Category Archives: Duke Football

Duke Will Survive Road Challenge With Focus

The Duke Blue Devils travel to Middle Tennessee State this weekend where both teams hope to end the contest with a winning record.  The game will kick off around 7:00 and will be carried by Facebook Live.

About Middle Tennessee State

Firstly, the Blue Raiders have a potent offensive attack.  They scored 21 points in a loss at Michigan to open the season before bouncing back with a 45-26 win over Tennessee State.

Rick Stockstill has built a solid program in Murfreesboro and his teams have scored 30 or more points 74 times under his watch.  This years team is led by quarterback Asher O'Hara (runs and throws effectively) and wideout Ty Lee.  Both are talented players who are but a small part of the offense which also poses a strong ground attack.

Middle Tennessee ran the ball effectively a week ago after a slow start in Michigan.  They went undefeated at home a season ago and the last time they faced an ACC foe, they upset Syracuse on the road two years ago.

On defense, the Blue Raiders start six seniors and three juniors which provide experience.

Intangibles

This weekends contest will be their annual blackout game where fans are asked to wear black.  The Blue Raiders are 8-3 in these contests reserved for their better opponents.

The weather will be hot.  It is plenty humid in the Triangle this time of year, but also very much so in the middle of the state of Tennessee.

Duke must stay aggressive throughout the whole game for looking at the Middle Tennessee schedule the past few years, shows they are capable of putting up big points in the late quarters.  In other words, they adjust well after the half.

About Duke

The Blue Devils will try to be more consistent on both sides of the ball this week.  On offense, they need to start faster than in their first two games.  On defense, they need to limit big plays and third-down opportunities.

Last week, Quentin Harris was fabulous against the Aggies.  This week he faces an opponent in between the talent of Alabama and N.C. A&T, so all eyes will be on how he performs.

Duke has multiple injuries and some key players or starters will be out for this game.  While the Alabama game was technically played on a neutral field, this will be the Blue Devils first road contest.

Our thoughts on the outcome

This is more or less a must-win game for Duke if they want to keep bowl hopes alive.  On the other side, Middle Tennessee State is looking at this as one of their biggest opportunities to knock off a power five school at home.  Both teams face a difficult schedule in the future after this game.  Middle Tennessee will travel to Iowa a week later and Duke preps for the ACC opener at Virginia Tech after an off week.

Look for Duke to get the Blue Raiders best shot and they are not a team that will wilt as mentioned earlier.  That said, Duke needs a good start and to play resilient and match their opponent's emotion.

I feel there will be an emphasis on getting the running game going for Duke this week, but it the game will come down to playing opportunistic defense and the passing game.

Middle Tennessee will give Duke some trouble with their offensive schemes, but the Blue Devils defense should stiffen up enough to allow the offense a chance to win the game.

The pick here is Duke 35 Middle Tennessee State 21

My season prediction record to date is 2-0 overall and 2-0 vs the spread.  Last week I had the exact point differential of 32 in the win over NC A&T.  

Duke Football Notebook 9-10

The Duke Blue Devils evened up their season record to 1-1 with a lopsided win over North Carolina A & T and they hope to build on their momentum this week versus Middle Tennessee State.

Bobo practicing

Jake Bobo has returned to the practice field per Duke Coach David Cutcliffe.  While he will not play this weekend, Bobo has seemingly made Duke look into adjustments that would allow him to be on the field at the same time as freshmen breakout talent Jalon Calhoun.  Cutcliffe has high praise for Calhoun who had a stellar game against the Aggies.

Injuries Piling Up

A season ago Duke was plagued by injuries and that trend is continuing this year.  Cutcliffe said that his team had 13 scholarship players out after the win over the Aggies.  He ruled Gunnar Holmberg out for the year today, giving the team two scholarship quarterbacks to work with.  DL Ben Frye has returned to practice and is rounding back into playing shape.

Penalties, film and discipline

Cutcliffe said some of the penalties called against his team may not have been as obvious on film review.  On the other hand, he said there are discipline penalties that they will try to correct.

Duke will stay in Nashville

The Blue Devils will stay in Nashville for their game with Middle Tennessee State.  That makes the trip all the more attractive to the fan base who will be traveling with the team.  Cutcliffe said he had some good relationships with Middle Tennessee coaches and that his wife would entertain the family during the visit.

Cut warns fan base that Middle Tennessee is a Solid Program

The Blue Raiders can play and they have an established football program.  Cutcliffe spoke of his opponent with high praise.  They lost to Michigan by 19 on the road in their opener and bounced by with a 45-26 win over Tennessee State this past week.  The program is known for their offense, but more on that in our preview out this Thursday.

