Category Archives: Duke Football

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Coach Cutcliffe talks Sun Bowl loss

EL PASO - Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe addressed the media after his team's heartbreaking 36-31 loss to Arizona State in the 2014 Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Blue Devils battled back from an early 20-3 deficit only to watch another 4th quarter bowl game lead slip away. Despite the loss, Cutcliffe was particularly upbeat about the direction of the Duke program, thanks to an outstanding class of seniors who have led the Blue Devils to 3 straight postseason bowl games, and the most successful 2-year stretch in Duke Football history.

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Duke falls to Arizona State in Sun Bowl thriller

EL PASO - For the third straight season, the Blue Devils played a thrilling bowl game. For the third straight season, they came up short. On Saturday afternoon, Arizona State emerged with the 2014 Sun Bowl victory, 36-31.

After falling in an early 20-3 deficit, Duke battled all the way back to take a 31-30 4th quarter lead on a half-back pass from senior Jamison Crowder to Issac Blakeney with 5:03 left to play. But it was not to be, as the ensuing kickoff was returned 96 yards by Kalen Ballage to the Duke 4-yard line. The Sun Devils' Taylor Kelly then quickly found Demario Richard for the 4-yard touchdown to put ASU on top for good. Anthony Boone led the Blue Devils back down the field on a 9-play, 57 yard drive, but the decisive play landed in the arms of ASU DB Kweishi Brown instead of Duke's Crowder in the back of the end zone.

The heartbreaking loss overshadowed a number of outstanding individual plays by the Blue Devils. Crowder finished the day with 7 catches and 102 yards, tying fellow Blue Devil Conner Vernon for the all-time ACC receptions record.  With Duke trailing 20-10 late in the first half, the senior All-American also returned a punt for a 68-yard touchdown.  The Duke ground game was paced all day by another inspired performance from Shaquille Powell, who finished with 29 carries and 118 yards, while adding 3 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown.  DeVon Edwards led the Duke defense with 14 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Seniors Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo and Jamal Bruce each added a sack of ASU's Taylor Kelly in their final games as Blue Devils. AJ Wolf may have had the defensive play of the day for Duke, as he blew up a 4th and inches try with 9:22 left and the Blue Devils down a touchdown.  A fake punt by Will Monday found Johnell Barnes for a 30-yard gain, keeping the Duke drive alive as they trailed by a touchdown mid-way through the 4th quarter.

The Duke offense outgained the Sun Devils, 400 to 392, on the day, but lost the turnover margin 2-0; that proved to be the difference in an otherwise well-played game by both teams. A costly fumble by senior WR Issac Blakeney and Boone's late interception both came in the red zone, with the Blue Devils threatening to score. Jim Knowles' defense managed to hold Kelly and his offense to just 4 of 14 on 3rd down, and though they gave up over 100 yards to star WR Jaelen Strong, they kept him out of the end zone.

The loss drops Duke to 9-4 on the 2014 season, and still in search of their first bowl victory since 1961. The Sun Bowl marks the end of an era of sorts for the Blue Devils, as an incredible group of seniors moves on from Durham. Led by the likes of Boone, Crowder, Blakeney, and All-American OL Laken Tomlinson, this group accomplished the most successful 2-year campaign in Duke Football history. Their accomplishments should and will be celebrated at the annual football banquet on January 23, 2015.

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Sun Bowl Preview: Arizona State vs Duke

DSC_0164Sun Bowl Preview: Arizona State vs Duke
2:00 PM ET
Saturday, December 27
El Paso, TX
TV: CBS

Duke in 2014: 9-3
Arizona State in 2014: 9-3

This will be the first ever meeting between Duke and Arizona State. In their last game out, on November 29, Duke defeated Wake Forest 41-21, while Arizona State lost to Arizona 42-35 on November 28. Arizona State compiled a 4-2 record against teams ranked in the Top 25 compared to a 1-0 record by Duke.

ARIZONA STATE SCOUTING REPORT

The Sun Devils are a powerful offensive team, which averages 37 points per game and features a 1,000 yard receiver and a 1,000 yard rusher. Their defensive strategy is to blitz, blitz and blitz some more while utilizing man-to-man pass coverage in the secondary. This aggressive approach has resulted in Arizona State being tied for seventh in the nation in Sacks with 39 and fifth in the nation in Tackles for Loss with 97. However, the Sun Devils are 84th in Pass Defense Efficiency.

All American wide receiver Jaelen Strong (#21) is projected to be a 1st or 2nd Round selectee in the 2015 NFL Draft. At 6'3 215 pounds, he is a big, physical receiver who uses his height to go up and get the ball. Strong, who has 75 receptions for 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns, is going to be a big test for Duke's secondary.

