Category Archives: Duke Football

An early look at next season

The Duke Blue Devils football team head into the off season a winner thanks to their 27-17 victory over Miami. After running into various troubling games which led to a five-game losing streak the Blue Devils reached deep to defeat the Hurricanes for the second season in a row.

A closer look shows Duke was close to going to another bowl game. Close losses to Pitt and rival North Carolina will be seen as games that slipped away. But the truth of the matter is that very few people projected this team to go bowling in the pre season.

Many knew this would be a rebuilding year due to having to almost start from scratch with the wideouts. But one of the main things which hinted at a longer year was an injury to quarterback Gunnar Holmgren.

Holmberg, a redshirt freshman, was slated to see a lot of snaps this season and we likely would have seen a two-quarterback system. His injury means Duke will have a green quarterback to start 2020. Look for Holmberg to compete with true freshman Luka Diamont and returnee Chris Katrenick for the Duke starting job.

While there is a lot to unpack before we get a clear picture of 2020 projections, it is worth noting that on paper, Duke returns several key starters and contributors.

The schedule will be plenty challenging next year but there is no Alabama to open the season. The Blue Devils will travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame on Halloween. The opener is on September 5th when Middle Tennessee State visits Wallace Wade Stadium. Duke will also host in-state foes Elon and UNCC. In fact, the first three games of the season will all be played on Brooks Field.

Duke will travel to Georgia Tech, Miami and Pitt while taking on N.C. State for the first time in years in Raleigh. The Blue Devils will face ACC foes, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest at home.

In the next several months we will see how Duke closes on recruiting and there is always the transfer portal to keep an eye on. We may see some staff or philosophy changes or things could remain familiar.

I will chime in at a later time on what to expect as changes take place and we get a clearer picture of the depth chart and more.

2020 Schedule

Non Conference

Sept. 5 -- Middle Tennessee

Sept. 12 -Elon

Sept. 19 -Charlotte

Oct. 31 - Notre Dame

ACC Home -

North Carolina

Virginia

Virginia Tech

Wake Forest

ACC Road Games

Georgia Tech

Miami

N.C. State

Pitt

(Complete dates will be announced at a later date)

Don’t Expect Duke to Whip Miami

Duke Football plays its last regular-season game against Miami in Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday. The Blue Devils can potentially make it to a bowl game with a win due to their APR ranking.

But let's be realistic here. Duke probably doesn't have enough offense to make that happen. It doesn't help that Miami is coming off their most embarrassing loss in a decade but it is hard to ignore that the Hurricanes beat Pitt, Florida State and Louisville all in a row before the upset happened. When you add in the fact that Duke defeated the Hurricanes a year ago, you can see why I think Miami will be looking to finish their season 7-5.

On the other side of the ball, Duke has been reeling. Duke lost the Victory Bell to UNC, was crushed by Virginia, Syracuse and Notre Dame and thumped by Wake Forest last week. The truth some may want to avoid or ignore is that Duke has steadily played worse as the season wears on.

Few remanents of confidence remain after the Blue Devils win over Virginia Tech. In fact, the team seems to be broken in that they cannot seem to create any lasting momentum.

Duke is a 9 point underdog in this game which seems low. There will be few people in the stands due to the Thanksgiving Day weekend and the fact the Hurricanes fans do not travel well.

I have done pretty well in the prediction department this season going 9-2 on game-winner predictions and 9-1-1 against the spread. I expect this will be the last game of the season and the pick is Miami 34 Duke 14 and time for Duke to regroup in the off season.

Duke Seeks Redemption

Before I get into this week's Duke at Wake Forest preview, let me address my last article. Anyone who thought I was hinting at a change at the top of Duke football was sorely mistaken. While Duke has been disappointing on the field of late there are multiple reasons beyond coaching for those ills.

Duke football under David Cutcliffe has earned a pass on having what some see as a down year to date. The man has taken over a program that was at the bottom of the ACC and given Duke fans bowl games.

What Cutcliffe has also done is raise expectations, so when his team stumbles to an embarrassing loss there is some disappointment. And there are questions.

It is fair to question how Duke is doing some things on the field when it begs for reevaluation. And truthfully, nobody expected a lot from this season's team which is young and suffered unexpected personnel losses. In fact, Duke has 16 or so starters back, so there is room for improvement moving forward.

The season is not over for Duke and the seniors which have given effort are leaving the team as winners in their overall career. But what the team and fans would like to see is some program pride after two crushing losses.

