Category Archives: Duke Football

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Duke at Pittsburgh Preview

DSC_0088Duke at Pitt
12:30 PM ET
Saturday, November 1
Pittsburgh, PA
TV: ESPNU
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 92 and XM Ch 194

Duke in 2014: 6-1
Pitt in 2014: 4-4

DUKE INJURIES

PROBABLE – Jamal Wallace (DT)
OUT – Johnathan Lloyd (CB), Trip McNeill (OL)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Taariq Shabazz (DE)

PITT INJURIES

QUESTIONABLE – Aaron Reese (OL), Luke MacLean (DL), Terrish Webb (DB), Tyrique Jarrett (DL)
OUT FOR SEASON – Artie Rowell (OL), Ejuan Price (DL), Zach Poker (LB)

Duke and Pitt last faced each other on September 21, 2014 in a game Pitt won 58-55 at Wallace Wade Stadium. In their last game out, two weeks ago, Duke beat Virginia 20-13, while Pitt lost to Georgia Tech 56-28 last Saturday afternoon.

HOW DUKE CAN WIN

Duke must contain the Pitt running game and force the Panthers to throw the ball. Running back James Conner is the ACC’s leading rusher at 135 yards per game. Quarterback Chad Voytik has rushed for over 100 yards in a game twice this season gaining 114 in a victory over Florida International and 118 in a victory over Virginia Tech.

Pitt is a less effective football team when forced to pass. Voytik has thrown six interceptions and been sacked 15 times this season. He appears uncomfortable in the pocket. The more he has to throw, the better for Duke; however, Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd is an All ACC quality talent so the defense must know where Boyd is at all times.

When Pitt’s offense is in passing situations, look for Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles to dial up the heat by bringing a linebacker or safety on a blitz. The key to the game will be Duke’s ability to contain the Panther rushing game to force those obvious passing situations. It is imperative Duke’s defensive line hold their own along the line of scrimmage.
Establishing a lead is another path to forcing Pitt to throw the ball more than they desire.

Establishing better field position than your opponent is often a game within the game with Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe leaning hard on Punter Will Monday and Kick-off specialist Jack Willoughby to pin the opponent deep in their own territory. Forcing Pitt to play on a longer field than Duke plays on will be another factor in a Blue Devil victory.

Finally, on offense, Duke will need to establish the running game to open up the play action pass. Maintaining balance has served Duke well so far in 2014 and it will be important again this Saturday in Pittsburgh. In two conference victories, Duke ran an average of 39 running plays and 32 pass plays. In the Miami loss, Duke threw the ball 51 times, while rushing 25 times.

This is definitely a new era in Duke football. In a game preview, offense was discussed last after both defense and special teams. The days of having to outscore the opponent in order to have a chance to win are in the rear view mirror.

HOW DUKE CAN LOSE

Turnovers and penalties are events all football teams must avoid each and every week. Everyone saw turnovers destroy Pittsburgh last week against Georgia Tech. Duke leads the ACC with a +8 Turnover Margin and is also ranked number one in Opponent Penalties at 66 yards per game. Facing a tough Pitt team on the road, this is not the week to regress toward the mean. If Duke does not perform strongly in these two areas on Saturday, the Blue Devils will lose.

Failure to get off the field on 3rd down is another concern. Pitt is fifth in the ACC in 3rd Down Conversions being successful 44.4 percent of the time. When the Panthers go for it on 4th down, their success rate increases to 62.5 percent. The ability to hand the ball to a talented, 250 pound running back propels Pitt to success in these situations. If Duke’s defense fails to consistently stop Pitt on 3rd and 4th down, the Blue Devils will lose.

With weather conditions predicted to be cold with a 70 percent chance of rain, valuing the football will be paramount to victory.

WHY DUKE WILL WIN

Duke will win by because they are a more consistent team and a more explosive team. Consistency will come via ball security and discipline; explosiveness via playmakers such as Jamison Crowder and Jeremy Cash. This will be a hard fought football game, but in the end Duke will prove to be more than Pitt can handle.

BOTTOM LINE

This game will be won by the team which plays better on the defensive side of the ball. Duke’s defense will stop Pitt’s offense more times than Pitt’s defense will stop Duke’s offense.

Duke 34, Pitt 20

Friday Night Lights: 2014 Edition No. Seven

The regular season is starting to wrap up for many high school football teams across the nation, which means play-off action will be starting soon. This week’s edition includes updates on both 2015 and 2016 verbal commits and prospects. Blue Devil Nation encourages readers to click on the links provided to read full articles on the game action.

Friday Night Lights: 2014 Edition No. Seven starts off by taking a look at the Class of 2015 running back prospects:

Nyheim Hines rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns as Garner defeated Knightdale 28-7. Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe was in attendance at the game watching the four star running back prospect. Running back remains the top position of need for the Blue Devils 2015 recruiting class.

Albert Funderburke did not have an enjoyable Friday night as his Sun Valley team was shutout by Weddington 34-0.

