Duke quarterback Sean Renfree has accomplished a lot in his career. He leads all active ACC players in the most 300-yard performances with nine and is tied for the ninth-highest total in ACC history. In 33 games, six of which he was a backup, Renfree has averaged 225.2 yards per game passing. He has thrown for 7,430 yards, currently good enough for 22nd place on the ACC career list and fifth on Duke’s career passing list. His 700 career completions rank him just outside of the ACC’s career Top 10.
He just hasn’t been able to beat Wake Forest.
Duke has lost to Wake Forest 12 straight times -- a streak the Blue Devils would like to snap this weekend. Duke is already halfway to a bowl game, but the focus right now is on the Deacs. I spoke with Renfree recently about this series and the season so far. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
What has plagued you guys against Wake Forest since you’ve been at Duke?
Sean Renfree: Certainly Wake Forest is a phenomenal team, don’t get me wrong, but we find ways to beat ourselves. We’ve always been close late in the game. When you look at the stats afterwards it’s always turnovers and getting off to a slow start. We stop ourselves. I’m not taking anything away from Wake Forest, though. They’re a very competitive team in the ACC, but if we can play as good as we can play, I think we have a great opportunity to beat Wake.
How badly do you want to beat them this year?
SR: As bad as any year. Whenever we play Wake, they’re right down the road and we’re pretty evenly matched as far as talent, and they always find a way to squeak past us. It’s a game we always look forward to.
What are some of the keys to this week’s game?
SR: Offensively, running the football effectively, and I think we’ve done that the past couple of weeks. That gives us a good start. Putting up points, I think we can do that a lot if we run the ball effectively and throw the ball downfield. I think we’ll have a good shot to win.
What has been working well for you guys through the first four games?
SR: Just playing as a unit. Sometimes offensively we’ve gotten off to a slow start to a lot of our games and our defense has done a phenomenal job slowing opponents down early and then smothering them later. It’s made things very difficult to score on our defense and special teams as well has played a large roll. Usually by the end of the game we’re playing well as a unit, all three phases.
How much are you guys thinking about the fact you are halfway to a bowl game?
SR: To be honest with you no thought whatsoever has gone into it. Nobody has talked about it and nobody should be talking about it. We’ve got a lot of other goals in mind. Certainly going to a bowl is one of them, but there’s a lot more work that needs to go in before anybody can be talking about going to a bowl game.
What is your main focus right now, aside from obviously beating Wake Forest?
SR: We haven’t played any ACC games. Obviously we want to win as many as we can and play for a championship. From here on out we play all ACC teams. We have quite a challenge there. Also to win all of our home games, to be undefeated at home. There are a lot of other goals that will help us eventually get to a bowl game that we have to accomplish first. Certainly beating Wake Forest is Step 1.
Because you guys are off to your best start since 2008, do you sense some momentum? Do you feel this year is different, that you’re really a better team?
SR: Certainly we feel some momentum. We do feel like we’re a better team. We’re not going to go say this is a special year because it’s early in the season and seasons are long and they’re a process. We have to get better as the season goes on if we want to reach all of our goals.
How do you feel like you match up against Wake Forest’s defense?
SR: I think we match up pretty good. We’re an older group of guys, they have some older guys as well. They’ve got a lot of playmakers on defense. So do we on offense. If we can execute, I think we’ll match up very well, but it all comes down to how well we can run the ball and execute the passing game.