In comes Wake Forest. The Deacons have been on an upward swing for a few seasons now and Duke would like a little payback from a devastating loss a year ago.

It will not be easy despite the Deacons losing their top two wideouts. Wake Forest seems to be a hungrier team and they stand 7-3 on the season. If Duke can slow their run game they can compete, but the Blue Devils are a touchdown underdog for a reason.

Some are still talking about bowl contention and Duke is technically still an option. Many have spoken of Duke going to a bowl with just five wins due to their lofty APR which rewards their acumen. But a single win seems a daunting task at this time so maybe it is time to temper expectations.

What I will look for is can Duke make its own breaks. Can a playmaker step up on offense? Can the team generate enough points and yards to give the defense a chance?

I stand 8-2 on straight up game predictions this season and 8-1-1 against the spread. The pick this week is Wake Forest 24 Duke 14

Duke Hits A Low in Blowout Loss

You did not have to worry about getting into a traffic jam when leaving Wallace Wade Stadium this past Saturday. The few people who were actually in the stands in cold and windy weather were gone well before the fourth quarter began and who could blame them?

Duke was a 10 point favorite over a Syracuse team seeking their first win but lost the contest, falling to 4-6 on the season with two games remaining on the schedule. But they lost by a score of 49-6 and my guess is that no team which has been favored by double-digits has been defeated so soundly anywhere in the nation all season long.

What we saw was an epic collapse and the team went off the rails in ways that has everyone asking questions. Now, those questions are nothing new. I do not have to mention what they are, for everyone who follows the team knows and has heard them for a while now.

Those questions came rushing back on social media and from anyone who saw the game yesterday. And if you were able to sit through the entire affair, you have hereby been dubbed the fan of the year.

The Duke offense was a punchless mess. There was a timeout on third and long earlier in the game with the score at 0-0 when Duke elected to run the ball, which led to a missed field goal and that set the tone.

In hindsight, it is easy to say Duke maybe should have thrown the ball, for they would not get many more chances in scoring position. But many did not need hindsight to see this was a drive wasted going for the safe points as the team is suddenly allergic to the endzone.

Maybe, the decision-makers did not realize that Duke was about to be rolled over and abused until games end by a Syracuse team that seemed hungry, better prepared and that wanted to be on the field. The Orange beat Duke more soundly than did Alabama in the opener or Notre Dame a week ago.

The problem here is nobody will mistake Syracuse football with the two aforementioned blue-blood programs. They were winless and let up 70 plus points to Maryland and, after that, every ACC team had their way with one obvious exception.

Yes, Duke has had some injuries, but that is a part of the game. There are just no viable excuses as to why the offense has become predictable to the point where every team prepares well for them as the season wanes on.

There are many more issues. Duke has not been coming out of the locker room adjusted and prepared. Their confidence is so thin, that an untimely bounce of the ball on an interception looks like it takes the wind out of their sails, creating the impression of a very fragile mental state.

It is hard to keep throwing dinks and dunks passes when the other team stacks the front. With so much traffic there, turnovers will happen. Just ask anyone who watched the Blue Devils commit three consecutive turnovers to start the second half, which all led to Syracuse touchdowns.

I personally picked Duke 5-7 at the start of the season. In some ways, I saw struggles coming. There were plenty of question marks and a brutal schedule and a quarterback going down they wanted to develop. But the team played well enough to create hope and expectations early in the season.

It is hard to fathom what has happened since Duke soundly defeated Virginia Tech on the road. The two teams went in different directions and that is what makes the latest result dumbfounding in nature.

Virginia Tech can win the Coastal by winning out. Duke has found itself looking like a team wanting to throw in the towel on the season of late.

The loss made several people bring up the collapse against Wake Forest a season ago. Duke was a mild favorite at home in that game only to lose in epic fashion on their own turf.

But Wake Forest was a bowl-bound team and that is not the case with the Orange, who were reeling most of their season before finding optimal success in Durham.

The reality is that the loss to Syracuse this season is more disturbing than the one to Wake a year ago.

One thing is certain, though. Between now and before next season the staff needs to take a good look at how they are doing things on the offensive side of the ball.

It would seem that a lot of problems start there. If you cannot control the clock a bit and put your defense in a good position then this backward spiral will continue.

Perhaps if there is an effort to fix one of the glaring weaknesses in the team of late, solutions to some of the other problems will start to fall into place.

Will Duke Get Back to Winning Ways vs Syracuse?

