Coach Cutcliffe addresses the media after Duke’s final preseason scrimmage

DURHAM - BDN was on hand for the Blue Devils' final scrimmage of the 2012 preseason, in which the first-team offense scored 7 touchdowns on 7 possessions. In his comments, Head Coach David Cutcliffe was very pleased with his team's effort on Tuesday night. He also speaks of his disappointment at the NCAA's decision to deny transfer Jeremy Cash immediate eligibility, and talks about Duke's Red Zone offense.

Renfree Efficient In Final Duke Scrimmage

DURHAM, N.C. – Redshirt senior quarterback Sean Renfree completed all 10 of his pass attempts for 235 yards and two touchdowns in Duke’s final gridiron scrimmage.  The Blue Devils open the 2012 season on Saturday, September 1 at home against FIU.

Renfree hit tight end Issac Blakeney for a 15-yard scoring toss before closing his night’s work with a 75-yard touchdown pass to wideout Conner Vernon.  The Renfree-to-Blakeney tandem also hooked up for a 68-yard completion.

Backup quarterback Anthony Boone was four-of-four through the air for 72 yards with a pair of touchdowns.  Rookie signal caller Thomas Sirk, operating the second unit and the first string defense, was seven-of-17 passing for 68 yards while rushing seven times for an additional 41 yards.

Duke’s ground game was paced by junior Juwan Thompson, who picked up 72 yards on six attempts, while redshirt sophomore Josh Snead contributed 47 yards on six carries including a five-yard touchdown.  Redshirt sophomore quarterback Brandon Connette added two rushing touchdowns on the night.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe announced that Duke’s appeal to the NCAA for immediate eligibility for transfer Jeremy Cash has been denied.  Cash enrolled at Duke in January after spending the previous two semesters at Ohio State.

BDN Monday Musings – “Meet the Devils” event sparks fan interest

Duke QB's Renfree, Boone and Connette BDN Photo

Mark your calendars for October 19th and 20th, for that will be a heck of a weekend for Duke Athletics. On Friday, October 19th the always popular Countdown to Craziness event kicks off the basketball season, and the following day Duke hosts arch rival North Carolina in football. While schools can kick off the basketball season a week earlier with Midnight Madness-type events, Duke is not doing that this year, so CTC was moved back a week in Durham. Regardless, there will be little sleep for the BDN staff as we cover all the events, as we have in seasons past.

Coach Cut is ready for some football - Photo Mark Watson, BDN

The Meet the Blue Devils football event went down this past weekend, as 1500 Duke fans turned out to meet this season's team. Fans got a chance to mingle with players and coaches while seeing the positive changes in the football facilities. Duke unveiled its team posters (ripe for autographs for the youngsters) along with the new helmets and new season ticket plans.

Duke Women's Soccer is hot and ranked #2 in the nation. The team crushed Elon this past weekend, and they next take to the field in the UNC Nike Classic on August 24th at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill.

Be sure to check out our BDN Open Group Facebook Page where we load a lot of photos in an environment that more or less acts as our free message board. Of course, BDN's only true message board is reserved for premium members, who have full site access where they get all the latest inside tidbits and nuggets on the program, as well as a place to discuss recruiting with other members. Here is a link to the Facebook site, where you can see photos from the latest scrimmage and Meet the Devils Day. BDN Facebook Group

A steady stream of fans stood in line to get Coach Cut's autograph this weekend. - BDN Photo

Speaking of photos, BDN has long used our own photographers, and we do not mind others using our pictures -- provided proper credit is given. All of our photos are copyrighted, and we enjoy bringing you up close and personal with Duke Athletics through the medium. But far too many other sites are now using photos without permission and without crediting the original source. If you want to use our photos, please contact us beforehand. Most recently, we had to remove two photos from a gambling site whose operators felt it was their right to swipe them and tag them as their own.  It's not.

On a related subject, it's becoming more apparent to me that on today's web, it can be hard to tell the difference between opinions offered without benefit of real on-scene access and reporting, and opinions offered by those who do have the benefit of firsthand views of a program.  The BDN staff regularly attends all Duke athletic functions and media events. Our team is in the trenches doing the work, enabling us to present an "eyes on" view of the subject matter. Why am I mentioning this? There is a growing trend out there of "reporters" and self-styled "insiders" offering what I'll generously term "borrowed information." A recent blog post came to our attention that consisted of BDN reports being simply copied verbatim, with a few minor word changes, and being passed off as the blogger's own work. The bottom line is that you can trust what you read here as being original in every way. We like what we do, and we make the effort to get out there to cover Duke athletics in a comprehensive, professional, and honest way.

