Photo copyright Mark Watson

Coaches All ACC teams releasesd – Cut COY, Devils honored

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Heisman Trophy finalist Jameis Winston of Florida State leads the 2013 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Football Team, as selected by the league’s 14 head coaches.

Winston, the redshirt freshman quarterback whose stellar season has led the top-ranked Seminoles to a 13-0 record a spot in the BCS National Championship Game, was voted the ACC Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Under the auspices of the ACC, the league’s 14 head football coaches voted for an All-ACC football team, as well as Players of the Year, Rookies of the Year and a Coach of the Year award. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players and ballots were worth three points for each first-team, two points for second-team and one point for third-team selections.

Winston was one of three unanimous first-team selections to the All-ACC team (named on all 13 possible ballots). He was joined by national rushing leader and fellow Heisman finalist Andre Williams of Boston College and Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

The 2013 Coaches All-ACC team was similar to the All-ACC squad announced last week by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA), as the two voting bodies agreed on all of the major award winners. Winston is the first freshman to be named the ACC Player of the Year.

In addition to Winston’s four major awards, 2013 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner Aaron Donald of Pitt was voted the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Duke’s David Cutcliffe was voted the ACC Coach of the Year by his peers for the second straight season, and Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller picked up ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Winston, a native of Bessemer, Ala., has thrown 38 touchdown passes to set an ACC and NCAA FBS freshman record. Winston’s 3,820 yards passing are also an FBS freshman record, and his 190.1 passing efficiency rating leads the nation.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Winston has been named a finalist for the Maxwell Award, the Manning Award and the Davey O’Brien Award in addition to the Heisman. He earned six National Player of the Week awards over the course of the regular season.

Pitt’s Donald also earned national attention with his defensive play throughout the Panthers’ inaugural ACC season and has been named a finalist for the Outland Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Rotary Lombardi Award in addition to claiming the Nagurski Trophy earlier this week.

A hometown product of Pittsburgh, Pa., the 6-foot, 285-pound Donald leads the nation with 26.5 tackles for lost yardage (2.2 per game). The senior has forced four fumbles while registering 10 quarterback sacks. Donald has 54 total tackles in addition to 16 quarterback hurries, two pass break-ups and a blocked extra point that proved the difference in Pitt’s one-point ACC win over Syracuse on Nov. 23. His tackles behind the line of scrimmage have resulted in total losses of 130 yards.

Donald received five National Defensive Player of the Week awards, and was twice named the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week. With 28.5 career sacks, he is tied for second among active NCAA FBS players.

Virginia Tech’s Fuller ranks fifth nationally in interceptions with six and is leading the conference with 16 passes defended. The Baltimore, Md., freshman finished the regular season with 56 tackles, including 37 solo stops.

Fuller was named the ACC Defensive Back of the Week on Oct. 28 after picking off three passes in Virginia Tech’s game against Duke. He was again honored as the ACC Defensive Back of the Week on Dec. 2 after intercepting one pass and breaking up four more in a win at Virginia. His efforts helped drive a Hokie defense that ranks third nationally in total defense (296.6 yards allowed per game) and fifth nationally in fewest passing yards allowed (165.8 per game).

Fuller, who started 11 regular-season games and played in all 12, joined brother Kyle as prominent members of Virginia Tech’s secondary. Older brothers Vincent and Corey Fuller previously played for the Hokies and in the NFL.

Cutcliffe, named National Coach of the Year by the Walter Camp Foundation, has guided the Blue Devils to a 10-3 season and the ACC Coastal Division title. Duke’s 10 wins are a school record, and the Blue Devils will be appearing in a bowl game for a second straight year for the first time in program history when they face Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at Atlanta on New Year’s Eve.

The Blue Devils’ 10 wins in 2013 are as many victories as the program had for the 2000 through 2007 seasons combined, prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival in 2008. A native of Birmingham, Ala., Cutcliffe has guided his teams to 31 total wins in his six years at Duke and owns a 75-72 overall record in 12 seasons as a college head coach.

Florida State’s Winston leads a group of 11 Seminoles voted to the Coaches All-ACC team (six offense, four defense, one special team). Duke’s Jamison Crowder was voted to the first team at two positions (wide receiver and specialist).

The ACC champion Seminoles led all schools with 17 total selections on the first, second and third teams. Clemson and Duke both had 10 players voted to the squad, and Miami and Virginia Tech had nine each.

