Football season is coming and fast as evidenced by the fact that the ACC media will gather in Charlotte this week to discuss the 2017 campaign.
Duke hopes to get back to a bowl game again this season and to doing so while possible will be difficult in a tough conference. The Blue Devils return 12 starters from a season ago and will be a young team at several key positions.
The Blue Devils had been to four consecutive bowl games before that streak was broken a season ago. Duke is expected to be picked 6th in their division once votes are cast but their fortunes could be better in the Coastal race.
Here are a few pre season notes and information heading into Media Day for the Blue Devils.
- Daniel Jones had a break out season after replacing the departed and formerly injured Thomas Sirk at the start of last season. Jones was thrown directly into the fire and after a slow start showed immense promise moving forward. Jones will take his first snaps this season with much more experience.
- The wideouts pretty much return intact and there is more depth at this position than in years past. Duke has experience at Tight end to go with talented newcomers as well.
- The offensive line should come together at least where the starters are concerned.
- The Linebackers are solid with depth in the two-man starter scheme.
- Coaching should be better as many on the staff had a season to get their feet wet in competition after a year that featured major change.
- While the offense returns a lot of players on paper, the unit has to score no less than 7 more points from a season ago to compete.
- The defensive front will build depth as it goes and is very young.
- The defensive backfield is young as well and will break in new starters. Having a young unproven front and back is not an ideal situation.
- The kicking game was abysmal a season ago. There are some newcomers hoping to help, but the team must find a kicker that can knock down a 40 yard and in FG on a moderately consistent basis.
- As far as freshman who are most likely to start during the season we'll tab WR Scott Bracey Jr. on the offensive side of the ball. A redshirt freshman has the skill set to compete early on for a starters spot. On defense, look for true freshman DE to possibly start from day one or after a few games into the season.
- Duke will also need to build running back depth quickly with two freshman high on the depth chart behind senior Shawn Wilson.
- Duke will send QB Daniel Jones and DB Byron Fields to ACC media day as team representatives this Friday.
- Duke opens the 2017 season with three consecutive home games before travelling to North Carolina for an early season ACC opener with its arch rival.
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White announced on Monday the school and head football coach David Cutcliffe have agreed to a contract extension through June 30, 2021.
“Simply put, Duke University is terribly honored and very proud to have one of the truly pinnacle football coaches in the country leading the Blue Devil program into the next decade,” said White. “To be sure, what Coach Cutcliffe has accomplished over nine seasons at Duke is nothing short of extraordinary! With David’s innovation, vision, passion, not to mention well-seasoned expertise, our student-athletes will continue to enjoy, both academically and athletically, the very best – actually the ‘gold standard’ – experience within the broader enterprise that is college football.”
Hired on December 15, 2007, Cutcliffe has directed the Blue Devils to 52 wins over nine seasons – 42 more victories than the program’s cumulative total for the previous eight years (2000-07). He has twice earned ACC Coach of the Year honors (2012 & 2013), and was the National Coach of the Year choice by five major outlets following the 2013 campaign when Duke won a school single-season record 10 games, captured the ACC’s Coastal Division championship and appeared in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival, Duke had played in eight total bowl games and never appeared in postseason contests in consecutive seasons. In succession from 2012-15, the Cutcliffe-led Blue Devils participated in four straight bowl games. A 44-41 overtime triumph over Indiana in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 26, 2015, provided the school’s first bowl victory since a 7-6 decision over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl on January 2, 1961.
Off the field, Cutcliffe’s nine-year tenure at Duke has produced ACC-leading totals for Academic All-ACC selections (67), National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award recipients (4), AFCA Good Works Team honorees (7), ACC Jim Tatum Award choices (4) and Academic All-America picks (5). In addition, Duke secured the AFCA’s annual Academic Achievement Award in both 2014 and 2015 to push its nation’s-best total to 14.
