Category Archives: Duke Football

Pitt at Duke Preview

Duke hopes to halt a three game losing streak when Pitt visits Brooks Field in Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday.  The Blue Devils should have every reason in the world to want a little revenge.  The reason being Pitt hung 56 points on Duke a season ago in what some viewed as running up the score.

What we always know is that Pitt will play a physical game of football in that is their modus operand.  They will be playing two quarterbacks in the game as their starter went down earlier in the season.  But make no mistake, there is little drop off there and plenty of good wideouts that can make big plays in the cupboard.

But this game will have more to do with Duke and how they respond.  After a solid 4-0 start, Duke finds itself seeking wins for bowl eligibility.  Duke is favored to win in this game but there is possibly one more game when that will be the case in the final five contests.

The Blue Devils have been a mess at times on offense of late.  They are struggling with the passing game, so maybe they will start to lean more on a team strength which is the running game.  Look for more two tight end sets as well with Duke looking to get their best pass catchers on the field.

The danger for Duke is that if their passing game does not start to click, teams will stack the box.  A week ago, only one receiver caught multiple passes.  The second man up had two catches for 8 yards.

One of the bright spots this season has been the defense.  The front quite young, but better and the secondary has made big plays.  One of the weaknesses has been simply field punts.  Duke has had horrible starting field position aided by solid kicks and unfortunate bounces.

The bottom line is that this game is a must win for the team and the program.  It is important to win against division foes and after last seasons lop sided loss at Pitt, Duke will be measured by how they perform on Saturday.

Duke should win this game.  They have the talent to do so but they must put together a consistent effort.

The pick here is Duke 31 Pitt 17

Steve Spurrier To Be Honored During Pitt Game

DURHAM, N.C. – Prior to his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, former Duke head coach Steve Spurrier will be honored with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments, during the Blue Devils’ game against Pittsburgh on Saturday. Spurrier is one of 13 individuals in the Class of 2017, announced in January by The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.

 Spurrier served as the head coach of the Blue Devils from 1987-89 and compiled an overall ledger of 20-13-1.  The ACC Coach of the Year selection in both 1988 and 1989, he guided Duke to the ACC Championship and All American Bowl appearance in 1989.

The NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute program, which began with the inaugural class in 1951, has become a hallowed tradition, and to this day the singular events remain the first of numerous activities in each inductee’s Hall of Fame experience. During the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, each inductee returns to his alma mater to accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will remain on permanent display at the institution. The events take place on the field during a home game, and many inductees cite the experience as the ultimate capstone to their careers, providing them one more chance to take the field and hear the crowd roar their name.

The Heisman Trophy recipient in 1966 as a quarterback at Florida, Spurrier went on to serve as the head coach at his alma mater (1990-01) and South Carolina (2005-15) and finished with an overall collegiate coaching ledger of 228-89-2 with seven conference championships, 21 bowl game berths and the 1996 national crown.  Spurrier is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame as a player.

“Steve Spurrier truly left his mark as one of the most storied coaches in college football history,” said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. “His legacy began at Duke, where he led the Blue Devils to success it hadn’t seen in a quarter-century. We are thrilled to honor him at Wallace Wade Stadium.”

Spurrier becomes the fourth Duke head coach to be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining Howard Jones (inducted in 1951), Wallace Wade (1955) and Bill Murray (1974).  In addition, former Duke head coach Mike McGeewas inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1990 and is joined by eight other Blue Devils including Fred Crawford(1973), Al DeRogatis (1986), Dan Hill (1962), Clarkston Hines (2010), Steve Lach (1980), George McAfee (1961), Ace Parker(1955) and Eric Tipton (1965).

The 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be officially inducted at the 60th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown on Tuesday, December 5. This year’s College Football Hall of Fame Class includes: Bob Crable (Notre Dame), Marshall Faulk (San Diego State), Kirk Gibson (Michigan State), Matt Leinart (Southern California), Peyton Manning (Tennessee), Bob McKay (Texas), Dat Nguyen (Texas A&M), Adrian Peterson (Georgia Southern), Mike Ruth(Boston College), Brian Urlacher (New Mexico) and coaches Danny Ford (Clemson, Arkansas), Larry Kehres (Mount Union [Ohio]) and Steve Spurrier (Duke, Florida, South Carolina). For more information on the Dinner, please contact Will Rudd.

The inductees will also be honored at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on January 1, 2018, and they will take part in a series of events at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta where their accomplishments will be forever immortalized.