ACC Player of the Year – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

ACC Offensive Player of the Year – Jameis Winston, QB Florida State

ACC Defensive Player of the Year – Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt

ACC Rookie of the Year – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year – Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

ACC Coach of the Year – David Cutcliffe, Duke

2013 ACC Coaches All-ACC Football Team

(Voting points in Parentheses)

First Team

Offense

QB—Jameis Winston, Fr.-R, Florida State (39)

RB—Andre Williams, Sr., Boston College (39)

RB—Devonte Freeman, Jr., Florida State (28)

WR—Sammy Watkins, Jr., Clemson (39)

WR—Rashad Greene, Jr., Florida State (31)

WR—Jamison Crowder, Jr., Duke (31)

TE—Eric Ebron, Jr., North Carolina (38)

T—Cameron Erving, Jr.-R, Florida State (31)

T—Brandon Thomas, Sr.-R, Clemson (23)

G—Laken Tomlinson, Jr.-R, Duke (26)

G—Tre’ Jackson, Jr., Florida State (23)

C—Bryan Stork, Sr.-R, Florida State (38)

Defense

DE—Vic Beasley, Jr., Clemson (35)

DE—Jeremiah Attaochu, Sr., Georgia Tech (29)

DT—Aaron Donald, Sr., Pitt (35)

DT—Timmy Jernigan, Jr., Florida State (33)

LB—Telvin Smith, Sr., Florida State (37)

LB—Denzel Perryman, Jr., Miami (30)

LB—Kevin Pierre-Louis, Sr., Boston College (28)

CB—Lamarcus Joyner, Sr., Florida State (38)

CB—Kyle Fuller, Sr., Virginia Tech (32)

S—Terrence Brooks, Sr., Florida State (33)

S—Anthony Harris, Jr., Virginia (22)

Special Teams

PK—Roberto Aguayo, Fr.-R, Florida State (28)

P—Pat O’Donnell, Sr.-R, Miami (31)

SP—Jamison Crowder, Jr., Duke (27)

Second Team

Offense

QB—Tajh Boyd, Sr.-R, Clemson (27)

RB—Duke Johnson, So., Miami (27)

RB—Kevin Parks, Jr., Virginia (18)

WR—Kelvin Benjamin, So.-R, Florida State (22)

WR—Michael Campanaro, Sr., Wake Forest (20)

WR—Allen Hurns, Sr., Miami (17)

TE—Nick O’Leary. Jr., Florida State (27)

T—Morgan Moses, Sr., Virginia (22)

T (Tie)—Matt Patchan, Sr.-R, Boston College (21)

T (Tie)—James Hurst, Sr., North Carolina (21)

G—Brandon Linder, Sr., Miami (19)

G (Tie)—Josue Matias, Jr., Florida State (15)

G (Tie)—Andrew Miller, Sr.-R, Virginia Tech (15)

C—Macky MacPherson, Sr., Syracuse (10)

Defense

DE—Kareem Martin, Sr., North Carolina

DE (Tie)—Kenny Anunike, Sr.-R, Duke (15)

DE (Tie)—Kasim Edebali, Sr.-R, Boston College (15)

DT—Nikita Whitlock, Sr., Wake Forest (30)

DT—Derrick Hopkins, Sr., Virginia Tech (16)

LB—Christian Jones, Sr., Florida State (26)

LB—Jack Tyler, Sr.-R, Virginia Tech (25)

LB—Kelby Brown, Jr.-R, Duke (17)

CB—Ross Cockrell, Sr.-R, Duke (21)

CB—Kendall Fuller, Fr., Virginia Tech (18)
S—Jeremy Cash, So.-R, Duke (21)

S—Tre Boston, Sr., North Carolina (21)

Special Teams

PK—Nate Freese, Sr., Boston College (22)

P—A.J. Hughes, So., Virginia Tech (19)

SP—Ryan Switzer, Fr., North Carolina (25)

Third Team

Offense

QB—Stephen Morris, Sr., Miami (11)

RB—Jerome Smith, Jr., Syracuse (13)

RB—Roderick McDowell, Sr.-R, Clemson (13)

WR—Kenny Shaw, Sr., Florida State (16)

WR—Tyler Boyd, Fr., Pitt (16)

WR—Alex Amidon, Sr., Boston College (14)

