A flop on road, 0-3 Duke hopes to be a hit at home

ACC notebook

College Football

September 23, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

The next time a college football coach complains that his athletic director has saddled him with a schedule that's just too difficult, they might want to first envision what it's like to walk a mile in the shoes of Duke coach Ted Roof.

Aside from the fact that Roof has to recruit with some of the highest academic standards in the country, the Blue Devils are the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year that plays more games on the road (six) than it does at home (five). To top it off, Duke began the 2004 season with three straight road games against three quality opponents in Navy, Connecticut and Virginia Tech. It was hardly a surprise that the Blue Devils lost all three.

"I've never done that before, not that I can recall," Roof said, chuckling. "I hope I never have to do it again. What happens is, the games are scheduled a lot of years in advance. You don't really have any control of how it works out, and I didn't want our players to focus on that at the start of the season. I will say it's awful nice to be coming home."

Duke (0-3) plays host to No. 23 Maryland (2-1) this week as the Terps play their ACC opener, and in what has become a recurring battle for Blue Devils football coaches, Roof is doing his best this week to turn Wallace Wade Stadium into some kind of home-field advantage. Though students will skip class and sleep on the sidewalks for basketball tickets, football tickets are still readily available and sometimes even hard to give away.

"We're e-mailing the students and trying to drum up support," Roof said. "I'll be going to the dining hall [tonight], which has about 600 kids, and eating with them, trying to solicit support. ... We're not where we want to be record-wise, so we need to do our part of putting an energetic, enthusiastic product on the field."

Around the conference

Maryland: Coach Ralph Friedgen said defensive end Kevin Eli is doubtful for Saturday's game after suffering a concussion against West Virginia. Senior Henry Scott will slide outside from defensive tackle to take his place. Middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson also didn't practice yesterday because of a sprained left ankle, but Friedgen said he should be able to play.

Florida State: The "Bowden Bowl" used to be a quirky, fun affair for Florida State coach Bobby Bowden and his son, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden. But over the years, both coaches have come to dread the matchup. This week will be the sixth meeting between father and son, and neither is looking forward to it. Clemson won, 26-10, last season, helping Tommy Bowden keep his job.

"Really from a family standpoint, it's just not fun," Bobby Bowden said. "Picture a mother's perspective. She's got a son that's got to win the ballgame and a husband that's got to win. In terms of Clemson vs. Florida State, it's still good, but in our family, it's lost some luster and excitement of the early days."

Virginia: No one is running the ball better than the three-headed monster of Alvin Pearman, Wali Lundy and Michael Johnson. The Cavaliers lead the league with 911 yards rushing and are averaging 6.2 yards a carry. Coach Al Groh says some of the success stems from a day last spring when he sat his running backs down and made them watch a collection of highlights of NFL runners, and asked them to study the styles of Curtis Martin, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith. "We wanted our backs to be more physical," Groh said. "I said, `I don't want you to pattern yourself after these guys because every back has a different style.' They wouldn't be who they are if they didn't use their natural instincts. But those guys are a pretty good model."

N.C. State: Coach Chuck Amato said that junior quarterback Jay Davis was still his starter after Davis played poorly in N.C. State's 22-14 loss to Ohio State, but that freshman Marcus Stone would also see more playing time. "I think both men are very good quarterbacks," Amato said. "We're going to continue to work with Marcus and get his feet wet. The more competition we can have at all positions, the better."

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