Duke head coach Ted Roof is no fan of moral victories, but there are a few positives to take from the disheartening 24-21 defeat at East Carolina.
1) Ground Game
Duke moved the ball reasonably well on the ground against the Pirates, accumulating 162 yards on the ground. Led by Justin Boyle, who had 53 yards to go along with two touchdowns, Duke showed some positive signs with their rushing attack. There's certainly room for improvement, however. Boyle's second quarter fumble after a bobbled exchange with quarterback Mike Schneider spoiled a golden opportunity to score a touchdown. Senior Cedric Dargan showed flashes of his talent, ending the day with 49 yards. Curt Dukes, when he got his chances, also contributed to the rushing productivity, effectively running a few option plays.
All in all, special teams was a disaster for Duke against the Pirates, but Drummer povided the biggest play of the day with his 100-yard kick return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Along with Chris Davis, Drummer will give opponents a second return man to be concerned about in the future. His only drawback in the game was that he appeared a little too antsy to make another big play after the touchdown return. East Carolina resorted to a lot of short, high kicks to keep the return game in check, and Drummer nearly caused disaster a couple of times trying to be aggressive with the short kicks, but at least those were mistakes made out of effort. He also showed good ability as a pass receiver out of the backfield.
3) Curt Dukes
While Mike Schneider struggled in the opener, Dukes showed that he could move the offense when called upon. Though he didn't light up the scoreboard, not completing a pass in two attempts, his mobility brings a vastly different style of play to Duke's offense. His running ability provided Duke a couple of good plays, and also deserves credit for the long run Deon Adams had late in the third quarter on a reverse play that started as an option to the right. It may be premature to say that there is a quarterback controversy brewing, but Dukes had a solid showing.
Though the Duke defense struggled in many areas, Bailey played a solid overall game. The linebacker racked up 11 tackles and also was involved in forcing two fumbles by East Carolina.