Category Archives: Duke Football

Duke  vs Army preview

Previewing Army at Duke

Duke vs Army preview
Duke vs Army preview

The Duke Blue Devils hope to even out their record for the season against a much improved Army team on Saturday.  To do so, there is one major aspect of the game they must improve upon

The Blue Devils protected the football in their win over Notre Dame, but is all three of their losses, that was not the case.  In fact, Duke was a turnover waiting to happen in those games.  Any coach will tell you that turnovers are one of the most critical aspects of the game and Duke has to protect the ball better moving forward.

A year ago, the Blue Devils played perhaps their best game against Army in West Point.  This season the Cadets have a 3-1 record with pretty much all of their key personnel back.  The Army offense is rolling up 450.5 yards per game.

The Duke offense is right there with the Cadets at 445 yards per contest, but the Cadets are averaging ten more points per contest. That points not only to the aforementioned turnovers, but the Blue Devils struggle to find the end zone.

Army has had two weeks to prepare for Duke in that they had an off week.  It is not hard to figure out that a victory over the Blue Devils which have had their number of late would vault them into almost sure bowl contention.  In short, they'll be motivated as a team.

It wasn't that long ago when Army came into Wallace Wade Stadium and shocked the Blue Devils.  Fair or not, the Cadets are more often than nor viewed as a winnable game on the schedule.  That's no knock on their improved program, but a fact of how solid and competitive the ACC schedule is today.

In the game where Duke never was really in it, former quarterback Sean Renfree threw and early interception near his on goal line. Army scored and never looked back.

The reason I mention that contest is that momentum will play a key role in this game.  Duke has squandered several fist half opportunities in similar fashion in losses.  In this game, Duke needs to capitalize on opportunities.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned one current Duke players name in this preview. That's because this team needs to come together as a group.  The talent is there for this team to show a turnaround as the season progresses.  And at this point, the Blue Devils need to band together and simply get a victory to get back on the right track.

The future for Duke Football is on solid footing.  But this season could take a serious hit with a loss to Army, which some consider the last game Duke will be favored to win this season due to a tough schedule.

Nothing gets easier for the Blue Devils who take on Louisville on the road next Friday.  Even they have an extra week to prepare which seems unfair.  There is no time like the present to garner the forces and gain a much-needed win for the program.

It's really simple, Duke needs to start winning the games they are favored in again.  And that won't be easy against an Army team that is hungry and riding momentum.  That leaves us with the question being how hungry is this Duke team.

Duke 27 Army 21

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Virginia Punts Duke

16-672x372 (1)Duke stumbled out of the gate flat as a pancake and returned to their turnover plagued ways in a 34-20 loss to Virginia.  It's as if Duke returned to the way they played before the Notre Dame win.

It was a forgettable day for freshman quarterback Daniel Jones whose  interceptions killed drives.  He ended the game with five passes picked and fumbld in the end zone where the Cavaliers recovered the ball for their final score.

Duke rolled up 25 first downs to the Cavaliers 16, but they just could not find the end zone often enough.  It was simply that kind of day for Duke which falls to 0-2 in the ACC 2-3 overall.  The loss all but assures the Blue Devils of having to turn things around quickly or finish in the divisions cellar.

Much like the earlier game against Wake Forest, Duke had their chances to take a solid lead but failed to do so early on.  The score was 20-10 at the half, but Duke should have been in the game or no less than tied.

It didn't help that the Duke secondary was scorched for 336 yards and three touchdowns by Kurt Benkert.  The Cavaliers also were successful all too often on third down where they went 11 of 21.

After gaining momentum and confidence back against Notre Dame a week ago, Duke finds itself back in the doldrums.  The team should be in desperation mode for a win next weekend against Army.  But to win, some how, some way, they have to protect the football and find the end zone.

Lastly, the MVP of this game was a punter.  Virginia kicker Nicholas Conte kept the Blue Devils pinned back all day long.  That just goes to show you how important special teams can be.

The only bright spots for Duke were A.J. Reed going 2 for 2 in the field goal department as he continues to come around.  It is also worth noting, that Duke was in the game until the end despite seven turnovers.  I suppose the game was closer than the final score, but that is nothing to hang your hat on.

The Duke vs Army game kicks off at 3;30 next Saturday.

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Injury Plagued Duke Faces UVA

images-1The Blue Devils are coming off a season saving win over Notre Dame as they seek to ride that momentum to a win over Virginia.  Duke will be facing a team that has improved as the season has progressed and one that can put points on the board.  In fact, a season ago, the Cavaliers blistered the Duke defense for 42 points.

In last seasons loss, Duke came out flat as a pancake.  They simply cannot afford to do so tomorrow.  There are challenges as well in that the injury bug as been brutal of late.  Already, two team captains in Thomas Sirk and DeVon Edwards are out for the year  Then came the news this week that Tinashe Bere would join them and starting running back Jela Duncan would sit as well.

The aforementioned losses limit Duke more in what they can do. That  means pressure on the Blue Devils freshman quarterback Daniel Jones and the defense on the whole.  What Duke showed in the win over the Irish, was that this is a more talented team, albeit young at many positions.

To lead Duke to a Homecoming Day win, the Blue Devils will need Jones to be his best.  They will also need to continue to have success running the ball which opens their offense up.  Defensively, Duke needs to remain aggressive and watch out for big play threats on the corners.  This is a game where a veteran secondary needs to show up early and often.

It would seem that the signs point to this being a high scoring and competitive game.  Virginia had won 17 of 19 games between 1989-2007.  Once Cutcliffe arrived, Duke has gone 6-2.  It is worth noting that Virginia is coached by a personal friend of Cutcliffe in first year coach Bronco Mendenhall.