Back to the on-the-field stuff:  The September 1 home opener against Florida International looms, and it should be a good one.  For those unfamiliar with the Panthers, they return 18 starters from a season ago, when they were a bowl team.  The problem with playing an upstart program is that many fans underestimate teams they haven't heard that much about, setting themselves up for surprise and disappointment when they realize these guys can play.  I can tell you firsthand that Duke will have to bring their "A" game to beat this team.  Adding to the pressure is that, given the difficult schedule the Blue Devils face this year, many are already coining this a "must win."  I think Duke will be ready but they'll need the 12th man, meaning a fired-up home crowd, to come out of the gates strong this year and get a win against a quality opponent.

Have a good Monday folks.

BDN goes 1-on-1 with Duke scrimmage stars Lee Butler and Garett Patterson

DURHAM - The Blue Devils held their second scrimmage of training camp on Friday night, and BDN was on hand to talk to two of the stars of the game afterwards. After being granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA, veteran Lee Butler is back at cornerback and ready to have a big final year for the Blue Devils alongside Ross Cockrell. For the second straight scrimmage, Butler came away with an impressive interception. A former cornerback for the Blue Devils, Garett Patterson was recently moved to wide receiver during training camp, where he starred for the offense on Friday night. The redshirt-junior hauled in 5 catches for 80 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown.

Lee Butler


Garett Patterson

Connette scores 2 TDs and other observations from Duke scrimmage #2

Brandon Connette scored both through the air and on the ground on Friday night - BDN Photo

DURHAM - We'll start where we did on Monday. Health. On Friday, the Blue Devils were not nearly as fortunate as they were on Monday, seeing several key players go down with injuries throughout practice. Three safeties went down during warm-ups, LB David Helton was injured on the opening kickoff, and during the scrimmage, Kenny Anunike, Jamal Wallace, Sydney Sarmiento, and others, were banged up. Fortunately, after practice, Coach Cutcliffe felt all the injuries were minor and does not expect anyone to miss significant time at this point. Among players who have been sidelined with injuries, DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo appears closest to returning. LB Britton Grier continues to play with a cast on his arm. LB Kelby Brown continues to participate in drills, but remains non-contact.

Now, to what we saw on the field. While each scrimmage this week was just a snapshot in time, taking the two together gives a better idea to the development of this Duke team. For example, Brandon Connette and Desmond Scott, both playing new positions this fall, looked much more confident on Friday than on Monday. Connette finished the day with 2 touchdowns, a 15-yard reception and a 36-yard run. Scott hauled in 6 catches for 39 yards. Perhaps the biggest story of the night was the newest Blue Devil to transition to WR, former CB Garett Patterson. Patterson, whom BDN spoke to after the game, is playing WR for the first time since high school and hauled in 5 catches for 80 yards, including a 49 yard touchdown.

Looking at the two scrimmages together, there is no question that Duke's defense was much improved from Monday to Friday, and senior CB Lee Butler agreed after the game. At times on Friday, the defense was nearly dominant, forcing three and outs, forcing a fumble, and coming away with 2 interceptions. The contributions came from all over the field. Butler made another acrobatic interception. Freshman LB Deion Williams looks like a player who is ready to contribute this fall. CB Tony Foster came away with the second interception. Redshirt-freshman LB Kyler Brown was again a force in the middle of the Blue Devil defense, especially with Helton going down early.

Senior Desmond Scott appeared more confident at WR on Friday night - BDN Photo

Some of the young players are still learning the ropes. Freshman WR Anthony Nash fumbled on a reverse and struggled to get open all night. Freshmen RB Jela Duncan and Shaq Powell were both good, but unable to break the big run expected from them. Up front, Carlos Wray, Keilin Rayner, and Michael Mann all looked like they could be playmakers down the road, but will have to be more consistent. After a big game on Monday, TE Issac Blakeney was a non-factor on Friday; conversely, TE David Reeves looked better overall on Friday night.

