Category Archives: Duke Football


Hokies Face Duke on Saturday

helmetThe injury plagued Duke football team takes on the nationally ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday. No less than six or seven starters will be out for the Blue Devils who seek their first ACC win.

After going to four consecutive bowl games, that streak will soon end if the losses continue.  Duke is the underdog in all their remaining games but there will be no quit with this team.  They most recently played Louisville to the wire on the road and a comeback at Georgia Tech fell just short.

Despite losing key players at every position imaginable, the Blue Devils have played competitive football.  In most of their ACC losses this season, they were one less mistake away from a win.

Meanwhile, the Hokies are fighting for the Coastal Division crown and that will make for a hungry bunch.  In fact, Duke can play a major role in determining the division winner taking on the Hokies this week and North Carolina this Thursday.

While Duke is playing for wins now, they are also building for the future.  It's important to remember that programs sometimes take a step back in the process of continued winning.

Every time the Blue Devils tak to the field, their true freshman quarterback, Daniel Jones gains experience, as do his teammates. Not to look too far ahead, but the Blue Devils will return a lot of key player next season.

The Blue Devils still have some key seniors playing, but many are on the injury list.  On the other side of the ball this weekend, the Hokies are healthy and on a roll.

First year coach,, Justin Fuente has his team believing and ranked among the nation's top teams.The Hokies come into Wade riding wins over Miami and Pitt as they battle North Carolina for the division crown and a chance to play in the title game.

Duke won a barn burner a year ago in overtime and this years Hokie offense is even more explosive.  They've been running a wide open passing attack with success.  The visitors feature a lights out kicker in Joey Slye as well, but much of his success has come when the offense stalls in the red zone.

There should be a good crowd for the game in that Duke has advertised tickets in the Blacksburg market.  In fact, it is likely to be a pro Tech crowd.  Despite that, Duke seems to play better in larger crowds despite being outnumbered.

With three of four captains watching from the sidelines, it may be too much to ask for a Duke win.  On the other hand, if the 6-2 Hokies look past Duke, they are more than capable of pulling off an upset for their first ACC win.

Duke will wear new commemorative Battleship Grey matte helmets to celebrate hosting the Rose Bowl against Oregon State 75 seasons ago during World War II.  The game will be televised on ESPNU and kicks off at 3:30 PM ET.


Duke Defense Stymies Army

The Duke Blue Devils scored an early touchdown where backup quarterback, Parker Boehme hit Erich Schneider on a 3 yard pass. Duke never trailed after that score and go on to  13-6 win over Army on a rainy day in Durham.

It wasn't always easy for Duke in that once again they were hurt by turnovers.  And then there was a defensive lapse where Andy Davison ran it right up the middle to score on a 45 yard jaunt.

Up until that point, the Duke defense played very well in the first half and held Army out of the end zone after a botched punt attempt. Duke also had a first half score on a Daniel Jones to Aaron Young pass which went for 22 yards.  That made for a 13-6 halftime lead.  The catch from Young, a redshirt freshman was his first career touchdown at Duke.

In the second half, the teams both remained scoreless s the defense took over on a rain soaked day.  Time and time again, the Blue Devils defense made big plays that helped Duke even their record on the season to 3-3.

There are times when a team just needs a win and the Blue Devils won an ugly game due to the weather.  Duke would gain only nine first downs for 189 yards on offense.  But the defense held Army to one less first down and just 214 yards.

The weather made it very hard to pass the ball and Duke freshman quarterback Daniel Jones went 7 of 15 for 41 yards, but was sacked five times on the day.

Duke also lost starting center Austin Davis in the 1st half and he never returned.  Ben Humphreys led the way for Duke on defense with 10 total tackles, 2.5 of those for a loss.  Deondre Singleton had an interception and fumble recovery.

The Blue Devils will face the best offense they have seen all season when they take on Louisville this coming Friday.  Duke will be on a short week, while the Cards led by Lamar Jackson the Heisman favorite are coming off a bye week.


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


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.


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.


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.