Originally created 11/09/99

Duke deals with season-ending injuries



DURHAM -- Duke not only came out of Clemson last weekend with its worst loss since 1990, but with some season-ending injuries that have the Blue Devils stumbling down the home stretch.

"Everybody's got bumps and bruises at this time of the year," coach Carl Franks said Monday. "We're not any different from any other team."

Duke lost starters B.J. Hill at tailback and Ben Erdeljac at wide receiver, both to torn knee ligaments, during its 58-7 loss at Clemson on Saturday.

Compounding Franks' lineup problems is quarterback Spencer Romine's continuing problems with a sore, swollen foot, bruised during a 25-22 win over Maryland. Romine missed two days of practice before the Clemson loss and may miss more time this week, Franks said.

Franks fretted some over the Blue Devils' lack of scoring punch at Death Valley, but at least the injuries could explain some of that. It was the 58 Tiger points that really bothered him.

"I really can't explain it. But it's a big concern of mine. It bothers me," Franks said. "Our ability to protect the passer wasn't very good. Our ability to tackle and stop the run was pretty poor. Our number of missed tackles was really unbelievable. I still find it amazing when I see it."

On Saturday, the Blue Devils take on a Wake Forest team whose tailback, Morgan Kane, makes defenses pay for missed tackles.

Franks said he's seen the Blue Devils play much better in practice than in games.

"We need to come back out each week and compete the way I see us compete in practice. That same level of competition didn't show up on the field Saturday," Franks said.

Saturday's loss was troublesome, he said, because it was so complete and represented a step backward for a team that had improved fairly consistently each week.

"We haven't played up to my expectations. I don't know why," Franks said. "It's something I try to analyze as a coach. We've shown improvement, offensively, until this last game. We played much better on defense earlier in the year, now we haven't played well for a whole game for a while now."

Injuries could just worsen the situation, he said.

"We need to play more people and develop some depth," Franks said. "That's not the whole reason for our problems, but that's part of it. Developing depth is going to be a critical part of building this football program."