Duke senior kicker Joe Surgan has taken much criticism for missing field goals in nearly all the close losses Duke suffered in 2006 and 2007. Surgan also had missed his share of extra-point kicks to get demoted early last season. So it was refreshing to see him nail a career-best 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Instead of being down seven at the half, Duke trailed 24-20.
Duke sophomore Nick Maggio will kick field goals for Duke up to about 50 yards – he made a career-best 46 yarder in the first quarter, but Duke coach David Cutcliffe said he'd let Surgan, who handles kickoff duties, use his strong leg beyond that.
It would be hilarious if Duke football, now experiencing some success with a 2-1 record, also developed one of the trappings of that success: A late-arriving crowd. The 25,082 fans who showed up at Wallace Wade Stadium, on Military Appreciation Day, didn't get into their seats until after the first quarter. Duke had 32,571 in the stadium for a win against James Madison in its opener and 23,614 in last weekend's home loss to Northwestern. Just so long as it's a crowd, Cutcliffe probably won't mind. Despite the heat, most were still around to cheer the Blue Devils' victory.
The ACC rarely has given Duke well-timed bye weeks in this decade. That's what happens when you don't compete in the ACC. But Cutcliffe is OK with a bye after three weeks. Duke's next game is at home against Virginia on Sept. 27. The Blue Devils' second bye week is a week later after a road game at Georgia Tech on Oct.4.
As good as Duke looks now, the final seven-week stretch, with road games at Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech, will show how far the Devils must go to execute a power move on the ACC.
Luciana Chavez covers Duke for the (Raleigh) News & Observer.