Duke has a bye week coming

The Blue Devils have a bye week after this weekends contest and before they travel to Virginia Tech for their ACC opener.

Facebook Live

The game will be telecast on Facebook Live, but we have yet to see if there is an application to stream this to TV or if any station will carry the game.  The rights are owned by Stadium but the game will not be on their streaming service.  I hoe to have more information when I release the game preview.  Speaking of previews, we are 2-0 vs the spread on the season and 2-0 overall and had the exact point spread at 32 this past week.

The game is huge for the Blue Raiders

The Red Raiders will have a "blackout," for the game where fans are asked to wear black.  The current line is Duke by 6 in the contest.

Quentin Harris Leads Duke Past NC A&T 45-13

The Duke Blue Devils moved to 1-1 on the season with a 45-13 win over North Carolina A&T in Wallace Wade Stadium.

After a sluggish penalty plagued start to the game which saw the North Carolina A&T Aggies take a 10-7 lead, Duke exploded for 21 unanswered points to close the half.

Quentin Harris connected on 38-yard pass to true freshmen Jalon Calhoun to open the scoring for Duke.  Harris then threw a 22-yard touchdown to Manteo Durant and capped off an explosive 2nd quarter with a 39-yard score to freshman Eli Pancol.

All three of the aforementioned scoring receptions were the first career touchdowns for Calhoun Durant, and Pancol.  Harris also had a career-high in passing yards at the end of the first half.

A.J. Reed connected on a career-long 50 yard field goal to make it a 31-10 score on the Blue Devils second drive of the 3rd quarter.  North Carolina A&T would answer with a field goal of their own to make it 31-13.

Quentin Harris would connect on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jalon Calhoun for their second hook up of the game to make it 38-13.

Duke would tack on another score on a Manteo Durant one-yard run to make it 45-13.

Quentin Harris finished the game with a career-high 83 rushing yards which tied his record against Baylor a season ago.  Harris went 30-42 for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns, all career-high marks. Harris also had a rushing touchdown.

The game was not always pretty for Duke.  They were plagued with penalties having nine flags for 97 yards.  Duke also lost one fumble and back up quarterback Chris Katrenick threw an interception in the red zone.

Duke racked up 545 yards of offense to 249 yards for the visiting Aggies.

Duke travels to Middle Tennessee State next week.

 

Duke Set To Right The Ship vs N.C. A&T

The Duke Blue Devils take on North Carolina A&T at 6:00 tomorrow in Wallace Wade Stadium.  The weather will be sunny and warm as Hurricane Dorian has veered away. Duke is a labeled a 26 point favorite.

Last Week

It was no surprise that the Blue Devils struggled against an immensely talented Alabama squad which seems destined to play for another national title.  While Duke showed glimpses of good things to come, the offense struggled to find its identity.  The best news is that there were no major injuries and that the Blue Devils.

This Week

North Carolina A&T is relishing the opportunity to knock off an ACC foe.  They took out East Carolina a season ago and defeated a ranked Elon team on a 52-yard field goal last week.  The Aggies are currently ranked 14th in the country in the FBS national rankings.

More on the Aggies

First of all, they can play.  They have a stingy defensive scheme designed to hold teams down in scoring.  The Aggies are a step up from NCCU, a team they demolished last season on their way to winning their conference.  Duke Coach David Cutcliffe said they are balanced in all aspects of the game and he is right.  Duke will face a very pesky team seeking to pull off one of their biggest upsets in school history.

Duke seeks offensive continuity

We saw Duke tease some new offensive formations and schemes last week.  The Blue Devils will show more of what we can expect to see as the season progresses this week  It will be important for Duke to establish the ground game in order to get the passing game going.

The defense hopes to stiffen up

Even though it was juggernaut Alabama scoring 42 points a week ago, the defense looks to show some pride this week with a bounce-back performance.  This side of the ball was considered a strength going into the season, so expect the unit to play with a reckless abandon this week trying to shut down the Aggies attack.

Duke will play more players

The Blue Devils are playing some young players this season and those guys will get more snaps this week if all goes as planned.  Expect to see more skilled players break out this week, especially in the young wideout group.

What we expect

Duke is anxious to even their record up at 1-1 and they are also intent on showing more of the style we will see this season.  The Blue Devils will likely still have some growing or timing pains, but they should be able to show off their talent as this game progresses.  There is a feeling of immense hunger this week and they want to show last weeks lopsided loss was an anomaly.

On the other hand, the Aggies are capable of taking advantage of mistakes and they are a legitimate football program capable of putting a scare in Duke if the Blue Devils get off to a slow start.

It is crucial for Quentin Harris and the offense to get rolling sooner rather than later.  The Aggies know how to play a frustrating style of football if they get the lead, so a fast start is a must for Duke.