The 2017 season marks the eighth season that Fidelity Investments, a leading provider of not-for-profit workplace retirement savings plans to higher education employees, is serving as the national presenting sponsor of the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes. The salutes are one component of a multi-year initiative between the two organizations to celebrate the scholar-athlete ideal and a joint commitment to higher education. At the start of the 2014 season, Fidelity became the presenting sponsor of The William V. Campbell Trophy, college football’s premier scholar-athlete award, which will be presented for the 28th time in 2017.

Other highlights of the sponsorship include Fidelity becoming the first presenting sponsor of the organization’s prestigious NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards and helping launch the NFF Faculty Salutes, which recognizes the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives around the country.



FSU 17 Duke 10 – What We Learned

The Duke Blue Devils lost their third consecutive game 17-10  to Florida State on Saturday.  Duke is now 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the ACC with Pitt visiting Wallace Wade Stadium this coming Saturday.

Duke can play with the likes of FSU

The Blue Devils have continued to recruit well of late, but the Seminoles are on another level.  Duke proved it can hang with teams that at chock full of four and five-star players.  They had a good defensive game plan going in, but Florida State ended up going with a power running game and ten yard passes to win the game.

Not quite ready for prime time

Had Duke not turned the ball over on a half back pass from Shaun Wilson to close the first half and taken better advantage of turnovers, they could have defeated he Seminoles for the first time in school history.

Duke wasted a great opportunity at the end of the first half and the Seminoles looked beatable going into the locker room.  Duke would tie the game up at 10-10, but the Seminoles produced a big run while Duke failed to have any explosive plays.

The game was much closer than most have been in the series, but it was also clear that Duke is not quite ready to get over the hump versus a superior talented team just yet.

The good, the bad and the ugly

The Duke running backs of Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown great stat lines in the game.  They averaged about what the Florida State backs did on yards per carry.

The bad is they ran the ball 14 less times than the duo of Cam Akers and Jaques Patrick and that translated to losing the time of possession battle 36:44 to 23:16.  One has to feel that a few more hand offs would have played out well for Duke which struggles finding their wideouts.

The ugly continues to be their punt reception game.  Balls are not fair caught and that means opponents lead the nation in punting net yards when playing Duke.

Players of note

Helmets off to T,J, Rahming for his 8 catches which went for 111 yards.  Past his play, the wideouts had another very sub par game.

Austin Parker had his best day of punting in my humble opinion.  He put four balls inside the opponents 20 yard line and averaged 46.2 yards per punt.  He also made a key 37 yard field goal in the game.

Jeremy McDuffie solidified himself as a future leader int he defensive backfield with his interception and being in on 9 tackles.  His teammate Mark Gilbert came up with a pick as well.

Speaking of veterans, Alonzo Saxton was in on a game high 14 tackles and still looked fresh in the post game media interviews.

Next up

Pitt will be the next opponent on Brooks Field this coming Saturday.  The Panthers mopped up the field with Duke a year ago, running up the score as best they could

If Duke cannot get up for this game and win in decent fashion, trouble is possibly looming with hopes of a six win bowl eligibility season.  The reason Duke could be underdogs the rest of the way with Army (5-2) maybe being an exception.   But even that game is on the road.

The bottom line is Duke needs to get back in the winning column and the game versus Pitt is a must win.

FSU at Duke Preview

If somebody had told me Duke would have an 88 yard kickoff return and an interception return for a touchdown before the UVA game, I would have thought they would have won,

Duke fell flat a week ago despite some key big plays by losing in a style which all want to forget.  Now, they face a 1-3 Florida State team which is wounded and apt to bite.

Had you told anyone before the season, the Seminoles would visit Wallace Wade Stadium not ranked and seeking win number two, well, you may have been committed.

Look, the Noles return nine defensive starters from a season ago and every player on their team was highly recruited by the nations best programs.  It makes little sense to think they will continue their slide for very much longer.  In short, nobody feels sorry for them and they have talent in droves.

Duke has been labeled a 7 point underdog, but that could be low.  The reason is that the offense is in a funk where they are returning to their ways of a season ago.  Last year, the Blue Devils struggled to find the end zone and everyone knew to turn things around, that had to improve.

In early wins, Duke looked as though offensive production would not be an issue, but regression is at hand.  With no passing game to speak of in the last few outings, Duke will be severely challenged to score points against the fastest defense they will have played to date.

If it seems like I am talking mainly about Duke in this preview, well, I am.  For there is no need to worry about the opponent when confidence seems to be an issue after consecutive losses.

