• 63°

Winless Blue Devils hoping to turn it around against Virginia

By Hank Kurz Jr.

AP Sports Writer

Virginia is finally set to open its season after three scheduled openers were scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall said the Cavaliers are ready.

“We’re anxious to play football,” Mendenhall said this week, noting that by his calculations, his team has been back on campus for 12 weeks. The coach said the game against Duke (0-2, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) will be “a reward for all their hard work,” not only in practice, but in how they have managed the virus.

The Cavaliers have had no positive test results.

Facing a team that has already played twice could be viewed as a disadvantage, Mendenhall said, because the Blue Devils’ games have ostensibly allowed them to fine-tune some early season kinks.

But Virginia wide receiver Terrell Jana believes the Cavaliers have an edge, too. They are going with lefthander Brennen Armstrong at quarterback, and he played sparingly the past two seasons as the understudy to Bryce Perkins, leaving Duke without much film to study.

“All this time before our first game has been time to get more catches, more reps, more rhythm, to be in touch more, I think, as a team and just for all the quarterbacks to get more reps with all the receivers,” Jana said.

The Blue Devils have struggled thus far, losing 27-13 at No. 7 Notre Dame and 26-6 at home against Boston College, a game in which they turned the ball over five times.

It’s only the second time in David Cutcliffe’s 13 years at Duke that the Blue Devils have lost their first two games.

“Do we need consistency? Absolutely,” Cutcliffe said. “Do we need a little bit more hunger? Absolutely. … We will attack the problem. We’ve never run away from any issues since we’ve been here, and we’re certainly not running away from this one.”

Some other things to watch when Duke visits Virginia:

BRENNAN’S TIME

Armstrong won a battle for the starting quarterback job with Mississippi State transfer Keytaon Thompson, once one of the nation’s most highly regarded dual-threat prospects. The redshirt sophomore completed 15 of 20 passes last season with one touchdown and two interceptions and ran for 74 yards on nine carries.

HARASSING QBS

The Blue Devils could give Armstrong trouble as they have gotten strong production from their defensive front in two games. Duke ranks eighth nationally by averaging 4.5 sacks in two games, including six against Boston College.

WAYNE’S WORLD

Virginia is thin at running back, but Wayne Taulapapa, last year’s starter, is back. He ran for 473 yards, but also 12 touchdowns, last year. His best game came against the Blue Devils when he gained 77 yards and scored twice.

CLEARING MISTAKES

Duke lost three fumbles and had two interceptions thrown by Chase Brice. Two turnovers came with the Blue Devils inside the Eagles’ 5-yard line.

Comments

Crime

Mother, son killed in weekend homicide

Ask Us

Ask Us: What are plans if hospitals reach COVID-19 capacity?

Elections

County tops 38,000 ballots cast during early, absentee voting

Elections

Political Notebook: Rowan Board of Elections receives more than 60,000 pens for voters

Nation/World

New storm Zeta a hurricane threat to Mexico, US Gulf Coast

Crime

Blotter: Teenager charged with felony firearm and drug offenses

Elections

GOP slowly gaining nationwide as early vote total surpasses 2016

Local

BlockWork returns for 10th year of beautification

Local

Big Chili Cook Off changes format, sells 250 tickets

Lifestyle

Kiwanis Club names five recipients of Centennial Awards

Lifestyle

Rowan County bridge dedicated to local police officer who made ultimate sacrifice

Local

Camp Barnhardt to host drive-in movie, trick-or-treat

Business

Spicing things up: Mise En Place food truck finds success serving Indian fare

Lifestyle

Church foundation distributes record amount of money

Business

Biz Roundup: ‘Forward Rowan’ continues to draw support, raise money

Education

School board set to vote on Faith, Enochville closures Monday

Health

Local health officials worry pandemic will cause long-term effects for children’s health

Local

Ordinance change needed to address night train noise in Salisbury

Elections

Election 2020: Heggins, Warren talk racial injustice, economy

News

Cunningham keeps low in NC Senate race marked by his affair

BREAKING NEWS

Two bodies found in home on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Man arrested in Kannapolis plotted to kill Biden, found with guns, explosive material, court documents state

Local

Flagger clipped by vehicle, taken to hospital with minor injuries

Coronavirus

County finishes week with five deaths, one of 36 to receive letter from state health officials