Category Archives: Duke Football


Game Preview: Duke vs. Boston College

_DSC7376-001Duke vs. Boston College
3:30 PM ET
Saturday, October 3
Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium
Durham, NC
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Duke in 2015: 3-1
Boston College in 2015: 3-1


PROBABLE - Jake Kite (S)
OUT – Cody Robinson (OG), Dan Beilinson (TE), Quay Mann (RB)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Bryon Fields (CB), Zach Morris (DT), Taariq Shabazz (DE)

BOSTON COLLEGE INJURIES (complete list unavailable)

QUESTIONABLE - Myles Willis (RB)
OUT - Darius Wade (QB), Jon Hilliman (RB)

Duke and Boston College last faced each other on September 17, 2011 in a game Duke won 20-19 in Boston. Both teams are coming off home wins in their last game out, Duke defeating Georgia Tech 34-20 and Boston College defeating Northern Illinois 17-14.

Weather is the dominant pregame topic as a steady rain is already falling in Durham ahead of Hurricane Joaquin which is moving up from the Bahamas and threatening to dump more rain across the East Coast. Game conditions will certainly be wet, at least as wet as last week's Georgia Tech game, but forecast are calling for a slight break in the weather on Saturday so the deluge many feared might be avoided.


Take care of the football! Boston College has the number one ranked defense in the nation so Duke will need to be solid on offense all afternoon. Taking into account the wet conditions, look for Duke to utilize two running back sets more often than normal in an attempt to amp up their running attack resulting in increased opportunities for both Shaquille Powell and Shaun Wilson. Jela Duncan looked very good in limited action last week against Georgia Tech and should see increased touches in this game. Duncan is a power runner with impressive speed who could be effective against the tough Boston College defense. Duke will not abandon their passing attack; however, this is a game where pass attempts should be significantly below the season norm.

An offensive game plan which leans on the running game leans on the offensive line by default. Duke's front five will have to win their fair share of battles at the line of scrimmage and the tight ends will need to provide a lot of assistance for Duke to successfully run the ball.

Stop the run! Boston College ran the ball 63 times against Northern Illinois so Duke must be prepared to stop the run and force the Eagles in must pass 3rd down situations. Defensive line play has been a strength this season so another strong game from starting tackles Carlos Wray and A.J. Wolf will go a long way toward winning the line of scrimmage and stopping the Boston College run game. With leading rusher Jon Hilliman out with a broken foot, 5'8" 195 lb tailback Tyler Rouse will see the majority of carries for the Eagles.

With quarterback Troy Flutie making only his second start, the Blue Devils defense needs to force him to pass the ball. Flutie was 5 for 11 with an interception in his first start last week. Once Flutie is forced to pass the ball, Duke look for defensive coordinator Jim Knowles to dial up the pressure via blitz packages in an attempt to force Flutie to make mistakes.

Boston College will play two quarterbacks with Jeff Smith being the second. Smith is more a read-option runner than a passer so Duke will need to recognize any shift at the quarterback position in order to be prepared to counter Smith's ability to run the football.


Turnovers! Turnovers are a concern as the Blue Devils had three against Georgia Tech last week and three against Northwestern the previous week. If Duke continues to turnover the ball, it is going to result in the Blue Devils losing a game they should have won, before the season is over. With the wet game conditions this weekend, turnovers could heavily influence the final outcome.


Special teams! Duke will utilize Will Monday's big leg and Ryan Smith's elusive running to dominate the punt game giving Duke a decisive field position advantage.

Both teams have very strong defenses but Duke's offense is much better than Boston College's; therefore, the Blue Devils will achieve more offensive success than the Eagles. Add in the special teams advantage and Duke will improve to 4-1 (2-0 ACC) on the season.


What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? The age old question might be answered on Saturday afternoon when Duke's 447.8 yards per game offense squares off against Boston College's 118 yards per game defense. Something has to give.

I'll set the over/under on Duke's Total Offense at 283 yards and take the over.

Duke 24, Boston College 10


Coach Cutcliffe Comments 9-27-2015

DSC_0311Coach David Cutcliffe started off his weekly telephone conference with a few announcements:

- T.J. Douglas has been dismissed from the program.
- Terrance Alls remains indefinitely suspended from game competition.
- Jeremy Cash was recognized as the National Defensive Player of the Week by Walter Camp.

Moving on to his opening statements, Coach Cutcliffe stated the start of the game was as good as he has seen, now the team has to master it for four quarters. It is time to focus on Duke, focus on improving and hunting consistency.

Casey Blaser X-rays were negative. We are looking at a sprain so he will be evaluated on Tuesday.

Discussing Georgia Tech, Coach Cutcliffe stated it was a great team effort on defense. Asked about the lack of 3rd down conversions, he stated, "It was a lack of execution. A Combination of a lot of little things we have to get fixed."

Looking forward to Boston College, Coach Cutcliffe stated how impressed he is with Boston College in terms of physicality, toughness and how hard they play.

