Category Archives: Duke Football

Where will Duke go Bowling and who will they play?

Where will Duke go bowling and who will they play? Here is my guess...

The Duke Blue Devils defeated Wake Forest 31-23 to become bowl eligible today.  I checked in with my best sources and have the most likely destinations and the opponent which they may play.

Here is a breakdown of the three possibilities and the likely opponent.  My best guesses are -

Walk On's Independence Bowl on December 27th Shreveport, Louisiana - Duke (6-6) vs Kentucky (7-5) Payout $1,200,000 each

A match up of basketball giants who have turned their football programs around in recent years.  Missouri is a possibility here.  With the lack of eligible SEC teams, this matchup could be a long shot.  Middle Tennessee or a Conference USA team is in play.

Military Bowl by Northrup Grumman at Navy Marine Corp Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland - Duke (6-6) vs Navy (6-5) Payout $1 million each

Navy will be playing Army before this game.  Duke fans would attend this game in the D.C. area.  UVA could be attractive with concern to attendance,

Quick Lane Bowl on December 28th in Detroit Michigan - Duke (6-6) vs Purdue (6-6) or MAC Team Payout $1,200,000 each

An ACC vs Big 10 matchup at Ford Field.  An upstart Purdue team would face the Blue Devils.  Another possibility would be a MAC team such as Central Michigan or Akron.  The current feel is that this will be the Blue Devils destination but some politics are in play so we will wait and see.


Duke seeks bowl eligibility in regular season final

Win and they’re in.

The Blue Devils will travel to Winston-Salem on Saturday in search of their fifth bowl in the last six seasons. A sixth win will be no easy feat, as the Demon Deacons, led by senior quarterback John Wolford, just knocked off #25 NC State a week ago.

Wolford has put together an impressive final campaign for Wake Forest, leading the ACC in passer rating while also adding 10 touchdowns on the ground. The Demon Deacons sit at 7-4 and look to improve their bowl resume with a win over their in-state rival. Containing Wolford and the read option offense will be a challenge for a Jim Knowles’ defense playing without two starters in LB Ben Humphreys and S Jeremy McDuffie. With that being said, the Duke defense has played well enough to keep this team in almost every game on the season, and Saturday should be no different.

Daniel Jones and the Blue Devil offense, however, have been far from consistent. After an impressive 4-0 start to September, Duke fumbled their way through a six-game losing streak where they averaged just 12 points per game. As Coach Cutcliffe alluded to this week, “it’s not been any one thing...sometimes it's protection, route running, dropped balls, inconsistency of the run game.” Yet, somewhat inexplicably, Jones and the offense exploded for 43 points last week against Georgia Tech, and here they sit, on the cusp of bowl eligibility. Last week’s effort is a true testament to the Duke coaching staff and senior leaders, who have continued to work and believe in this group despite their struggles.

Beyond the obvious, there are a number of interesting storylines to this matchup. Both Cutcliffe and Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson have done commendable jobs at their respective institutions, and it is no surprise that both names have been associated with the current opening in Knoxville.

Wake Forest boasts a 2-0 record against North Carolina schools this year, with wins against Appalachian State and NC State. Duke enters the contest also with a 2-0 in-state record against NC Central and North Carolina. As such, an unofficial state championship and bragging rights are on the line Saturday. Amazingly, the Blue Devils are 15-3 in their last 18 match-ups with in-state schools.

These two teams have played a number of memorable games over the past several seasons, though the Blue Devils have won four of the last five. With what’s at stake for both teams, this season’s finale should be well worth watching.

David Cutcliffe Talks Duke-Wake Forest

DAVE CUTCLIFFE: All right. The first thing that comes to my mind is I guess this is the last teleconference I will be doing with Mike Finn.

Mike, just appreciate your professionalism, your leadership, and commitment to the ACC. It's coming on a Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, so I just want to let you know and all those listening, how thankful I am of the ten years I've had to work with you in the ACC.