Cutcliffe is a native of Birmingham, Ala., 1976 graduate of the University of Alabama and 2016 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame inductee. After coaching at his alma mater, Banks High School, he served 19 seasons (1982-98; 2006-07) on the staff at Tennessee and six years (1999-04) as the head coach at Ole Miss. Cutcliffe has participated in 26 bowl games (1982 Peach, 1983 Florida Citrus, 1984 Sun, 1986 Sugar, 1986 Liberty, 1988 Peach, 1990 Cotton, 1991 Sugar, 1992 Fiesta, 1993 Hall of Fame, 1994 Florida Citrus, 1994 Gator, 1996 Florida Citrus, 1997 Florida Citrus, 1998 Orange, 1998 Independence, 1999 Independence, 2000 Music City, 2002 Independence, 2004 Cotton, 2007 Outback, 2008 Outback, 2012 Belk, 2013 Chick-fil-A, 2014 Hyundai Sun and 2015 New Era Pinstripe), and owns a 5-4 record in bowl contests as a head coach.
Good recruiting is the lifeblood of any athletic program. Duke Football continues to get verbal commitments from some of the nation's top players under David Cutcliffe. Once again, the Blue Devils are off to a fast start with concern to the Class of 2018 where they have six verbal pledges early in the process.
The gem of this class to date, may very well be Taj Rice. Listed at 6-3, 285 pounds, Rice could be a game changer from his defensive end position. The Louisville, Kentucky native chose DukeGang, a term many use, over some of the nation's top schools. Rice is a solid four star product but Cutcliffe and his staff rarely put emphasis on ratings as much as they do good fits.
The Blue Devils have certain kinds of young men they go after these days. One of the things they look for are the type of young men who will fit into a steady concept. The program is becoming known as one which develops its players and one where some have a chance to play right away if they have what it takes.
By creating a family atmosphere, Duke seems to be avoiding some of he pit falls with concern to bad off field conduct. They are straight forward with young men, telling them what to expect and delivering on that vision. That in turn, has turned into solid classes year in and year out as the program continues to reach for new heights.
Over this past weekend, Duke secured the service of Zamari Ellis, the top Tight End prospect in the state of North Carolina. Cutcliffe mentioned that he wanted to get in state kids into the program but that last seasons crop just did not have the right fits.
Standing 6-4 and weighing in at 240 pounds, Ellis has proto typical TC size. Ellis was a good fit for Duke and vice versa. Ellis was needed for future roster outlooks in that Duke uses this position as a strength on its offensive schemes.
Duke also secured he services of another North Carolinian in Gunnar Holmberg. One of the Blue Devils earliest pledges is a quarterback for Heritage HS in Wake Forest which is just down the road from Durham. The Cap 8 co-offensive player of the year will get to work under the guidance of Cutcliffe who has developed the Manning brothers, amongst others.
The Blue Devils went north for wide receiver Jake Bobo of Belmont, MA. A tall target at 6-4 and growing was pursued by Duke assistant coach Jim Knowles. Duke has had a lot of success getting players in the fold who attended their camps and Bobo is one of those young men.
Duke loves to recruit players from the south and the state of Georgia. They added another good one in OL, Casey Holman. Another Duke assistant Jeff Farris land, Holmon has good size at 6-4, 285. Holmon is yet another Junior Day visit success for Duke and he will be a factor in time at Duke.
Staying in the state of Georgia, Duke secured the future of CB, Taiyon Palmer. at 6-0, 167, he could use a little more weight as he gets older. But he makes up for that with speed and pop. Palmer is the type of athlete the program loves to get in the fold and mold. Palmer was recruited by Derek Jones, who knows what he wants as a coach, Palmer should become a welcome member of what the Blue Devils call the Cheetahs which is a name of their defensie backs.
Duke is in the running for many more prospects and are working it on the trail as I type. If the start is any indication, the staff is once again filling their needs and going toe to toe with the nations best in recruiting.
All of the current Blue Devils pledges are three star and above athletes by the various rating services.
DURHAM, N.C. – Defensive tackle Mike Ramsay returned a fumble 90 yards for a touchdown and wide receiver Aaron Young caught two passes for 79 yards to highlight Duke’s 65-snap scrimmage on Saturday morning at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium.