TE—Braxton Deaver, Jr., Duke (8)

T—Seantrel Henderson, Sr., Miami (15)

T—Perry Simmons, Sr.-R, Duke (11)

G—Tyler Shatley, Sr.-R, Clemson (14)

G—Shaquille Mason, Jr., Georgia Tech (13)

C—Shane McDermott, Jr., Miami (9)

Defense

DE—James Gayle, Sr.-R, Virginia Tech (13)

DE—Mario Edwards Jr., So. Florida State (12)

DT—Luther Maddy, Jr., Virginia Tech (14)

DT—Jay Bromley, Sr., Syracuse (11)

LB—Spencer Shuey, Sr.-R, Clemson (12)

LB—Stephone Anthony, Jr., Clemson (11)

LB—Marquis Spruill, Sr., Syracuse (11)

CB—Bashaud Breeland, Jr.-R, Clemson (11)

CB—Kevin Johnson, Jr.-R, Wake Forest (9)

S—Kyshoen Jarrett, Jr., Virginia Tech (15)

S—Durell Eskridge, So., Syracuse (9)

Special Teams

PK—Chandler Catanzaro, Sr.-R, Clemson (15)

P—Will Monday, So.-R, Duke (14)

SP—Stacy Coley, Fr., Miami (10)

Honorable Mention

(8 points or higher)

Offense: RB—David Sims, Sr.-R, Georgia Tech (9); WR—Martavis Bryant, Jr., Clemson (13); WR—Devin Street, Pitt (13); Stefon Diggs, So., Maryland (8); C—David Wang, Jr.-R, Virginia Tech (8); T—Ian White, Sr.-R, Boston College (10); Bobby Hart, Jr., Florida State (8).

Defense: DE–J.R. Collins, Sr.-R, Virginia Tech, (11); Corey Crawford, Jr., Clemson (8); DT—Grady Jarrett, Jr., Clemson (9); LB—Steele Divitto, Sr.-R, Boston College (10); Marcus Whitfield, Sr.-R, Maryland (8); CB—Jabari Price, Sr., North Carolina (8).

Special Teams: PK—Niklas Sade, Jr., NC State (12).

Offensive Player of the Year

Jameis Winston, Fr.-R, Florida State (12); Andre Williams, Sr., Boston College (2)

Defensive Player of the Year

Aaron Donald, Sr., Pitt (7); Vic Beasley, Jr. Clemson (3); Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State (3); Nikita Whitlock, Sr., Wake Forest (1)

Player of the Year

Jameis Winston, Fr.-R, Florida State (10); Andre Williams, RB, Boston College (4).

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Jameis Winston, Fr.-R, Florida State (13), Tyler Boyd, Fr., Pitt (1)

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Kendall Fuller, Fr., Virginia Tech (8); Brandon Facyson, Fr., Virginia Tech (2); Nate Andrews, CB, Fr., Florida State (1); DeVon Edwards, CB, Fr.-R, Duke (1); Jalen Ramsey, S, Fr., Florida State (1); Ryan Janvion, SS, Fr.-R, Wake Forest (1).

Rookie of the Year

Jameis Winston, QB, Fr.-R, Florida State (11); Tyler Boyd, WR, Fr., Pitt (1); Kendall Fuller, CB, Fr., Virginia Tech (1); Ryan Janvion, SS, Fr.-R, Wake Forest (1).

Coach of the Year

David Cutcliffe, Duke (11); Jimbo Fisher, Florida State (3).

SONY DSC

ACC Championship Game Preview: #20 Duke vs. #1 Florida State

SONY DSCDuke vs. Florida State
8:00 PM ET
Saturday, December 7
Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, NC
TV: ABC
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Duke in 2013: 10-2 (Defeated North Carolina 27-25 last time out)
Florida State in 2013: 12-0 (Defeated Florida 37-7 last time out)

DUKE INJURIES
OUT – LB Chris Hoover, S Garrett Rider, QB Thomas Sirk, WR Jack Wise, S Anthony Young-Wiseman
OUT FOR SEASON – OT Tanner Stone, DT Jamal Wallace

FLORIDA STATE INJURIES
OUT – WR Isaiah Jones
OUT FOR SEASON – QB Jacob Coker, OL Ira Denson, WR Jarred Haggins, TE Kevin Haplea, DB Tyler Hunter, LB Matthew Thomas

The dream season continues for the Blue Devils as they will face the #1 team in the country for the ACC Championship Game on Saturday night in Charlotte. The Seminoles represent the toughest opponent of the season for Duke, boasting the nation’s #2 scoring offense and the top scoring defense.