Running back D.J. Foster (#8) has rushed for 1,002 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014 and is already receiving hype as a potential 2015 Heisman Trophy candidate. Foster is also a dangerous receiver out of the backfield having recorded 59 receptions for 646 yards and three touchdowns. He is the Sun Devils second leading receiver.

There is a some uncertainty at quarterback for Arizona State. Senior Taylor Kelly (#10) will start but back up Mike Bercovici (#2) could see playing time. Kelly threw 20 touchdown passes against five interceptions in nine games this season, but he was pulled in the season finale against Arizona in favor of Bercovici.

Bercovici started three games in the middle of the season when Kelly was sidelined with a foot injury leading the Sun Devils to a 2-1 record including wins over Top 25 Stanford and USC. He threw 12 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season.

Defensive lineman Marcus Hardison (#1) has 10 quarterback sacks, 14 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Hardison is dynamic playmaker and his match up against Duke left tackle Takoby Cofield will be key to the game outcome.

Safety Damarious Randall (#3) is the team's leading tackler with 101 and also leads the team with three interceptions.

Other players to keep an eye on include: wide receiver Cameron Smith (#6) recorded 41 receptions for 546 yards and six touchdowns; linebacker Laiu Moeakiola (#28) recorded five quarterback sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss; linebacker Salamo Fiso (#58) recorded 3.5 quarterback sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

HOW DUKE CAN WIN

Strong quarterback play will be the number one factor for Duke to secure a victory. Anthony Boone must manage the game plan by throwing accurate passes and executing solid reads to keep the Blue Devils offense clicking. His running skills will be important to counter Arizona State's blitz package as the QB draw play and read option keeper could exploit the Sun Devils aggressiveness. However, the main thing Duke needs Anthony Boone to do is accurately pass the ball to Duke receivers who will be facing lots of man-on-man coverage.

The second most important factor for Duke will be achieving balance on offense. Duke is at their best when successfully running and passing the ball. Teams that have shut down Duke's running game and forced the Blue Devils offense to be one dimensional have had success against the Blue Devils in 2014.

On defense, Duke must prevent explosive plays. Arizona State has tremendous team speed so it will be important for the Blue Devils to keep the Sun Devils in front of them. To counter Arizona State's potent rushing attack, Duke must protect the edges with lateral quickness followed by solid open field tackling. Missed tackles will be costly against D.J. Foster and Demario Richard (#4).

Special teams play is key to winning the very important field position battle. Duke must excel in the kick and kick return game to ensure they play on a short field, while forcing Arizona State to play on a long field. The Sun Devils did not return a kick-off nor a punt for a touchdown in 2014.

HOW DUKE CAN LOSE

Ball security is paramount for the Devils...make that the Blue Devils. Duke cannot turn the ball over to Arizona State's high octane offense and be successful. If Duke has trouble hanging on to the football, they will lose.

Anthony Boone must have time to execute the offense, make his reads and throw the ball. If he spends the afternoon being hurried, harassed and sacked, he will make costly mistakes and Duke will lose. The offensive line must protect Boone against the blitzing Sun Devils defense. Achieving success running the ball would go a long way toward slowing down the blitz.

KEYS TO THE GAME FOR DUKE

1. Strong quarterback play.
2. Achieving offensive balance.
3. Preventing explosive plays.
4. Winning the kicking game.

BOTTOM LINE

This game will be a strength against strength match up with Arizona's blitzing defense against Duke's offensive line, which is ranked number one in the nation in Tackles for Loss Allowed and eleventh in the nation in Sacks Allowed. The battle along the line of scrimmage will be critical.

There is an expectation the Sun Bowl will be a shootout as both the Blue Devils and the Sun Devils possess high octane offenses, but I am predicting both defenses will prove to be stouter than expected. With the over/under set at 66.5 points, the under will prevail as Duke wins their first bowl game in almost 54 years.

Duke 30, Arizona State 27

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Duke LB David Helton Honored

SONY DSCNEW YORK – Duke University senior David Helton was named the 2014 William V. Campbell Trophy recipient on Tuesday
evening as part of the 57th annual National Football Foundation (NFF) Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The award recognizes an individual who is deemed the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.

Helton becomes the first Duke student-athlete to receive the Campbell Trophy and is awarded a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship. He was the third straight Blue Devil to be named an NFF Scholar-Athlete, joining Sean Renfree (2012) and Perry Simmons (2013).

“First and foremost, congratulations to David and his family for this incredible honor,” said head coach David Cutcliffe, who also mentored 1997 Campbell Trophy recipient Peyton Manning at the University of Tennessee. “David’s personality, work ethic and drive to be successful combine for achievements like this one, and it all starts with his parents. I couldn’t be happier for Keith and Mary to watch their son experience this great journey.”

