College Football Preview: UNC vs. Duke

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 6, 2009

Associated Press
CHAPEL HILL ó Thad Lewis takes every snap recognizing that the defense in front of him knows exactly what’s coming. Yet Duke’s senior quarterback and his fleet of receivers keep racking up yards through the air.
It’s a big reason why the Blue Devils are flirting with bowl eligibility. And if North Carolina wants to inch closer to a possible bowl itself, the Tar Heels’ touted defense will have to stop Lewis in today’s rivalry game.
Lewis rolled through October, racking up four straight 300-yard games and directing the Blue Devils (5-3, 3-1 ACC) to three straight victories ó their longest streak since the 1994 season that ended with their last bowl game. He’s made seemingly every right read, showed strong pocket presence against the rush and has spread the ball around to receivers Donovan Varner, Austin Kelly and Conner Vernon.
The numbers are impressive. Playing in coach David Cutcliffe’s passing attack for a second season, he’s averaging 383 yards passing in the past four games with 10 touchdown passes against just two interceptions ó a streak that has his confidence, he admits, “through the roof.”
Cutcliffe, who groomed both Peyton and Eli Manning in college, has noticed Lewis’ leap.
“It takes confidence as a quarterback to throw the ball where there’s no one there, and that’s what you’re doing a lot,” Cutcliffe said. “That’s why I watch an inordinate amount of time from the end zone when I’m studying quarterbacks. I’m watching the stripe on their helmet, I know where their eyes are from behind. That’s how I can tell you that Thad Lewis has improved. He knows what he’s doing.”