In addition to his touchdown, Ramsay added one quarterback sack and one caused fumble. Duke’s defense also received contributions from cornerback Brandon Feamster (2 PBUs), defensive end Tre Hornbuckle (1 fumble recovery), defensive tackle Twazanga Mugala (1.0 sack) and linebacker Koby Quansah (3.0 TFL & 1.0 sack).
“I thought one thing the defense always brought was the intensity,” Quansah said. “We’ve started to communicate more. Everybody is talking. We have our check downs and assignments, and the big thing is really our communication. I’ve seen our offense get more physical, especially in the trenches. The offensive linemen are getting after it. They go from a hit on the defensive linemen and then try and bounce right back to us [as linebackers]. We’ve definitely been getting physical.”
Quarterback Daniel Jones was four-of-eight passing for 65 yards while Quentin Harriscompleted four-of-nine throws for 92 yards, including a six-yard scoring toss to tight end Davis Koppenhaver. Both of Young’s receptions – covering 38 and 41 yards – came from Harris. Running back Brittain Brown spearheaded the ground attack with 24 yards on five carries.
Also on Saturday, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe recognized the program’s five award winners from spring practice: tight end Bronson Bruneau (Blue Devil Heart Award), Hornbuckle (co-Most Improved Defensive Player), safety Jeremy McDuffie (co-Most Improved Defensive Player), running back Shaun Wilson (co-Most Improved Offensive Player) and Young (co-Most Improved Offensive Player).
Duke opens the 2017 season at home against N.C. Central on September 2. Season tickets may be purchased by calling the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at 919-681-BLUE or online at GoDuke.com/FootballTix.
DURHAM, N.C. – Kicking off with the annual Employee Appreciation Day when the Blue Devils host N.C. Central in the Bull City Gridiron Classic on September 2, Duke has set its promotional themes for the 2017 season.
In week two, Duke will host Northwestern on September 9 for Youth Day and Durham Day. One week later, the Blue Devils entertain Baylor to celebrate Homecoming, Unity Day, Cheer Day and Former Player Day. Closing out the month on Friday, September 29, Miami visits Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium for Scout Night and Youth Sports Night.
Duke’s home contest against Florida State on October 14 features Band Day and Teacher Appreciation Day. On October 21, Pitt travels to face the Blue Devils for Family Weekend and Iron Dukes Day. The final home game of the regular season, a November 18 tilt with Georgia Tech, will serve as Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day.
Season tickets are available online at GoDuke.com or by calling the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at 919-681-BLUE.
2017 Duke Football Schedule (2016 Record; Bowl game)
2 – ^N.C. CENTRAL (9-3; 10-9 loss to Grambling in Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl)
9 – #NORTHWESTERN (7-6; 31-24 win over Pittsburgh in New Era Pinstripe Bowl)
16 – *BAYLOR (7-6; 31-12 win over Boise State in Motel 6 Cactus Bowl)
23 – at North Carolina (8-5; 25-23 loss to Stanford in Hyundai Sun Bowl)
29 – +MIAMI (9-4; 31-14 win over West Virginia in Russell Athletic Bowl)
7 – at Virginia (2-10)
14 –% FLORIDA STATE (10-3; 33-32 win over Michigan in Capital One Orange Bowl)
21 – ~PITTSBURGH (8-5; 31-24 loss to Pittsburgh in New Era Pinstripe Bowl)
28 – at Virginia Tech (10-4; 35-24 win over Arkansas in Belk Bowl)
4 – Open date
11 – at Army West Point (8-5; 38-31 win over North Texas in Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl)
18 – &GEORGIA TECH (9-4; 33-18 win over Kentucky in Taxslayer Bowl)
25 – at Wake Forest (7-6; 34-26 win over Temple in Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman)
^Employee Appreciation Day
#Youth Day/Durham Day
*Homecoming/Unity Day/Cheer Day/Former Player Day
+Scout Night/Youth Sports Night
%Band Day/Teacher Appreciation Day
~Family Weekend/Iron Dukes Day
&Senior Day/Military Appreciation Day