Helton is just the second ACC student-athlete to be honored, joining Virginia’s Thomas D. Burns (1993).

Last week, Helton was named to the Atlantic Sports Media Association All-ACC first team and a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. The Chattanooga, Tenn., product owns a 3.63 grade point average as a psychology major and was a Capital One/CoSIDA First Team Academic All-America selection and is a three-time Academic All-ACC Football Team honoree.

Helton is the eighth Duke player to earn first team Academic All-America honors and the fourth to receive Academic All-America and All-ACC honors in the same season, joining Simmons (2012-13), Shawn Johnson (2002) and Bill Jones (1965).

On the field, Helton leads the ACC and ranks 15th nationally in tackles per game (10.42). In total tackles, he tops the league (125) and stands 11th nationally. He owns six games with double figure tackles in 2014 and is now tied for 10th in Duke history with 338 career tackles.

William V. Campbell Trophy Winners
2014 David Helton Duke University
2013 John Urschel Penn State University
2012 Barrett Jones University of Alabama
2011 Andrew Rodriguez United States Military Academy
2010 Sam Acho University of Texas
2009 Tim Tebow University of Florida
2008 Alex Mack University of California-Berkeley
2007 Dallas Griffin University of Texas
2006 Brian Leonard Rutgers University
2005 Rudy Niswanger Louisiana State University
2004 Michael Munoz University of Tennessee
2003 Craig Krenzel Ohio State University
2002 Brandon Roberts Washington University in St. Louis
2001 Joaquin Gonzalez University of Miami
2000 Kyle Vanden Bosch University of Nebraska
1999 Chad Pennington Marshall University
1998 Matt Stinchcomb University of Georgia
1997 Peyton Manning University of Tennessee
1996 Danny Wuerffel University of Florida
1995 Bobby Hoying Ohio State University
1994 Robert B. Zatechka University of Nebraska
1993 Thomas D. Burns University of Virginia
1992 Jim Hansen University of Colorado
1991 Brad Culpepper University of Florida
1990 Chris Howard United States Air Force Academy

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Duke to face Arizona State in Sun Bowl

The Blue Devils are headed to a postseason bowl game for the third straight year under Head Coach David Cutcliffe. This year, Duke has accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. The game will kickoff at 2:00PM ET on Saturday, December 27. The Blue Devils will face off against the Arizona State Sun Devils out of the PAC-12 conference.

Duke finished the regular season 9-3 and in 2nd place in the ACC Coastal Division. The Blue Devils have won 19 games over the past two seasons, but are still in search of the program's first bowl victory since the 1960 Cotton Bowl. This year's team is led by three senior first team All-ACC players in WR Jamison Crowder, OG Laken Tomlinson, and LB David Helton. The Blue Devils have averaged 32 points per game on the 2014 season, while allowing just 20 points per game to their opponents.

Arizona State finished 9-3 in the regular season under Head Coach Todd Graham. The Sun Devils feature one of the top offenses in the country, putting up 37 points per game. ASU is also led by 3 first team all-conference performers in redshirt senior OT Jamil Douglas, redshirt senior S Damarious Randall, and redshirt junior WR Jaelen Strong.

Tickets for the game are available through GoDuke.com.

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Blue Devils Place Nine on All ACC Teams

DSC_0303DURHAM, N.C. – Led by first team selections Jamison Crowder, David Helton and Laken Tomlinson, Duke placed nine players on the 2014 All-ACC football team, as announced Monday by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).

A senior, Crowder earned first team all-league honors at both wide receiver and return specialist while Helton, a senior linebacker, and Tomlinson, a redshirt senior offensive guard, both received the second-most votes at their respective positions. Redshirt sophomore DeVon Edwards joined Crowder with two citations, garnering third team honors as a return specialist and honorable mention accolades as a safety. Other Blue Devils earning recognition included redshirt junior safety Jeremy Cash (2nd team), redshirt senior offensive tackle Takoby Cofield (3rd team), junior kicker Ross Martin (3rd team), redshirt junior center Matt Skura (3rd team) and redshirt junior punter Will Monday (honorable mention).

Cash, a 6-2, 205-pound native of Miami, Fla., is the only defensive back in the nation to have amassed at least 100 tackles, 10-plus hits for lost yardage and five-plus sacks this season. He paces the Blue Devils with 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks while his 103 stops are good for the third most on the squad. In addition, his four forced fumbles are tied for the fifth-highest single-season total in program history. Cash has tallied seven or more tackles in 10 of 12 regular season games and ranks 13th among all active FBS players with 8.62 stops per game. He was one of 15 Thorpe Award semifinalists and was twice honored as the ACC Defensive Back of the Week this season (Oct. 13 and Sept. 29).

