Duke-Texas A&M Preview
Duke is facing quite a one-two punch to end its breakout
The 22nd-ranked Blue Devils struggled against eventual Heisman
Trophy winner Jameis Winston and No. 1 Florida State in the ACC
Now they must find a way to stop last year’s Heisman winner,
Johnny Manziel, and No. 20 Texas A&M (8-4) in the Chick-fil-A
Bowl on New Year’s Eve in what is expected to be Manziel’s final
”When we found out our matchup, we were all pumped about it
because it’s awesome to play against a guy that exciting and an
offense that good,” Duke linebacker Kelby Brown said. ”It’s a
chance to make a statement for ourselves, and it’s just fun. It’s
the nature of a competitor.”
There isn’t a whole lot the Blue Devils (10-3) can take from
their preparations for Winston and the Seminoles that they can put
to use against Manziel and the Aggies because they have different
styles and run different offenses.
Duke linebacker David Helton, who has an ACC-leading 122
tackles, says Winston and Manziel are ”two different
Winston ”is definitely a scrambler as well, but he’s not as
much of a scrambler as Manziel is,” he added. ”Manziel is built
on scrambling. … He likes to sit back there and kind of make
magic happen, whereas Winston is more of a bigger guy and he likes
to sit in the pocket a little bit more than Manziel does. Different
mindsets for both of them.”
Manziel hasn’t revealed his plans for the future, but most
believe the redshirt sophomore will declare for the NFL draft next
“I’m not going to reflect on that until it is his last game,”
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “All I can tell you is what
he’s done for the university up to this point (is) well-documented.
His numbers speak for themselves. He is without a doubt the most
exciting player in America.”
Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy last
season and came in fifth in this year’s voting. He has been largely
unavailable to the media this season.
Manziel will have a new play-caller in the bowl game with Sumlin
announcing that co-offensive coordinator Jake Spavital will take
over sole duties as offensive coordinator and call plays in place
of Clarence McKinney, who is also running backs coach.
The Aggies were expected to contend for a national championship
this season, but instead finished 8-4 – 0-4 against ranked
opponents – and are coming off consecutive losses to LSU and
”If we can win this game, it’ll be the first time in the
history of this program we’ve won three bowl games in a row,”
Sumlin said. ”That’s significant. There’s been a lot of football
games played and a lot of guys come through this room who can’t say
they’ve done that. That can be real special for our seniors and it
can really propel us in the offseason.”
Beating a Heisman winner would give Duke’s big season another
stamp of legitimacy.
The Blue Devils set a school record for wins, beat two Top 25
opponents, captured their first Coastal Division title and became
the only team to shut out the Seminoles in the first quarter before
losing 45-7 in the league title game.
”Once you play against the best and you play against somebody
else, you can look at it and say, `OK, we played against the best,
so what (else) is there out there?”’ freshman cornerback DeVon
Edwards said. ”If we do good against them, we should do good
Duke quarterback Anthony Boone, whose first career loss as a
starter came in the ACC title game, says there’s no temptation to
try to outduel Manziel because ”that doesn’t win football
”Guys like that are going to put up numbers. To try to go out
there and compete with them is where I’ll try to do too much and
mistakes will happen,” Boone said.
Boone had three turnovers while Winston accounted for four
touchdowns and 389 total yards in Charlotte.
The Blue Devils are eager to get back on a big stage, atone for
that performance and prove something to their doubters.
”What people are seeing right now is that we got beat really
bad by Florida State, and maybe they’re thinking, ‘Well, Duke can
hang in with most teams but not with that top tier,”’ Brown said.
”I think no one would argue that Texas A&M isn’t one of those
top-tier teams, so it’s another chance for us to show that we
belong up there.”
Duke has suspended rushing leader Jela Duncan from school for an
undisclosed violation of its academic policy. Duncan rushed for 562
yards and three touchdowns this season and caught 13 passes for 123
yards and a score.
Texas A&M has suspended standout freshman linebacker Darian
Claiborne after he was arrested Sunday on two drug possession
charges. Claiborne is tied for the team lead with 89 tackles.