Special teams continue to look special. Ross Martin was perfect, connecting from 43 and 48 yards. Will Monday was able to punt the ball where he wanted in drills and game simulations. After a bobble, Tim Burton broke off a kick return for a touchdown, showing off his tremendous speed once he found a seam. Of course, the success in the return game could indicate that kick coverage might be an issue, but given that Duke has been a pretty good coverage team in recent years, I think the credit goes to the return men. They have to prove they can do it under game pressure, but the special teams unit looks like a group that could win Duke a game or two this fall.

In the least important category, Duke wore their black helmets in the scrimmage, paired with blue and white practice jerseys. The scrimmage on Friday was much more of a game atmosphere, with a small crowd of parents in the stands, the team rushing onto the field at the start, and even an abbreviated halftime. The Blue Devils' final scrimmage of training camp will be next Tuesday evening and is closed to the public.

Duke hosts their annual Meet the Blue Devils day in Pascal Field House today at 6:00 PM. Free posters and autographs are available to all who attend, as well as the opportunity for photographs with the 2012 Blue Devils.

Coach Cutcliffe comments

BDN Weekend Notebook – Still celebrating Gold and Meet the Devils in Football

What an exciting time of year this has been for Duke fans. Coach K has returned from London with his blokes in tow -- that's assistants Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, mate --  and with Gold. And football is just two weeks away from kickoff ...

You need a map and compass to keep up with the various appearances Mike Krzyzewski has been making since he returned from the other side of the pond. Amazingly, Coach was the first one in the Duke Basketball offices the day after he got back, which is a testament to his dedication and hard work. Here at BDN, we're still trying to figure out ways of saying thanks for all that he does.

Meet the Devils goes off tomorrow at the Paschall Field House at around 6:00 PM. Paschal is the new facility in the end zone of Wallace Wade, and once you see it you will know that Duke Football is making the necessary moves to compete in the increasingly difficult ACC. This is a serious facility. Free posters, refreshments, drawings for prizes and such will take place. It's a great time to meet the football team in an "up close and personal" environment, and you'll be able to take pictures with your favorite players as well.  Come on out if you can!

Staying with the pigskin, check out this in-depth question and answer feature on the ACC Sports Journal web site, where BDN Football Analyst Patrick Cacchio chats with Jim Young about the Duke program and this year's team. Jim made no bones about putting Patrick on the hot seat, and our man predicts a 5-7 season against a pretty dern tough schedule, both in and out of conference.  For instance, Duke has to face Florida State and Clemson from the other division, while UNC gets Maryland and Wake Forest.

The pressure is already building  for the opener against Florida International, who returns 18 starters from a season ago, when they went to the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.  The Panthers dominate the Phil Steele Preview Magazine's All-Sun Belt pre-season team, with 10 players on first or second team.  In last season's meeting down in Miami, the Panthers badly outgained Duke in total yardage, but the Blue Devils prevailed because they did not turn the ball over and they capitalized on FIU's only turnover to pull it out late by the score of 31-27.  Undoubtedly seeking revenge, the Panthers will have their ears pinned back and be ready to rumble; in many circles FIU will be considered the favorite.  It will be a heck of an early test for the Devils, and they'll need Wallace Wade to be packed and ready.

Patrick also has an interview up where he recaps the latest Duke verbal commitment, California running back  Joseph Ageigbe.  This is verbal number fifteen for the program, which really does seem headed in the right direction.

With all of that going on, Andrew Slater's latest interviews have been flying a bit under the radar at BDN Premium. Slater has set the gold standard when it comes to getting to know these hoops prospects.  One recent post profiles The Rockwell Rifleman, Austin Grandstaff who is a young combo guard out of the Dallas area that we talked to at the Nike Peach Jam and then followed up with in Las Vegas.  Then there's the Rebel with a Future, KavonLooney, a good-looking prospect from Milwaukee who has been catching the eyes of many scouts.  There is also Explosive Potential-An interview with Robert Hubbs focussing on the Tennessee wing who continues his rise in the rankings, and finally the star wing out of Houston is profiled in And Justise for All-The Justise Winslow interview.  As a paying subscriber you have full access to all of these articles and can talk recruiting and more on our members-only message board, where you will get all the latest scoop.

BDN will cover today's closed session football scrimmage and we'll have photos galore. Be sure to check out the previous pictures from Photo Day here and we will be adding more as time allows.