So I'm talking about I'm not so thankful about having to play Wake Forest who may be as hot a football team as there is. Just really playing at a high level, a very talented team. They've got a nice blend of experience, leadership, with some young players that are playing at a high level. They're extremely well-coached in all three phases. They are a huge challenge for us, and particularly with Jeremy McDuffie we announced today will be facing knee surgery Monday. So we lost he and Ben Humphreys over the last few weeks. That's been a difficult challenge.

So along with Wake being as good as they are, we've got to rally and refocus and be ready. I'll take your questions.

Q. To look at your team, and I know you said you're not thankful for having to play Wake Forest. But the six-game losing streak your team got back against Georgia Tech, and you control your own destiny in this last game to move forward and get into the bowl season. Just what you can say about the importance of this game? And despite the skid that you had, the fact that the team got back to winning, just what that showed you with the resiliency of your team to not end the way things had been going?
DAVE CUTCLIFFE: Well, we had Senior Day here, 21 seniors, counting our scholarship and walk-on players. We've got seven senior starters, and their leadership throughout the difficult time has been outstanding, as well as the staff keeping it together. If you're not able to do that, you will never come out of it. So it's been a lot of hard work and it's difficult. But proud of their approach.

The thing that we face this weekend, it's Wake Forest to us, which is a rival. It's an hour and 15 minutes down the road, and really that's where your focus lies. There are things that can come good from this if we can go play well enough to win the game. But I'm hoping, what I want to see and we did it today, is to kind of practice and focus the intensity that we can play, and we did better than a week ago, and that's always to go.

Q. Coach, with a decade at Duke, just what you can say you have learned from your time there, and you've taken away from your time there? Longevity is something you don't see a lot in college football anymore. Just what you can say about the last ten years that you've taken from Duke?
DAVE CUTCLIFFE: I think the way longevity works, and I believe this about college football, you have an opportunity to win if you surround yourself with really good people. It's been a lot of combinations of good people. We've had coaches go on to be head coaches and we've had some coaches go on to the NFL. But we've kept our support group intact.

You don't want to use the term family if it's not real. But we've been able to develop a Duke football family here, and we all care enough about each other to make this thing go. That is a carry over to your players, because they sense those types of people around them. So I think that's the most important part of what we do, to be honest with you. I know that I've learned that here.

Q. I know the numbers maybe don't necessarily reflect his performance, but how would you kind of view where year two has gone for Daniel in terms of his progression as a quarterback?
DAVE CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, he has had some spots where it's been tough. Some of that he would accept and probably all of it he would accept. But as his coach, it's some of the things that are going on around him, and it's not been any one thing. Sometimes protection has been an issue. Sometimes the route running or drop balls, the inconsistency of a run game at times is never friendly to a quarterback.

So, what I can tell you is this about him, and I sat down with him Sunday about this. His growth is far beyond the numbers. Difficulty is when we find ourselves gaining the most growth, and that's really a fact of life. It's not a very pleasant fact of life. But he's accepted the role that he's been given. He's better today for it, and I know that he is looking forward to another big challenge this week but he's also really hungry to try to do something special. So I like where he is mentally. I think he understands the circumstances that he's dealt with right now.

Q. In ten years of doing this, do you have a good Mike Finn story to share? Your memory of Mike Finn?
DAVE CUTCLIFFE: Well, I can tell you my early memories of Mike Finn are how quickly he got tired of me bringing up anything we did in the SEC, you know? And now I'm such a long-term ACC member, that I clearly understand that.

Mike doesn't say much. He just looks at you, so he's burned me a few times with his eyes in the early days. I mean that respectfully, Mike. But you can burn people pretty good with your eyes when you want to. So that's quickly what bounced into my mind when you asked.

Q. I will take my moment to say thank you to Mike for all of us on this side of the line as well. I appreciate all the terrible questions he's probably listened to over the years.
DAVE CUTCLIFFE: Well, I tell you, Mike's pretty special, David. I appreciate you saying that myself.