Cofield, a 6-4, 310-pound native of Tarboro, N.C., has helped Duke’s offensive line rank 11th nationally with 1.08 sacks allowed per game and third with just 3.33 tackles for loss allowed a contest. The strong line play has opened holes for the Blue Devils’ 390 points this year, the third most in a year in program history. The squad owns 24 rushing touchdowns and has surpassed 20 ground scores in consecutive years for the first time since 1994-95. Cofield was named the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week on Sept. 22.

Crowder, a 5-9, 175-pound native of Monroe, N.C., ranks second in the ACC in receptions per game (6.5), third in receiving yards per game (78.5) and seventh in all-purpose yards per game (98.8) this season. In ACC history, he stands second in career receptions (268), tied for second in 100-yard games (15), third in receiving yards (3,539) and sixth in all-purpose yards (5,372). He paces Duke this year with 78 receptions for 942 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 12.08 yards per catch.

As a returner, Crowder ranks third in the ACC in punt return average (10.1). He ran back a punt 52 yards in the fourth quarter for the game-deciding touchdown at Syracuse. Crowder owns three punt returns of at least 20 yards this season, including two in the last four weeks. He was selected to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and was named the ACC Specialist of the Week following the win over Syracuse on Nov. 10. Crowder has now earned All-ACC honors in each of the past three seasons.

Edwards, a 5-9, 175-pound native of Covington, Ga., earns All-ACC honors for the second straight year after being a third team return specialist pick a year ago. Edwards ranks second on the squad with 119 tackles and leads the way with 71 solo stops, nine pass breakups and four forced fumbles. He is tied for second among the Blue Devils with 6.5 tackles for lost yardage and 3.5 sacks. Edwards ranks third in the ACC and 15th nationally with 9.92 tackles per game and has tallied seven or more in every game this season. Edwards’ four forced fumbles this season are tied for the fifth most in a year in program history as he matched the Duke single-game record with two forced fumbles at Troy on Sept. 6. He is one of only two players, joining teammate Jeremy Cash, to rank in the ACC’s top 13 in fumbles forced per game (2nd), tackles per game (3rd) and passes defended per game (10th).

On kickoff returns, Edwards ranks second in the ACC and 23rd nationally with 25.42 yards per kickoff return. He was named the ACC Specialist of the Week after his 99-yard touchdown at Pittsburgh. He has returned two kickoffs 60 or more yards, tied for the third most among FBS players this season. Edwards owns three kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career, tied with Randy Jones (1990-93) for the most in Duke history.

Helton, a 6-4, 240-pound native of Chattanooga, Tenn., leads the ACC and ranks 15th nationally in tackles per game (10.42). In total tackles, he tops the league (125) and stands 11th nationally. He owns six games with double figure tackles in 2014 and is a semifinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. In Duke history, Helton ranks tied for 10th with 338 career tackles. He is a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete selection, making him a finalist for the Campbell Trophy, and earned first team CoSIDA Academic All-District honors.

Martin, a 5-9, 185-pound native of Solon, Ohio, is Duke’s career record holder in points (303), points after touchdowns (150) and consecutive PATs made (106). In ACC history, he ranks ninth in career extra points. This year, Martin leads Duke with 100 points and has converted all 46 PAT attempts. Martin is 18-for-20 in field goals and was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist. It is the third consecutive All-ACC selection for Martin as he was an honorable mention selection in 2012 and 2013.

Monday, a 6-4, 210-pound native of Flowery Branch, Ga., has averaged 43.4 yards per punt with 17 of his 56 punts downed inside the opponent 20-yard line and 12 traveling 50 yards or more. He ranks ninth in ACC history in punting average at 43.56 yards per boot. Monday was a Ray Guy Award candidate and the Ray Guy Award Player of the Week (Nov. 12). It is Monday’s third consecutive All-ACC honor as he was a first team choice in 2012 and a third team selection in 2013.

Skura, a 6-4, 305-pound native of Columbus, Ohio, has been the anchor of Duke’s offensive line for the last two years. This season, the offensive line ranks 11th among FBS programs with 1.08 sacks allowed per game and stands third with just 3.33 tackles for loss allowed a contest. Skura earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors following Duke’s win over Virginia.

Tomlinson, a 6-3, 330-pound native of Chicago, Ill., has started 51 consecutive games for the Blue Devils, matching the longest active streak in the country. Also a first team All-ACC pick in 2013, Tomlinson was selected to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and was a CBSSports.com and Phil Steele Midseason All-American second team selection. He was also an Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award nominee and one of 11 student-athletes named to the FBS Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.