Duke should win this game and they need to win this game.  The Blue Devils David Cutcliffe will be 10-3 in home openers with a win.

The pick here is Duke 42  North Carolina A&T 10

(Season prediction record 1-0 overall, 1-0 vs the spread)

 

A Loaded Alabama Team is Too Much For Duke

The Duke Blue Devils have the unenviable task of opening their college football season against #2 Alabama in the Chic-Fil-A kickoff game.

While the game is technically played on a neutral field, Crimson Tide fans will be  in 99% of the seats in Atlanta, Ga.  Duke Coach David Cutcliffe said during his press conference, that he turned up the crowd noise as loud as it would go trying to prepare for the noise factor expected in Atlanta.

Adding to the difficulty in this matchup is the fact that Alabama has incredible depth and talent.  The Tide simply reloads from season to season with future NFL players and they have multiple All Americans on their roster.

Alabama is coming off an unusual lopsided loss to Clemson in the national championship game a season ago.  So, yeah, they will be more than a little focussed and they have already tabbed as a 35 point favorite over Duke.

If you need more hype for the Blue Devils opponent, Alabama has won 44 consecutive non-conference games.  The Tide has also won 17 straight season-opening games.

Alabama has it all.  Check the boxes off on household names like quarterback Tua Tagovalga who leads a bevy of NFL talent at every position on offense.

Another box to be checked is overall talent where this teams roster has the nation's top recruits for several years running.  In short, they have playmakers galore on offense with too many names to mention.

If that is not enough bad news, Alabama has what is projected to be the best defense in the country.   The Tide backups would start at most of the schools in the country.

The Tide will actually start four freshmen, two of them being interior linemen.  But these are diaper dandies or young men who will be gone after their sophomore season to the NFL draft.

You may have heard Duke coach David Cutcliffe say his program has earned this opportunity and they have.   Duke has been to 6 bowl games in the past 7 seasons.  Duke is also 9-2 in openers since Cutcliffe took over at Duke.

The last time Duke faced Alabama, they added extra bleachers in Wallace Wade Stadium.   That game took place nine years ago and Alabama embarrassed Duke 62-13 and this was when Alabama was just returning to the dominance they display today,

The talent gap has closed since that time, but Duke is rebuilding on offense with the loss of Daniel Jones to the NFL.  Duke will have three true freshmen on their two-deep at wideout and not necessarily because they are ready for this kind of playing time.

While Duke has recruited better, especially up front since the last meeting, Alabama has pretty much gotten every other player they wanted since that time under Nick Saban.

I suppose cutting to the chase is in order here before going any further.  Duke is not going to win this game.

Duke will compete as best they can and Cutcliffe will use film from this game to learn a lot about his team moving forward. The Blue Devils can ill afford injuries at certain positions, so they will look to come out of this one as healthy as possible.

If this game gets out of hand, look for Quentin Harris to be pulled for Chris Katrenick.  The good news is that Duke needs quarterback reps.  The bad news is Duke drops off a lot without Harris due to their backups inexperience.

The bottom line is that Duke has to survive this game.  And this is the best team they will face all year.  Heck, Alabama is the best team every team in the nation would face.

While Duke has some good talent at several positions, Alabama is the kind of juggernaut that just wears you down and then runs roughshod in the second half.

Duke will struggle to find the end zone against Alabama.  The Blue Devils need to control the clock but you have to move the ball in order to do that.  This is quite simply a nightmare of a match up if not the worst possible scenario on paper.

While the Duke defense is a strength, Alabama has a boatload of skilled players want to wipe the loss to Clemson from their memory.

So what I see happening is the defense letting up some points, not so much from not playing well but just getting worn down.  I do not think Duke has the horses to gain a lot of yardage against a stellar Alabama defense.

If Duke turns the ball over, the game can get ugly which is what the majority of people in America expect.  Duke just needs some positives in this game and to come out of the contest relatively healthy. while learning about themselves as a team.

There are just too many negative intangibles in this one.  It is not a good match up for a Duke team breaking in new wideouts and with the kicking game still in question.

The pick here is Alabama 45 Duke 10

Our brass tacks season projecion can be seen by site members on the Blue Devil Nation forum.

Duke Loses Jake Bobo to Injury

One of the positions Duke football is especially thin at is the wide receiver spot.  The Blue Devils lost one of their top returning threats in Jake Bobo in today's practice -

Duke sophomore wide receiver Jake Bobo underwent surgery on Friday to address a fractured right clavicle suffered during Thursday’s practice.  He will be out of action indefinitely. The surgical procedure was performed by Dr. Jonathan Riboh. A native of Belmont, Mass., Bobo had 10 receptions for 167 yards and one touchdown while playing in all 13 games a season ago.