The Duke Blue Devils take on the Syracuse Orange in Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday afternoon where they seek to end a three-game losing streak.

After starting the season 3-1, Duke has stumbled against ACC competition where they currently own a 2-3 mark which is good for sixth place in the topsy-turvey Coastal Division.

In their last three league losses, the Blue Devils have been within a play of winning two of the games. Now the team is coming off a lopsided loss to Notre Dame and they're facing the injury bug which most recently sidelined one of its offensive line leaders in the center, Jack Willoughby.

On the other side of the ball, the Syracuse Orange has struggled even more. So far this season, the team is winless in the league while owning a 3-6 mark in all games.

You can make a case that Syracuse is the most disappointing team in the league. They were considered a lock for a bowl game by many in the preseason, but they have had trouble stopping opposing teams offenses.

One has to think the Orange sees the Blue Devils as a chance to get their first ACC victory. A closer look at the teams on paper shows some pretty even stats and quarterback Tommy DeVito and their offense can put up some points.

Duke needs to get back to the basics in many ways. The team needs to come out on fire and not allow their opponent early game success in order to halt the losing streak.

The Blue Devils have struggled at times with their run game and to beat Syracuse they will need some success on the ground to keep the defense off the field. It is worth noting that Syracuse is also coming off a bye week where they have had extra time to prepare.

My gut tells me that this game could be closer than some people think. Duke has been labeled a 10 point favorite by the oddsmakers. The feeling here is that Duke will need a solid defensive effort to win this game.

As for predictions, I stand at 8-1 straight up for the season and 6-1-1 against the spread. The pick here is Duke 28 Syracuse 20.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Duke

It has been a long while since the Notre Dame Fighting Irish visited Duke's, Wallace Wade Stadium. The year was 1966 and the result was a 64-0 loss which lives n less infamy only because of the passing of time. The Duke Administration had deemphasized the football program once Bill Murry retired and it took just a couple of years for it to show on the football field after a string of ACC titles earlier that decade.

A lot has changed since then. After years of losing with the exception of blips on the radar from a couple of years from Steve Spurrier and one good year under Fred Goldsmith, Duke managed to hire David Cutcliffe. That hire has led to Duke going bowling on a regular basis, something many thought impossible.

In fact, Cutcliffe is currently 1-0 against the Fighting Irish, thanks to a 38-35 2016 victory in South Bend. That was Daniel Jones coming out party, or, at least when NFL scouts started to take notice.

Duke is a couple of plays from being 6-2 this season. The Blue Devils have had a week off since losing the Victory Bell in an emotional loss to their rival. The question is whether the off week was enough time to refocus their efforts on getting to a bowl game.

The Blue Devils currently stand 4-4 and the upcoming slate starts with the Irish, followed by Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Miami. Finding two more wins will not be an easy task.

Notre Dame is a very talented football team. The Irish stumbled against their rival Michigan and currently stand ranked 15th nationally with a 6-2 record. Make no mistake, the goal of their program is to win out, starting with Duke.

The Irish showed early game hangover symptoms a week ago where they edged Virginia Tech, Duke, of course, throttled the Hokies but were blown out by Virginia, a team the Irish handled easily.

What may work in Notre Dames favor is a sudden drop in temperature for the 7:30 kickoff time on the ACC Network. Duke is expecting a large crowd to see the Irish-Blue Devils clash on Brooks Field. Fans are encouraged to get to the stadium earlier than normal for this game.

The key in this game for Duke is to be in the contest going into the second half. More importantly, half time adjustments need to be positive for the Blue Devils have allowed 90 opposing team points in the 3rd quarter.

A win for Duke would work wonders in rekindling program interest. A victory on a big stage is always healing, but the Irish want nothing to do with said scenario.

Notre Dame has been tabbed an 8 point favorite this Saturday. I am picking the Irish this week in that they have a balanced offensive attack. That and the fact they escaped last week's trap game with the Hokies leads me to believe the Irish exorcised the demons of losing to a rival.

On the other side of the ball, it is less clear to know how Duke will respond where they lost to rival North Carolina last time out. Duke is capable of winning this game with a stalwart effort, but expecting them to be free of emotional debris while facing a nationally ranked team which was in everyone's top ten to start the season is a tall order.

As for my prediction, I stand 7-1 straight up on the season. I fell to 6-1-1 versus the spread where last week's game with UNC was a push at 3 points. I see Duke playing hard in this one, but the Irish will stand victorious in the end. Notre Dame 31 Duke 21