I feel Duke knows it has to be aggressive in this game on offense.  I think the defense will bend but not break,  Look for Duke to keep their momentum and win their first ACC game 35-24.

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Duke Gang Gets it’s Mojo Back

images-1There were very few people who gave the Duke Blue Devils a shot versus Notre Dame in South Bend.  In fact, Duke was a 20 point underdog and coming off two lack luster losses.

But on Saturday, Duke Gang as they are call themselves regrouped to stun Notre Dame 38-35 and even their season record at 2-2.  It was a day when pretty much everything went right and that in itself was a far cry from the two losses on the season.

Duke won the battle of turnovers 3-1 and they had 3 sacks to the 1 for the Irish.  When they needed a stop on defense there was an interception, quarterback rush or deflected pass.  And it was a field goal which actually won the game.

But there was more, including big plays and playmakers both which have been missing.  A just tuned 19-year-old quarterback in Daniel Jones tossing the ball for a big Touchdown pass to senior Anthony Nash was like a bolt of lightning.  After falling behind 35-28, Duke used three plays and a 64 yard scamper down the sidelines electrified the Blue Devils sideline to tie the game.

This was a day when Duke fell behind 14-0, lost their kickoff specialist DeVon Edwards, possibly for the season.  Yet Duke showed off depth as Shaun Wilson set the day in motion for Duke with his 96 yard touchdown return.

Duke would later add a solid drive where Jela Duncan ran for 18 yards and a score.  Duncan led all rushers on the day 121 yards and Duke out gained the Irish 208 to 153 yards on the day which reflects on the offensive line.

While we are on the offensive front, they allowed just one sack and protected Daniel Jones.  That allowed the first year quarterback to throw for 24 of 42 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns.  He did have an interception which was one of the few mistakes the Blue Devils committed on the day.  In fact, the team has one single penalty.

And then there was the game winning field goal from AJ Reed who had missed three field goal attempts and an extra point coming into the game.  On this day, he was on the mark and can now build on the fact he hit a game winner on the road against Notre Dame.

In fact, the Duke staff can build on this game after a great effort and the team can as well.  The seniors will have some bounce in their step, while a lot of young players grew up and more confident.

Just when everybody had written Duke off, they played their way back into the season.  In the process, they gave their fans hope and will now come home looking to get on the winning side of things.

You cannot count the ways in which this win helped Duke Football. The team knew they were better than their showing to date and the staff stepped it up too,

Now that they know what they are capable of there is a need for consistency.  Today, Duke showed resiliency and won a big road game against a storied opponent.  The got better.  They played with heart.  They played with focus.  And the program which has gone to four consecutive bowl games. got their mojo back.

It was a big win for the program.

Duke lands 2 ACC Players of the Week.

Jones, Wilson Claim ACC Players of the Week

Duke lands 2 ACC Players of the Week.
Duke lands 2 ACC Players of the Week.

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones and junior return specialist Shaun Wilson claimed ACC Player of the Week honors following the Blue Devils’ 38-35 win at Notre Dame this past Saturday.

Jones, a 6-5, 210-pound native of Charlotte, N.C., earned ACC Rookie of the Week accolades after completing 24-of-32 (.750) passes for 290 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while rushing for an additional 19 yards on five attempts against the Fighting Irish.  He engineered Duke’s game-winning 10-play, 44-yard drive, which culminated in AJ Reed’s 19-yard field goal with 1:24 remaining in the game.  Earlier in the fourth quarter, Jones threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Nash to tie the game, 35-35, with 6:47 left.

Wilson, a 5-9, 180-pound native of Charlotte, N.C., returned four kickoffs for 163 yards including a 96-yard return for a touchdown to garner ACC Specialist of the Week honors.   In place of injured three-time All-America kick returner DeVon Edwards and with Duke trailing, 14-0, in the opening quarter, Wilson returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to jumpstart a 28-7 spurt as the Blue Devils claimed a 28-21 advantage at halftime.  In addition, he added 66 rushing yards on 13 attempts.

Duke will host Virginia on Saturday at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. and tickets may be purchased online at www.GoDuke.com/FootballTix or by calling the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at919-681-2583.

Duke set to visit Notre Dame

Duke Seeks Momentum vs Notre Dame

Duke set to visit Notre Dame
Duke set to visit Notre Dame

Flash back to the preseason and most felt Duke and Note Dame would come into the game with no less than 2-1 records.  In the case for the Irish, some felt they would likely be 3-0 as they were ranked in every top ten prognostication that could be found.  What we will have in reality in South Bend this Saturday where the game kicks off at 3;30 on NBC are two 1-2 teams reeling from rocky starts.

The Irish have lost to two good teams while Duke has lost to two average teams at best.  A critical conference loss at home to Wake Forest signaled that Duke would experience some serious growing pains for the first time in years.  Last weeks loss to Northwestern was another error plagued effort leaving the Blue Devils in desperate need of something positive.

The one thing Duke can do to better it's chances of getting back in the win column is to cut down on turnovers.  Most of those have come from freshman playing key roles.  That means, it may be hard to expect different results with ''Touchdown Jesus,'' staring over young men not even twenty years of age,

What Duke can hope for is to find some positives and somehow play loose.  Duke is in no way considered a good bet to win in this game as they were in previous outings.  Perhaps that will allow them to play with less pressure on their backs.

Duke can compete if their defense can force turnovers and the offense has to find the end zone.  The Irish has been vulnerable against the pass early on but against solid competition,   The real key though, will simply be not to beat yourself.  Duke has done that early on as one of the nation's leaders in turnovers.

With a shaky kicking game and a young man barely 19 years old in Daniel Jones at quarterback, asking for a win is a tall order.  What Duke can hope for is to iron out some of the kinks to develop much needed momentum.

The prediction here is Notre Dame 41 Duke 17