HOW DUKE CAN WIN

Make no mistake, this would be an upset for the ages, but it’s well within the realm of possibility. The Blue Devils will have to play nearly flawless in all three phases, and they may need some more help from the football gods. There will be three essentials to a Blue Devil victory: turnovers, third down, and explosives.

Duke is +3 on the season in turnover margin, including a +6 differential during their current 8-game winning streak. Ball security is paramount against the Seminoles, who lead the country in turnover margin. Florida State’s secondary has tormented opposing quarterbacks all season – just ask the Demon Deacons – and Anthony Boone will have to continue to make sound decisions with the football. Heisman favorite Jameis Winston has thrown just 8 interceptions on the year, but Jim Knowles will have to find ways to give Ross Cockrell and company a chance to add to that total. Duke has to win the turnover battle in order to pull off the monumental upset.

Third down conversions have been another area of dominance for the Seminoles this season. They have converted on over 55% of 3rd downs, while holding their opponents to a success rate of just 29.5%. At times, Winston has been his best on 3rd downs, and the Blue Devils will have trouble matching up with the trio of Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Shaw, and Rashad Greene. With the number of weapons that Florida State has offensively, the best defense for the Blue Devils may be a good offense. Converting on 3rd down and sustaining drives will be critical. The Blue Devils will have to rely on their veteran offensive line to find holes for their running backs, setting up manageable 3rd down distances for Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette. Expect Kurt Roper to try to find ways to move the chains and eat the clock, much as they did last week in Chapel Hill on their 17-play, 95-yard, 8 and 1/2 minutes second-quarter drive. The Blue Devils have dominated opponents in the red zone for much of the season. In the Championship Game, Duke [Brandon Connette] must find their way into the end zone, while getting 3rd down stops and holding the Seminoles to field goals.

For the first time in a long time, Duke has been able to limit explosive plays, but also has the playmakers to create explosives on their own. To win on Saturday, the Blue Devils must keep Winston and his explosive offense in check. That’s easier said than done when you’re facing an opponent with the talent of Florida State. During his time at Duke, Jim Knowles has been the master of a bend-but-don’t-break defense, and that’s exactly what the Blue Devils will need against the Seminoles. Similarly, Duke has to find a way to steal the momentum from the ‘Noles, and a big play or two from Jamison Crowder or DeVon Edwards could be the difference in a close game.

HOW FSU CAN WIN

Control the line of scrimmage, keeping Duke’s running game in check. In last year’s matchup, the Blue Devils managed just 3.1 yards per carry against Florida State in Tallahassee. If the Seminoles can get into the Blue Devil backfield consistently, something few opponents have been able to do this season, it will be a short night for the Duke offense.

Get the ball to your playmakers in space, and the points will continue to pour in. Winston has been very good this season, and he’s helped out by an outstanding group of wide receivers. He’s found them 35 times this year for touchdowns through the air, with his favorite end zone target being the explosive Kelvin Benjamin. But as good as they’ve been through the air, they’ve been even better on the ground. Three different Seminoles have 8 or more touchdowns on the ground this season, and the team has totaled 38 rushing touchdowns.

Keep the momentum away from Duke. An early lead for the Seminoles could put Duke into a hole they can’t climb out of. Against a 4-touchdown underdog, the last thing Florida State wants to do is give the Blue Devils reason to believe. Early turnovers and early touchdowns could bring Duke’s improbable run to a quick halt.

WHY DUKE WILL WIN

Because Duke has already won. This team was picked to finish last in the ACC Coastal Division. Not only did they not finish last, but they went on the road and won in Blacksburg, defeated two ranked opponents, swept the states of North Carolina and Virginia, and secured 10 wins for the first time in school history. Regardless of what it says on the scoreboard, the Blue Devils will leave Charlotte as winners. While Duke has nothing to lose and has found a way to win in close games, the Seminoles have everything to lose and have rarely been tested of late. The odds may seem stacked against them, much as they have all season, but these Blue Devils believe in each other, and they believe they will win. After all they have accomplished, why bet against them now?