The last time out on Brooks Field, Duke played Miami close for the longest time, but the defense would tire after multiple failed offensive possessions.  Last week, they lost to Virginia where it seemed as if they got away from the run and thus lost the time of possession battle.  In a sense, there is now a clear blueprint in how to beat Duke, that being not worrying much about the pass.

Duke flat-out needs to reignite their desire and drive heading into the second half of the season.  There were times a week ago when you could not see the fire necessary to win football games.  And times when players would make special plays only to see their teammates not rise to the occasion.

In all honesty, most would have taken a 4-2 record before the season started at the half way mark.  But with winning comes higher expectations and maybe those were too lofty after a 4-0 start.

I do not see the Blue Devils matching up well with Florida State for they struggle with big and fast teams as does everybody.  If they play as they did a week ago, they are not ready for the talent level they will face come Saturday just yet.  Duke has gone from expecting wins after their fast start to seeking wins.

Duke fans would be tickled silly to get a win over the mighty Florida State program.  Maybe they will play with fire and who knows what can happen.  But after picking Duke to win every game thus far this season which I admit was reaching when doing so against Miami, I can't go that route again this week.

The pick here is Florida State 31 Duke 14

UVA Loss Leaves Duke Seeking Answers

The Duke football team is left seeking answers after a 28-21 loss to Virginia.  It was the Cavaliers third consecutive win in the series and the second consecutive ACC loss for Duke.

The Blue Devils struggles on the offensive side of the ball continue to plague progress.  Daniel Jones had a forgettable day as did his wideouts who had numerous drops.

Jones finished the day 14 of 42 with two interceptions and just 124 yards.  Duke would gain just 255 yards on the day.

"The story is pretty simple, it's the passing game.  We've got issues and it has somewhat disappeared," said Cutcliffe.  "We've got issues.  When they are open we miss them, when we hit them, we drop it.  It is just not functioning."

Duke fell flat in the second half being outscored 14-7 despite numerous opportunities to get back in the game.

"The most disappointing thing is we got whipped so badly in the second half as a team.  There are a lot of issues we have to address."

A visibly disturbed Cutcliffe is not left seeking answers.  He continued his post game press conference making reference to the many breakdowns. Cutcliffe said he thought his team could be special in the passing game this year but that there has been a total breakdown and it effects quarterback confidence.

Duke will not take on Florida State at home, so the games continue to get tougher.




Duke at Virginia Preview

The Duke Blue Devils (4-1) head to Charlottesville to take on Virginia (3-1) this Saturday.  The Wahoo Nation is excited after a road win over traditional toughie Boise State.  The Blue Devil Nation hopes their team gets back to its winning ways after falling to Miami.

During this weeks media day, Duke players did not seem to seek revenge in this match up.  That might surprise some after a 34-20 loss a season ago.  In that game, Duke committed five turnovers and lost to a Virginia team which won a mere two games on the season.

But both teams are different from a year ago and both teams are better.  In his second season, Bronco Mendenhall has his  players playing together.  Kurt Benkert leads the Cavaliers offense with 10 touchdown passes and just a single interception.  Virginia crushed Boise State on their blue field 42-23 and they have proven they can throw the ball against anyone.

The Cavaliers have had a total of 15 days off to prepare for Duke. Meanwhile, Duke played on a short week against Miami while coming off a victory over arch rival North Carolina.  Recent history has gone the Cavaliers way, so Duke needs to reestablish itself against a division foe that has not recruited as well.

For Duke it all starts with a better defense, namely the units front.  Duke needs to pressure Benkert and shut down the Cavalier running game, while the secondary holds their own.  Winning this contest depends on the aforementioned happening.

Duke also needs to get off to a fast start, for the team is not known in recent years as one which plays well from behind.  Daniel Jones will look to get back on track after his team has struggled mightily in the red zone of late.

The Blue Devils will look to once again run the ball which has been the strength of the offense to date.  The combination of Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown is a solid one-two punch and Duke is better when they control the ball.

David Cutcliffe has been spending a lot of time working with all aspects of the special teams.  The punting game or ball placement has lacked punch of late and field goals are still a mild adventure but getting better.

Virginia comes into the game a 2.5 favorite and make no mistake this is a big time ACC match up of major importance for both sides.  This is the kind of game where neither team gives up, so playing from down to down or quarter to quarter is essential.

I think Duke does remember last years homecoming loss.  If the Blue Devils can simply not turn over the ball, they stand a great chance in winning this game.  This will be the first real road game for Duke this season and a bit test for younger players.

Duke comes out with focus and wins.  Duke 31 Virginia 22