In reference to the 1st half suspension of Johnell Barnes, Coach Cutcliffe stated they are viewing it as getting a fresh player for the 2nd half. Chris Taylor and T.J. Rahming will most likely start the game.

Coach Cutcliffe Comments


Game Preview: Duke vs. Georgia Tech

DSC_0042-001Duke vs. Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET
Saturday, September 26
Brroks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium
Durham, NC
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Duke in 2015: 2-1
Georgia Tech in 2015: 2-1


PROBABLE - Jela Duncan (RB)
QUESTIONABLE - Chris Holmes (LB), Jake Kite (S)
OUT – Cody Robinson (OG), Dan Beilinson (TE)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Bryon Fields (CB), Zach Morris (DT), Taariq Shabazz (DE)

GEORGIA TECH INJURIES (complete list unavailable)

OUT - Qua Searcy (RB), Michael Summers (WR)

Duke and Georgia Tech last faced each other on October 11, 2014 in a game Duke won 31-25 in Atlanta. Both teams are coming off a loss to a ranked opponent. Duke to #23 Northwestern 19-10 at home, while Georgia Tech lost to #8 Notre Dame 30-22 in South Bend.


In order to win on Saturday the Blue Devils will have to do four things: play physical at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball; sustain offensive drives which produce points; achieve defensive stops on 3rd and 4th down; win the turnover battle.

Duke must match Georgia Tech's physicality at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Coach Cutcliffe emphasized this point when he spoke with the media on Sunday afternoon before practice. Georgia Tech is a physical team that comes at you for a full 60 minutes. Duke must respond with an equal level of physical play.

Georgia Tech has a great offense, which is why Duke absolutely must execute on offense, string successful plays together to sustain drives and produce points in order to keep the Georgia Tech offense off the field and the Duke defense fresh. Balance and versatility are the strengths of the Blue Devils offense so those strengths, which disappeared last week, must reappear this week. Duke will look to establish the running game to set-up the play action pass. It is imperative quarterback Thomas Sirk successfully throws the ball down the field to loosen up the Georgia Tech defense at the line of scrimmage. Duke's passing attack is at its best when multiple receivers are targeted throughout the game. Duke can win this game by achieving balance by successfully running and passing the ball.

Getting off the field on 3rd and 4th down is critical. First and foremost, Duke must stop the dive play. Georgia Tech will look to utilize B Back Patrick Skov to establish the inside running game in order to set-up Justin Thomas on the quarterback keeper or outside pitch to the A Back Broderick Snoddy. Stopping Skov on the inside dive will require Duke's defensive line and middle linebacker to win match-ups at the line of scrimmage, while stopping Thomas and Snoddy will require speed and solid tackling by the linebackers and safeties. The Blue Devils successfully defended Thomas and the outside running game last year in Atlanta so they must replicate that success this year.

Turnovers are almost always a killer and with the rain forecast for Saturday there could be a few so it is imperative the Blue Devils take care of the ball while capitalizing on any Yellow Jackets miscues. Winning the turnover battle will be a huge first step toward securing a win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.


Turnovers, penalties, one dimensional offensive attack and too many three and outs are all ways Duke can lose to Georgia Tech. If the Blue Devils fail to take care of the football, and allow Georgia Tech's defense to take them out of their offensive game plan, Duke will lose.

The number one concern for Duke this coming Saturday afternoon is the defense being worn down in the 4th quarter due to speeding too much time on the field. The offense must execute the game plan and keep dynamic quarterback Justin Thomas and the Yellow Jackets offense on the sideline.

On defense, Duke must utilize strength and speed to stop Georgia Tech. If the defense allows Georgia Tech to dominate the line of scrimmage, Duke will lose.


Over the past three years, Duke has shown to be a team with the resilience to bounce back after a big defeat. In 2014, a week after losing to Miami, Duke bounced back with a solid effort in a road win over Georgia Tech. In 2013, after dropping their first two ACC games, Duke reeled off eight straight victories including six conference games with four of those games being on the road. In 2012, the week after losing to Virginia Tech 41-20, on the road in Blacksburg, in a game Duke was leading 20-0; the Blue Devils bounced back to defeat North Carolina 33-30.

Duke will win this game due to their resilience!


This game sets up as a replay of last year's win in Atlanta. Duke is coming of a lackluster offensive performance where they scored only 10 points in a loss to Northwestern, the exact same number of points Duke scored in last season's loss to Miami prior to beating Georgia Tech 31-25. Once again the offense will bounce back scoring 30+ points in support of the #8 ranked defense in the nation. The combination of Duke's stingy defense and rejuvenated offense will be more than the Yellow Jackets can handle.

Duke 31, Georgia Tech 28


Coach Cutcliffe Comments

SONY DSCDuke Head Coach David Cutcliffe discussed Duke's 19-10 loss to Northwestern this afternoon. In his opening remarks, Coach Cutcliffe stated, "They won every meaningful play in the second half...they won the kicking this point we have to learn from it...we have to get on the practice field with a purpose."