Q. Offensively, what changed for you last week? What do you need to tell your team that they need to recapture and keep that on that same level offensively this week?
DAVE CUTCLIFFE: Well, I think you always look at your preparation. The consistency of your preparation or inconsistency of it is real, and you are trying to win the game every rep out there at practice. And if you don't approach it that way -- this isn't coach talk. I can show them on tape, and I have. If you are in that mode that you think you can overcome practice, you're rarely right. So some of the inconsistencies that we've seen, I could, during games, I could show our guys, and I did on practice tape. When we've played extremely well, counter to that, I can show them what it's supposed to look like at practice. So that's kind of the focus that we've maintained, and we put a big value in how we work at practice.

Q. Coach, obviously William Holmquist had a pretty special moment kicking that extra point the other day. I was just wondering maybe your thoughts a few days after, and if it's been a special couple days for him?
DAVE CUTCLIFFE: You know, if I could have physically done a back flip at that moment, I would have on the sideline. That's how much I think of Willie Holmquist. He is a fine, fine young man.

His opportunity, and first thing I said to him, I said, you're in the books, buddy. You've scored at Duke. But he's overcome what some people might view as a disability, he doesn't. But his lack of hearing has brought a focus to that young man that I think is special. I'm not just talking about a football field. Anybody that wants to have a good conversation with Willie Holmquist, he is locked in. We had one today.

So I'm very happy he's here. His value has gone beyond the field. He's a great teammate. He's a great person. I think Duke is going to be very fortunate to have a great grad student leave here and represent Duke University as well as tufts very well.

Q. Dave, I asked Dave Clawson this question a little while ago. We went a generation or more without Duke or Wake having any success at all on the football field. It looked at times like maybe that just wasn't possible, and you've done what you've done at Duke. You've seen what he's done at Wake. It's a unique rivalry. But could you talk about how hard it is to win in a private school in today's NCAA climate?
DAVE CUTCLIFFE: Well, I will say this: Coming in here I may have thought I knew what I needed to do, and I don't know that we really did. What we did was we wrote down everything on a board, our staff at that time, and it was a lot of things of reasons we couldn't win. After looking at them and we erased a few and we kept the ones up there that we thought we could do something about. So I think that's the key, and it may -- we might want to use the term hard or we might want to use the term different.

I think it's not easy to win anywhere, and I think that's a misnomer. That's what I told our people here. I didn't want to hear anybody talk about how hard it was going to be to win here. It's not easy anywhere that I've ever been. I've been to the University of Alabama and Tennessee and Ole Miss. So I think the bottom line is you have to learn a place. And certainly know that Dave Clawson and his staff has done that at Wake. He's done it everywhere he's been. I think we've learned through time here that there is a way that I've got to be true to that path and true to that way is the one thing you've learned.

So I really don't like, and I'm not being gracious, I don't like the term it's hard here. It's different here, and you have to learn kind of how you go about it.

Duke at Army Preview

It will be a cool Fall day when Duke heads to Army to take on the 7-2 Cadets this weekend.  The Blue Devils are on a five game losing streak as they try to find the recipe for a win at hallowed West Point.

How can Duke win?

Army is all about ball control and they barely gave Air Force a chance on offense a week ago in a shut out win.  Duke must make the most of offensive possessions and keep their own defense off the field.  It would also help the Blue Devils to create a turnover and for the offense to find the end zone.

The concerns

Confidence plays a big role in games and the Blue Devils have had very little on offense in their last five games.  The Duke offensive coaches had a team film session watching the Virginia Tech game during the off week.  Duke flat-out does not need to play from behind in this contest to have a realistic chance of winning.

What will happen

My guess is a very low scoring game.  The Duke defense has played well this season but they have not faced an option team.  This is again, more or less a must win for the Blue Devils.  Duke has been pretty good under Cutcliffe after bye weeks and Army is coming off an emotional win over a fellow service academy.

The pick here is Duke 20 Army 17

Duke In Free Fall Headed Into By Week


The president, AD and Cut.

The Duke Blue Devils football team heads into the bye week on a five game losing streak and seeking answers.  After a 4-0 start where head coach David Cutcliffe won his 100th career game, the team has gone south in a big way.

