiders can balance their attack with the bruising between-the-tackles running of Kendall Gaskins, a versatile 228-pound fullback.
Why Duke Might Win: The Blue Devils’ calling card this season will once again be the passing game. True to his track record, Cutcliffe has upgraded the talent level at quarterback in Durham. Duke is bringing back one of the ACC’s premier hurlers, Sean Renfree, and four players who pulled in at least 34 passes a year ago. He’ll can dent an average Richmond secondary in a number of different ways, including darts to wideouts Connor Vernon and Donovan Verner, short strikes to TE Cooper Helfet and dump-offs to RB Desmond Scott. The Devils’ corps of receivers is one of the conference’s better-kept secrets of 2011.
What To Watch Out For: When Duke wants to really put Richmond back on its heels, it’ll summon Brandon Connette from the sidelines. Part-quarterback and part-running back, he was the program’s most effective rusher toward the end of last season. As an effective change-of-pace to Renfree, he carried the ball 78 times for 321 yards and eight touchdowns. The sophomore will be mixed in to complement the passing attack again this fall.
What Will Happen: The offenses will dominate in a game featuring a couple of talented quarterbacks and a bunch of quality receivers. Neither defense is particularly stout, which will add to the fireworks. Renfree has a bright future, aided by the fact that he’s been mentored by Cutcliffe for the past few seasons. The quarterback will keep his Blue Devils one step ahead throughout an entertaining game, burning the Spiders for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards through the air.
CFN Prediction: Duke 34 … Richmond 24
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