Here are his additional comments

- "Northwestern's aggressiveness was better than us. We didn't play with enough of an edge."
- "The offensive line played well at times. Northwestern did a good job of keeping things in front of them. They tackled well. That's the best thing Northwestern did, they tackled us."
- "In the first half we played about the best we could play [on defense]. They had 57 yards of offense at the half."
- "No new injuries to starters. Perhaps a nick or two to some of the back ups. Nothing to be concerned about."

On playing Georgia Tech next week

- "They block well and they execute. To defend Georgia Tech you have to win physical battles for 60 minutes."
- "A key to playing Georgia Tech is keeping your offense on the field. You must convert third downs."

That is all from Coach Cutcliffe for this week. Backpedaling to last Friday night, here is a quick report on a couple of future Blue Devils who had noteworthy performances this weekend.

Friday Night Lights

Brittain Brown rushed for 266 yards and five touchdowns, on 14 carries, as Cherokee High School went on the road to Marietta and routed Pope High School 58-14. His touchdowns included runs of 67 and 30 yards. Brown is a 4-Star recruit per ESPN.

Scott Bracey rushed 73 yards for a touchdown and threw for two more as Benedictine cruised past Collegiate 41-14. Bracey's two touchdown passes covered 55 and 16 yards. The future Duke wide receiver accounted for 303 yards of offense in the game.

Coach Cutcliffe Comments


Game Preview: Duke vs. Northwestern

DSC_0387Duke vs. Northwestern
12:30 PM ET
Saturday, September 19
Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium
Durham, NC
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Duke in 2015: 2-0
Northwestern in 2015: 2-0


OUT – Jela Duncan (RB), Chris Holmes (LB), Cody Robinson (OG)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Bryon Fields (CB), Zach Morris (DT), Taariq Shabazz (DE)


OUT - Adam DePietro (OL), Cameron Dickerson (WR), Matt Frazier (OL)

Duke and Northwestern last faced each other on September 6, 2008 in a game Northwestern won 24-20 at Wallace Wade Stadium. The overall series is tied 8-8. Northwestern is currently ranked #23 in the AP Poll and #24 in the Coaches Poll, while Duke will enter the contest unranked. This is an important non-conference game between two similar teams. Both are well coached, disciplined teams who do not beat themselves with mistakes. This one will be a tough fought, close affair that will be decided in the 4th quarter.


Explosive plays! Duke has had a lot of them in their first two games so continuing the trend will result in a win for the Blue Devils. Here are some examples of explosive plays so far this season:

- DeVon Edwards 95 yards kick-off return for a touchdown.
- Shaun Wilson 89 yards reception for a touchdown.
- T.J. Rahming 59 yards reception to the one yard line.
- Max McCaffrey 43 yards reception for a touchdown.
- Johnell Barnes 29 yards reception for a touchdown.
- Ryan Smith 25 yards punt return.

Six explosive plays by six different Blue Devils. Head Coach David Cutcliff and Offensive Coordinator Scottie Montgomery will develop a game plan that utilizes multiple explosive players simultaneously in an attempt to overwhelm Northwestern's defense.

The key to achieving success via explosive plays is solid execution on all plays. The plays preceding the explosive play set the stage by applying steady pressure on the opponent's defense to create a breakdown. Duke will look to establish the running game, mix in short and medium passes, while taking the occasional shot over the top in order to keep Northwestern off balance and guessing.


Duke can lose if they allow Northwestern to dominate the line of scrimmage. The Wildcats had their way with Stanford in the impressive opening day win over the Cardinal. Pressuring talented Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson is a must for the Blue Devils so Duke's defensive line is going to have to win their fair share of battles on the line of scrimmage or Thorson will make Duke pay by throwing accurate short passes. Northwestern's short passing game is a major concern.

Thorson's ability to scramble is another concern. He ran for 68 yards and a touchdown against Stanford, and added another rushing touchdown against Eastern Illinois. Once Duke pressures Thorson it is equally important to contain him. This is where Duke's team speed should create an advantage.

Failing to stop Northwestern's running game is another way Duke can lose. Running back Justin Jackson is a talented back who will carry the ball 25 plus times in the game. Jackson has rushed 50 times for 212 yards and a touchdown in the first two games this season. Duke does not have to stop Jackson cold, but they do have to limit his success.


Balance. Balance on offense and balance on defense. Speed. Duke has more speed on both sides of the ball. Duke's balance and speed will overcome Northwestern's size advantage. Adding in Duke's superior special teams play will tip the scales of balance in the Blue Devils favor.


The outcome will come down to speed versus size. Duke is faster, Northwestern is bigger. Both teams will look to exploit their advantage. Speed will show up big during special teams play so look for the Blue Devils to create special teams magic, and use that magic to propel them to victory on Saturday afternoon.

Moreover, look for the Duke coaching staff to open up the playbook and employ a new wrinkle or two designed to exploit Duke's speed advantage. Coach Cutcliffe will utilize sets and plays the Northwestern coaching staff have not previously seen on film.

Duke 20, Northwestern 14