[private]1- Wear Blue! -The word is out and the word is blue! Coach Cutcliffe spent the summer doing all he could to promote Duke Football. The latest, if you haven’t already hear is to show up for the game wearing your Duke Blue. “I expect to see a sea of blue,” said Coach Cutcliffe during his most recent press conference. What to watch for- The students have been moved back to the home side and will be behind the players for the first time in years. It will be interesting to see if the cheers are coordinated in the sea of blue.
2- Get there early! Duke is expecting a big crowd and more traffic than usual. Duke will have a team walk from the Chapel to Wallace Wade, where fans are invited to get involved. Duke will also have kid activities and music. It’s always fun to walk about the multiple tailgates too. It’s a new season and a new tradition and it starts with you, the Duke fan! What to watch for- Coach Cutcliffe has promised a new game day experience. This includes a secretive new way of the team entering the stadium. Stay late for fireworks and at halftime Coach K and Duke Olympians will be honored. Also, the students are notoriously late in years past. Will this change?
3- Concessions- Sounds odd? Well, Duke has not been prepared for large crowds in the past and this year studies have been made to keep this from happening. What to watch for – Will they run out of H20 before halftime in what might prove to be a humid evening?
4 – Atmosphere and Emotion- It’s clear that Duke wants the typical game day atmosphere you get at some other schools. Much work has gone into the planning and you can bet there will be changes, perhaps even a little noise to elicit cheers. This is not an opera folks! So, don’t worry about the polite claps and feel free to let out a scream or two. Bring your yahoo in and leave your worries of what others might think at the gate. Crowd emotion drives the players, player emotion drives the crowd. Let’s get emotional! What to watch for – When it’s third and one on offense or defense, will the crowd be passive or a little amped up?
5 – James Madison- JMU has been known to hit a team square in the mouth from the outset. They possess quickness and confidence and desperately want this win. The Dukes are ranked no lower than 3rd in the country in any Division I-A poll and 1st in two. Last years edition was one of the youngest under Coach Mickey Matthews and they all return. This team lost by one point to Appalachian State in last seasons Championships and had it won if not for a late turnover. What to watch for- Will JMU come into the game with a swagger? More importantly, will they leave with one?
6 – James Madison on offense- Expect to see an offense that spreads the ball around a lot. Their backfield runs a lot of motion and fakes and is as hard to prepare for as the option. Quarterback Rodeny Landers will run and run and run. He’s big and hard to tackle and will be the center of attention at all times. JMU has several players capable of making big plays with their speed. What to watch for -If Duke shows the ability to contain the run, how accurate can Landers be in the air? He completed 63% of his passes last season and threw for 12 scores. Will Eugene TB Holloman run roughshod over the Duke defense?
7- James Madison on defense -These guys like to stack the box and try and shut down the run. In last seasons loss to UNC, JMU effectively shut down the run, ultimately losing the game to turnovers. This team will play a lot more physical than many expect. What to watch for -JMU feels their secondary is a strength. Can they shut down a Duke team that will likely pass more this season?
8 – Duke on offense -There is a new sheriff in town and he his own deputies in tow. Duke will spread the ball around tmore this season and go to Eron Riley often. Thaddeus Lewis has shown the ability to be a leader and the offensive line has improved. Al eyes will be on the running game where there are depth issues and freshman or newcomers slated to get reps. What to watch for -Coach Cutcliffe wants to see a crisp offense ran to precision. Can Duke run the ball enough to take pressure off Thaddeus Lewis in the pocket and will the offensive line hold up?
9- Duke on defense- Duke has a pretty good starting lineup, but will be breaking in a new safety which is a critical position. Depth as always is an issue. Tackling has been better than I remember in the pre season and a slimmed down unit should be quicker to the ball. During the pre season, Coach told the players to treat the ground like a hot stove. “You can’t make a play if you are on your back,” said Cutcliffe. The defense will be the most interesting said that it was not the attention of the media in the pre season. What to watch for -Coach Cutcliffe knows there is little depth on the front and in the linebacker positions. Will this unit hold up for an entire game?
10 – Special Teams -It got to the point last season where I would close my eyes on field goals and extra points. Nick Maggio has proved to be consistent in practice and will get the call. Punting has been a pleasant surprise in the pre season. As for coverage, it will make or break a team in close contests. What to watch for – Will Coach call upon Maggio in short yardage situations or elect to go for it. This is one area that needs consistency for the teams confidence and to win close games. How improved will this unit be under Coach Middleton? A good kickoff or punt return could prove to be a huge spark. As important, will they allow JMU good field position or the big play on the other end.
11- The fourth quarter - Much has been made about off season conditioning and Coach has alluded to having enough in the tank to be able to win a game in the fourth quarter and or finish. What to watch for -A score. Fourth quarter points were as scarce as sell outs for the past several seasons. Can Duke take a game from beginning to end?
12- Intangibles -This category is perhaps the most important. (A) Turnovers - This might decide the game on Saturday evening. Duke must protect and value the ball. (B) Clock Management – This always applies, but the NCAA has a new rule and Duke must get up to the ball in a timely manner (C) Penalties - Face it, Duke has not been disciplined in the past and shot themselves in the foot on many occasions. Precision and attention will be important all season long. (D) The sidelines - All too often in the past, the Duke sideline looked emotionless with many players hanging around talking about classes and after game affairs. (E) Resilience – This is a key to being a winner. Can Duke bounce back after being down? Can they drive the nail into the coffin when they are up? What to watch for – All of the above![/private]