2

No matter the outcome vs FSU, Duke Football wins

2No matter what happens when Duke Football takes on the nation’s number one team, the Florida State Seminoles tomorrow, the program has already won.

The Blue Devils are not expected to win tomorrow and they are in fact 30 plus point underdogs, but just getting to the ACC Championship Game comes with plenty of dividends.

Duke is certainly getting their fair due of press of late, especially with Coach David Cutcliffe securing the first of what could be many honors, that being the Walter Camp National Coach of the Year.

But the Seminoles are the most talked about team in college football, ranked number one and dominating all comers.

Just being a part of this game puts Duke Football in a major spotlight and they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Prospects from all over the country will be beamed into what happens on Saturday and Duke has continually improved their recruiting each season in the Cutcliffe era.

Just imagine, how much this game will help. The most talked about team against the newcomer and more importantly a team that has clearly won without the cheating that permeates the game of late.

Duke which has traditionally recruited kids early, could well be in the mix for those high major star-studded prospects waiting to make the big decisions late moving forward.

While Duke Coach David Cutliffe has exclaimed Duke to be a developmental program with concern to recruits, adding a few faster growing seeds open up new possibilities.

Duke is one of 19 major college programs to have ten wins at this time and that is pretty amazing. Those ten wins which are considered a fabulous season by all are going nowhere.

The Blue Devils also stand to reap the benefits of the money involved with the bowl pay outs. Duke has positioned itself to play in a very good bowl.

That translates into money for the program which is in the process of several facilities upgrades, not to mention on the field success helps to open the pockets from needed donations which are key to the process.

Duke is not a school that will go into debt with facility upgrades as Maryland most recently did. So, this seasons success could set up another drive for the private institution.

And then there is the confidence and hunger factor which comes into play. Once you taste winning, you like it and you want more of it.

Right now, the Duke Administration is seeing their re-commitment paying off as the interest in Duke Football is showing considerable improvement.

In fact, look for a much easier push to gain season ticket holders next season for Duke Football is once again cool.

“We’re here to stay,” said Cutcliffe. And I for one, believe him.

Nobody wants to look ahead right now. In fact, Cutcliffe has encouraged all involved to revel in the present and live and breathe each and every moment.

But when the time does comes time to talk Duke Football for 2013-14, one will realize that a major portions of the current roster is back.

So, yes. Duke has already won and they now have an opportunity to put some icing on the cake in their next two games.

A spirited performance against Florida State would work wonders for Duke, but a loss will in no way tarnish the accomplishments to date.

Duke Football is a feel good story this season. And it’s already officially been a special season.

It’s been a season where all involved do not want it to end and it’s been one in which many long time supporters sometimes have to pinch themselves to make sure it’s real for it has been a process.

Duke Football has suffered in the past for sure but that trend no longer seems to be in play with Cutcliffe and company at the helm.

But perhaps the most satisfying thing, is that again, this team has done it without cheating or short cuts.

They are a disciplined bunch who plays together and truly like each other.

All fans of character should enjoy the success for the program is all about that.

And now? The program is about winning too.

Coach Cutcliffe 11-16-13

Coach Cutcliffe named 2013 National Coach of the Year

Coach Cutcliffe 11-16-13DURHAM, N.C. –

Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe has been named the 2013 National Coach of the Year by the Walter Camp Foundation, announced on Thursday by the organization.

The Walter Camp Coach of the Year is selected by the nation’s 125 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors.

“Coach Cutcliffe is more of a mentor than a coach to me and the rest of my teammates,” redshirt junior quarterback and team captain Anthony Boone said. “It’s been great, just learning how to be a better quarterback and a better man. What makes him special is that he actually cares; that he’s a genuine guy. Everything he says, you can take to heart.”

Now in his sixth year at the helm of the Duke gridiron program, Cutcliffe has guided the Blue Devils to a 10-2 record this season including the ACC’s Coastal Division championship. The 10 wins are the most in school history, bettering the previous standard of nine set by the 1933, 1936, 1938 and 1941 squads.

The ACC’s Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013, Cutcliffe guided Duke to its first ranking in the BCS standings and jumped four spots to No. 20 following last week’s 27-25 road win over North Carolina. Also ranked 20th in this week’s Associated Press national poll, the Blue Devils will face top-ranked Florida State in the 2013 ACC Championship Game on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. The game will be televised nationally by ABC.