Nobody really expected Duke to win at Virginia Tech this past weekend, but the losses to Virginia and Pittsburgh are a different story.  While few thought Duke would start the season 4-0, once that happened, they surely thought they'd be better than 4-5 heading into a two-week break,

While the program has gained big time facilities improvements off the field, the on the field performance has regressed.  Duke will noe be an underdog in all three of their remaining games where they need two wins to become bowl eligible.

Duke may well not win another game this year  unless they find a way to get things on track.  That would mean back to back 4-8 seasons and that is when plenty of reflection must take place moving forward.

The main culprit of the tailspin has been an offense that seems to have an endzone allergy.  Duke has averaged a mere 11 points per contest in their losses.  After looking as if this unit had improved after the fast start, they instead look even worse than a year ago.

Duke needed to average another touchdown per outing or around 31 ppg this season to win some games.  In a year, when the defense has shown vast improvement, the offense is just plain offensive at times and that is keeping wins off the board.

The cold harsh truth is the offense is out of synch and is playing with little confidence.  The downfield passing game  has been atrocious.  There are dropped and over or under thrown balls in every game and receivers cannot seem to get out of their own way or run a clean break.

It is just messy on offense where only the running game has seemed to work at times.  Daniel Jones in his second season as a starter has not been the player of late he was in the Blue Devils best win against Northwestern.  But it is not all his fault, but a collective issue on the scoring side of the pigskin.

It may have looked to some that Duke made progress against a Florida State program in a 17-10 loss.  But this is not your typical Seminoles team and they were ripe for an upset if you could score some points.  Florida State sits in last place in the Atlantic Division to date after being crushed by Boston College this past weekend,

Take away the Blue Devils win over NCCU and they have victories over a good Northwestern team and North Carolina and Baylor who have a single win between them.

It is hard to see this years team turn things around with any kind of objective view.  But they do get a week off where they need to do not only some serious soul-searching but make some changes in how they do things.

Duke will face two teams in a row which run the option in Army and Georgia Tech, so there is reason to feel the defense can prepare for another tough outing or two.  But they need help from the offense which has to put together a drive where they can find the endzone.  And they have to do this more than once.

To date the Blue Devils can hang their helmets on securing the Victory Bell for another season.  But one would think they want to do more than just that.    It will be interesting to see if this team can close the year as they started it and go into the off-season with some momentum.



Pitt at Duke Preview

Duke hopes to halt a three game losing streak when Pitt visits Brooks Field in Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday.  The Blue Devils should have every reason in the world to want a little revenge.  The reason being Pitt hung 56 points on Duke a season ago in what some viewed as running up the score.

What we always know is that Pitt will play a physical game of football in that is their modus operand.  They will be playing two quarterbacks in the game as their starter went down earlier in the season.  But make no mistake, there is little drop off there and plenty of good wideouts that can make big plays in the cupboard.

But this game will have more to do with Duke and how they respond.  After a solid 4-0 start, Duke finds itself seeking wins for bowl eligibility.  Duke is favored to win in this game but there is possibly one more game when that will be the case in the final five contests.

The Blue Devils have been a mess at times on offense of late.  They are struggling with the passing game, so maybe they will start to lean more on a team strength which is the running game.  Look for more two tight end sets as well with Duke looking to get their best pass catchers on the field.

The danger for Duke is that if their passing game does not start to click, teams will stack the box.  A week ago, only one receiver caught multiple passes.  The second man up had two catches for 8 yards.

One of the bright spots this season has been the defense.  The front quite young, but better and the secondary has made big plays.  One of the weaknesses has been simply field punts.  Duke has had horrible starting field position aided by solid kicks and unfortunate bounces.

The bottom line is that this game is a must win for the team and the program.  It is important to win against division foes and after last seasons lop sided loss at Pitt, Duke will be measured by how they perform on Saturday.

Duke should win this game.  They have the talent to do so but they must put together a consistent effort.

The pick here is Duke 31 Pitt 17