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Cavaliers preparing to face revived Duke offense

Prior to Duke's 34-31 victory over Navy last week, the Blue Devils offense had been mired in a bit of a slump. Against Miami on Oct. 16, Duke compiled 292 total yards, including only 187 passing yards. For a pass-happy offense such as the one the Blue Devils implement, that was concerning.

Then Duke played at Virginia Tech on Oct. 23 and recorded just 208 total yards, only 116 of which came through the air. Yikes.

But against Navy, the Blue Devils registered 456 total yards. Duke quarterback Sean Renfree -- who has thrown 15 interceptions this season -- completed his first 16 passes and finished 28 for 30 on the day. Renfree threw for 314 yards, one touchown and no interceptions.

"It's an offense where the receivers run certain routes and they sit in holes and pockets and there's a high opportunity for completions," said Virginia Coach Mike London, whose team will play at Duke on Saturday. "So you try to do some things to take (Renfree) out of his rhythm ... They spread you across the field horizontally and make you defend a bunch of gaps. He does a great job of throwing the ball and making you fill those gaps and then go tackle those players."

Cutcliffe said the coaching staff simplified Duke's offense heading into the Navy game in an attempt to take some of the pressure off Renfree's shoulders. "I think Sean responded well to that," Cutcliffe said.

Duke possesses a talented duo of wide receivers in Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner, who rank No. 1 and No. 7, respectively, in the ACC in receiving yards per game.

Another factor the Cavaliers are preparing for is the threat of reserve quarterback Brandon Connette running the ball out of the backfield. Connette has taken on a larger role in Duke's offense in the past three games, during which he has scored two rushing touchdowns and averaged 10 carries per contest. He is the team's third-leading rusher and leads the team in rushing touchdowns.

By Steve Yanda  | November 3, 2010; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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