Category Archives: Duke Football

Duke-Virginia Tech Friday Night Lights

Duke will take on Virginia Tech tonight at 7:00 on ESPN in a rare Friday night appearance.  The stakes are more than a little high for both teams find themselves at a season crossroads.  Both teams are 2-1 and while this is the ACC opener for Duke, Virginia Tech lost to Boston College in their opening game.  Since that time, the Hokies have won two straight games as have the Blue Devils.  To say this game is huge in a quest for competing in the Coastal Division is an understatement.  What does it all mean?  It will be a tense game where both teams lay it on the line.

About the Hokies

Expectations are always high in Blacksburg and this season is an important one for their head coach, Justin Fuente.  Hokies fans are currently mildly depressed that the team struggled to defeat Furman and Old Dominion, but that is because they are spoiled by lineage and expect a lot.

In hindsight, the 14 point win over Old Dominion looks much better now after they almost took down Virginia.  What I am saying is there is some overreaction by some in Blacksburg.  It is also clear, the Hokies have plenty of size and talent where they can throw two running backs at teams and a large offensive front.

While the Hokies have moved some people around on the offensive front, they are huge.  They also are likely to try to establish their running game more and like Duke, have had an off week to adjust their system.

Virginia Tech also hired respected former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill to their staff.  This means, they have had a lot of people studying Duke on film.  The Hokies main strength is the their quarterback, Ryan Willis.  He chewed up the Duke defense a season ago in a 31-14 win over a then-ranked and undefeated Duke team.  That loss sent Duke reeling for a bit before they found their way to a sixth win.

The bottom line is the Hokies in Blacksburg will lay it all on the line.  They have tall wideouts, a defense coached by a legendary Bud Foster.

About the Blue Devils

Duke coach David Cutcliffe has a solid relationship with Fuente and Foster.  But he and his staff must put that aside and have an almost perfect effort to win their ACC opener.  Duke has looked good since their season-opening loss to #2 Alabama.

A big reason for Duke winning their last two games has been the play of senior quarterback Quentin Harris.  The dual-threat Harris has been able to blend in well with pretty much an all new and very young group of receivers.

Last year, one of the more disappointing losses came at home to the Hokies.  In that game, Duke was undefeated and ranked but fell behind quickly and let down a capacity crowd in Wallace Wade Stadium.

The measuring stick for this season comes against the Hokies.  This is a huge game for the Blue Devils, who own one of the nations most difficult schedules.  In short, they need this win for bowl aspirations.

Duke is more than capable of coming out with a win.  But an untimely turnover or lack of early aggression could derail their hopes.  But it will also take four quarters of football and the thought here is Duke wants to be in the game in the fourth quarter.

What needs to happen for a win

Duke did not get pressure on Ryan Willis a season ago and if they allow him time he will pick them apart.  It has been a very long time since the Duke secondary has come away with an interception, so one of those to break the ice would surely help.  Duke will need to be resilient for they can expect some haymakers thrown their way.

What will happen

Firstly, I see a close game.  Virginia Tech opened as a 7 point favorite and that has dropped to 3.  I have seen that kind of movement go both ways, so while I am 3-0 straight up and 3-0 against the spread with predictions, I am swaying back and forth on what will happen tonight.

Conventional wisdom says pick the Hokies for the win.  It has been a few years since Duke won this game in overtime when Thomas Sirk showed the blueprint on how to win.  That blueprint was to play hard and when punched, punch harder.

I think Duke held Quentin Harris back a little when they went to an option a week ago.  But can Duke show enough new wrinkles to overcome the like of Jerry Kill helping the Hokies out or Bud Foster adjusting his defense after a bye week?

When teams get a week off, some improve greatly.  I think this will happen with the Hokies who feel they have to play better football.  On the other hand, Cutcliffe teams play well with time to prepare,

To date, the Hokies have turned the ball over a lot this season.  But a week off may cure that.  On the other side of the ball, the Duke defense has forced just 3 turnovers and had to steal a possession against Middle Tennessee State with an onside kick.

My common gut says to pick the Hokies 34-28.  My heart says it is time for Duke to win 31-28.

In short, this one can go either way.  For more on the intangibles and things I will not mention here, join Blue Devil Nation during our yearly special.

The pick is Duke 28-27

 

 

Watch Every Daniel Jones Pass & Run

Do you think people will be talking about Daniel Jones this week?  The former Duke quarterback had a story-book debut where he led the New York Giants to an 18 point comeback win.

Jones scored on a seven-yard scamper up the middle with 1:16 remaining in the game as the Giants then held on for a 32-31 win,

The rookie quarterbacks stellar debut makes him the toast of New York.  Jones hit on 23-36 pass attempts for 336 yards with two scores.

His first career NFL touchdown came on an 11 yard rushing play.  The Giants would go into the half trailing 28-10 before Jones ignited a second-half rally.

Jones heorics also came at a time when the Giants lost their star tailback, Sequan Barkley to injury.  This was the first career win for Jones which also provided the first victory of the season for the Giants who now stand 1-2.

Check out every pass and run from Jones -

 

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.