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Cutcliffe has guided the Blue Devils to 31 victories in his five-plus seasons after Duke managed just 10 wins in the previous eight years.

Cutcliffe, along with members of the 2013 Walter Camp All-America team, will be honored at the organization’s national awards banquet on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at the Yale University Commons in New Haven. In addition, the Foundation will recognize three individuals – former Notre Dame and Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann (Distinguished American) former Penn State and Oakland Raider standout lineman Matt Millen (Man of the Year) and former North Carolina All-American Ken Huff (Alumnus of the Year) – with major awards.

Walter Camp, “The Father of American football,” first selected an All-America team in 1889. Camp – a former Yale University athlete and football coach – is also credited with developing play from scrimmage, set plays, the numerical assessment of goals and tries and the restriction of play to eleven men per side. The Walter Camp Football Foundation – a New Haven-based all-volunteer group – was founded in 1967 to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and to continue the tradition of selecting annually an All-America team.

The Walter Camp Football Foundation is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients.

Walter Camp Coach of the Year recipients
2013 – David Cutcliffe, Duke
2012 – Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
2011 – Les Miles, LSU
2010 – Chip Kelly, Oregon
2009 – Gary Patterson, TCU
2008 – Nick Saban, Alabama
2007 – Mark Mangino, Kansas
2006 – Greg Schiano, Rutgers
2005 – Joe Paterno, Penn State
2004 – Tommy Tuberville, Auburn
2003 – Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
2002 – Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
2001 – Ralph Friedgen, Maryland
2000 – Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
1999 – Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
1998 – Bill Synder, Kansas State
1997 – Lloyd Carr, Michigan
1996 – Bruce Snyder, Arizona State
1995 – Gary Barnett, Northwestern
1994 – Joe Paterno, Penn State
1993 – Terry Bowden, Auburn
1992 – Gene Stallings, Alabama
1991 – Bobby Bowden, Florida State
1990 – Bobby Ross, Georgia Tech
1989 – Bill McCartney, Colorado
1988 – Don Nehlen, West Virginia
1987 – Dick MacPherson, Syracuse
1986 – Jimmy Johnson, Miami
1985 – Fisher DeBerry, Air Force
1984 – Joe Morrison, South Carolina
1983 – Mike White, Illinois
1982 – Jerry Stovall, Louisiana State
1981 – Jackie Sherrill, Pittsburgh
1980 – Vince Dooley, Georgia
1979 – John Mackovic, Wake Forest
1978 – Warren Powers, Missouri
1977 – Lou Holtz, Arkansas
1976 – Frank R. Burns, Rutgers
1975 – Frank Kush, Arizona State
1974 – Barry Switzer, Oklahoma
1973 – Johnny Majors, Pittsburgh
1972 – Joe Paterno, Penn State
1971 – Bob Devaney, Nebraska
1970 – Bob Blackman, Dartmouth
1969 – Bo Schembechler, Michigan
1968 – Woody Hayes, Ohio State
1967 – John Pont, Indiana

Rodney Hood vs Michigan, Lance King for BDN

Cook, defense lead Blue Devils past Michigan, 79-69

Rodney Hood vs Michigan, Lance King for BDN
Rodney Hood vs Michigan, Lance King for BDN

The best, most aggressive man-to-man defense played by Duke this season shut down Michigan for much of the evening, and Quinn Cook dominated the game from the point guard position, scoring all 24 of his points in the second half, leading the Blue Devils to a ten-point win over the Wolverines tonight in the Big 10/ACC Challenge game in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Other than the Davidson game, where the opponent was not nearly as talented as is Michigan, this was Duke’s most complete performance of the year, as lots of guys contributed to beating a talented, well-coached, and athletic Wolverine team in convincing fashion.

Offensively, it was Rodney Hood early, Andre Dawkins middle, and Cook late, along with Jabari Parker throughout, who led the way.  Things were a bit sluggish early, which prevented the Blue Devils from opening an even bigger lead than they did, as Michigan struggled mightily to put the ball in the hole over the first  16 minutes of the game, scoring only 11 points.  They finished the half with only 20.  Hood nailed a number of jump shots to get Duke going, Amile Jefferson came alive on the interior, and Tyler Thornton banged home two three’s in the first half, though one should have been disallowed as it was after the shot clock had expired.

