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Duke vs. Troy: what worked, what needs work and what's next

Brandon Connette continues to settle in as Duke's quarterback. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

Duke (3-2)

Beat Troy 38-31

Game story
Game notes
Sidebar on Josh Snead, courtesy of Jack Daly

What worked

For the third consecutive game, quarterback Brandon Connette showed significant improvement and comfort in his role as the starter. After accounting for six touchdowns last week, he added another five Saturday, three through the air and two on the ground. He finished 20-of-28 (71.4 percent) for a career-high 324 passing yards and added 55 rushing yards on 17 carries.

More on Duke WR Max McCaffrey

Max McCaffrey has already exceeded his last-year production this season for Duke. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

If you saw today's N&O sports section, you saw the above picture in the middle of the front page. In case you didn't, here's a link to my profile on Max McCaffrey. Highlights include...

• Early football memories with his dad, former Denver Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey

• His family history at Duke

• Working with Scottie Montgomery, Duke's current wide receivers coach who was Ed's backup in Denver for a time

• and more.

In a world full of hyper-specialization and combine-type testing for kids starting in middle school, it was refreshing to see someone who just plays sports—plural—to have fun.

Four takeaways from Spring practice

Expect to see a lot of Max McCaffrey this season. Credit: LIZ CONDO

Duke wrapped up its spring practice period with the annual Blue vs. White game Saturday (recap here if you missed it ). And, to formally bid goodbye to Spring football, here are four more thoughts.

••• There are shades of Conner Vernon in Max McCaffrey

First, a reminder of the definition of the word “shade:” a slight amount of something. McCaffrey is young (rising sophomore) and inexperienced (181 snaps as a freshman and two catches, both at FSU), so it remains to be seen how his spring improvements will transfer to an actual game. But he’s drawn rave reviews and established himself as the clear No. 2 headed into the fall.

Duke football: Q&A with offensive coordinator Kurt Roper

Kurt Roper instructs the Duke offense with quarterback Anthony Boone nearby. Credit: TAKAAKI IWABU

Duke football has one more week of spring practice before the April 13 spring game in Wallace Wade at 4 p.m. (open to the public, by the way). In anticipation of that event, I chatted briefly with offensive coordinator Kurt Roper about what's been happening with the offense.

What have you guys been doing on the offensive side of the ball this spring?

Duke held to a season-low 232 yards, but Max McCaffrey has career day

 

It was a tough day for the Duke offense, as neither quarterback Anthony Boone (7) nor injured starter Sean Renfree could generate any momentum. Credit: STEVE CANNON, AP

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Duke was held to a season-low in both total yards and passing yards. But one Blue Devil had the most productive day of his young career.

Entering the game, freshman wide receiver Max McCaffrey had zero catches. By the time the first half was over, he had two.

McCaffrey, the son of 13-year NFL veteran Ed McCaffrey, caught the two longest passes Sean Renfree threw. The first was a 13-yard completion on Duke’s opening drive, and the second was a drive-extending, 18-yard catch on third down on the Blue Devils’ lone scoring drive.

McCaffrey said he didn’t know ahead of time that he would play a bigger role in the offense.

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