Ruben Garnett rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the 1st half as Aquinas routed Warren County 43-14. Garnett ran 34 yards for a touchdown in the 1st quarter and added a one yard touchdown in the 2nd quarter.

The following updates are on Class of 2015 commits:

Aaron Young had 86 yards receiving and two touchdowns as Murietta Valley defeated Chaparral 21-14 in double overtime. Young’s four yard touchdown reception was the game winner.

Keyston Fuller caught three touchdown passes as Griffin dominated Pike 57-7. Fuller’s three touchdown receptions covered three, 13 and 21 yards. Fuller has caught eight touchdown passes this season.

Quentin Harris racked up the statistics on Saturday afternoon completing 27 passess for 332 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 62 rushing yards, on 13 carries, but Taft School lost to Salisbury 63-28. Taft’s record falls to 1-5 on the season.

DePriest Turner threw a 64 yard touchdown pass and ran for a second score in a losing effort as Fairhope downed Murphy 54-30. Turner finished the game with 154 yards passing and 117 yards rushing. Turner is committed to Duke as a wide receiver.

This edition of Friday Night Lights closes out with a look at a couple of 2016 players:

Class of 2016 running back commit Elijah Deveaux scored two touchdowns on runs of 25 and 10 yards as Charlotte Christian defeated Ravenscroft 44-0.

Brandon McIlwain, a 2016 quarterback prospect, rushed for 125 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to passing for 381 yards, but his Council Rock North team fell to Quakertown 48-32.

Duke RB Shaun Wilson set the school record with 245 rushing yards Saturday.

Time To Give These Devils Their Due

DSC_0002-001It’s time to start giving the Devils their due.  Duke had to tough out a win over division rival Virginia today by a 20-13 score in Wallace Wade Stadium.  In doing so they pushed their ACC record to 2-1 and their overall tally to 6-1.

In case you haven’t noticed, Duke has now become bowl eligible for the third consecutive October under Coach David Cutcliffe.  Duke is still trying to get better and will continue to recruit better athletes due to on the field success.  But this is now a true football program and no longer one building towards that goal.

Today’s win wasn’t always pretty but it was effective on many levels.  Duke did not commit a turnover against a team that had 19 take away plays coming into the game which ranked them 2nd in the nation in that category.  The Blue Devils also had ten pass deflections by their defensive unit and as Coach Cutcliffe said post game, that is not the norm.

There is more.  The offensive front didn’t allow a single sack.  And Anthony Boone?  He admitted to struggling throwing the ball at times today and his coach did as well.  But Boone is a remarkable 16-1 as a starting quarterback in regular season games.

No matter where you look these days, be it the home side crowd which stayed into the game to the last second or the results, Duke Football is getting it done.  And there is upside which includes stadium facilities improvements to come and recruiting success will continue.

Make no mistake, going into an off week with consecutive ACC wins is huge for this team.  The 6-1 start represents the best beginning since the 1994 season.  It’s been since the long ago year of 1944 since Duke Football has had three consecutive 5-2 records or better and Cutcliffe has achieved that.

In fact, it is clear now that Duke has one of the best coaches in America in David Cutcliffe and a team poised to possibly enter the Top 25 this week.  It’s amazing what a win will do and Cutcliffe continues to deliver them to fans in droves.

It’s an exciting time for the Duke fan base these days.  And for those who have long suffered through lean years, the resurgence is starting to sink in.  Some actually seem a bit taken aback by the success and those fans are getting used to dare I say it?  Winning.

There’s plenty of work yet to be done this season for the Blue Devils.  But make no mistake about it, they control their own destiny just as much as they did a year ago when they won the Coastal Division Championship.

Duke rode the back of Shaquille Powell today in the second half.  That coupled with a great passing play where Thomas Sirk hit David Reeves with a jump pass helped Duke escape with a needed win.

Moving forward, the Blue Devils will have to play on the road against Pittsburgh and Syracuse.  They then finish the year with three home games against Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest.  All of the games are winnable and how many times could Duke fans even dream of that in the past few decades?

Coming into the season, many felt Duke would fall back a bit, but going into the bye week all looks rosy.  The Blue Devils still have to take care of business but how fun will it  be for a fan base to watch their team try to achieve goals?  And those same fans are sure relish these precious moments as their team continues to build on success.

It’s time to give these Cutcliffe led Devils their due, for they’re pretty darn resilient if not flat-out good.

Coach Cutcliffe 11-16-13

Coach Cutcliffe Post-Game: Duke 20, Virginia 13

DURHAM – Duke Head Coach Cutcliffe was clearly pleased with his team’s effort in a 20-13 Homecoming win on over Virginia on Saturday. He pointed out his defense’s 10 pass break-ups, the play of the offensive line, and an emotional boost from Shaquille Powell as keys to the victory. Duke is now 6-1, tied for 1st place in the ACC Coastal Division, and bowl-eligible for the 3rd straight year as they head into a second bye week.