But the story in the first half, and indeed for much of the game, was Duke’s defense.  It suffocated Michigan for most of the evening.  Leading scorer Nik Stauskas scored a grand total of zero baskets on the night, on just two field goal attempts, just getting a few free throws to avoid the goose-egg.  He was harassed all night by Thornton, Matt Jones, and Hood, and didn’t get a good look at the basket in the entire game.  Glenn Robinson III, who was supposed to be the star of this year’s Michigan team, was invisible for much of the night, and had essentially no impact on the game.  He finished with just 8 points and 3 rebounds.  Seems like he kind of misses Trey Burke.  Big man Mitch McGary was effective, but far from dominant.  He plays from the high post, and because of that he doesn’t take full advantage of his size and strength — something that could have been a big plus against either Josh Hairston or Amile Jefferson on the interior.  McGary is active, though, and he ended up with pretty good numbers — 15 points and 14 boards, though it must be said that he got 8 of his points (and 3 of his rebounds) in the last two minutes of the game, when Michigan was already down 18 and it was gobbage time.  Michigan’s best player tonight was sophomore swingman Caris LeVert, who drove effectively all night and made tough, contested shots.  LeVert finished with 24.  He’s a keeper.

Duke led by 10 at the half, but couldn’t put Michigan away early in the second.  The Wolverines cut the lead to six at the nine minute mark before Dawkins came in stone cold and banged home consecutive three-pointers.  After LeVert hit a couple of free throws, Cook nailed a three and Dawkins then hit a driving layup to put the Devils up by 15 with under 7 to go.  Time out, Michigan.  Game over.

But it was Quinn Cook who really controlled this game.  He handled the ball well, with only two turnovers — and one of those was dribbling the ball off his foot without being pressured, resulting in a backcourt violation.  He didn’t force anything.  He dished to the open man, he got his teammates involved, he swished his open three pointers, and most importantly he kept his head in the game, remaining positive even during the team’s dry stretches.  Sure, he picked up a T for throwing the ball at Michigan big man Jon Horford after Horford shoved him out of bounds unnecessarily, but Cook didn’t get flustered by that either.  Quinn Cook was a leader tonight.  When Cook plays like this, there are very few lead guards in the country better, and it just brings the entire Duke team to a whole ‘nother level.

It was also great to see Duke get contributions from so many players.  Of course, Jabari Parker was the anchor down low offensively, and he scored his 15 points in a variety of ways:  turnaround J’s, post-ups, reverses, and one stunning coast-to-coast take where it was clear from about 60′ away that he was going all the way to the hoop and nobody was stopping him.  As noted earlier, Hood shot the ball pretty well in the first half.  Matt Jones provided solid defense on Stauskas, as did Thornton.  In addition to his work in the lane on the offensive end, Amile Jefferson was very active on the boards — which he has not always been this year — grabbing six in only 17 minutes.  Good sign.  And lo and behold, Marshall Plumlee not only made a couple of appearances, he had real positive impact on this game.  He blocked a shot, displaying excellent timing in doing so.  He took a pass from Cook at an awkward spot under the backboard and contorted his body in a way so he could get the shot off smoothly, and he banked it in.  Athletic play.  He only fouled once, while grabbing three boards in six minutes of action.  Undoubtedly, Coach K will still play him situationally, depending on opponent, score, and foul status of Jefferson and Hairston, but still, nobody should be surprised if Marshall gets a little more run going forward.  He may have earned a little trust tonight.

All in all, this was a very solid performance from the Blue Devils all around.  The home winning streak against non-conference opponents is intact.  But much more importantly, the team appeared to take a big stride forward here.  I know they’re young and still finding their way without Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., but Michigan is a quality opponent with a lot of weapons.  Yet this Duke team, which gave up 90 points very recently to Vermont, essentially neutered the Michigan offense for most of the night, and got contributions from nine guys (although not Rasheed Sulaimon, who very curiously got a DNP-CD) in doing so.

It was said by many that this year’s team, rather than being fully formed from the beginning as was, say, last year’s squad, will be a work-in-progress.  Many said, correctly, that K will need to do some heavy lifting here to figure out how to make these pieces fit, to teach the team to play the kind of defense he demands, to figure out what combinations can best do that, to determine how to integrate two (or more) outstanding newcomers into the mix, all against a very difficult early season schedule, and all in the glare of a heavy media spotlight.  Work-in-progress?  Yes, but consider tonight as progress.