Category Archives: Duke Football

Boone 150x150

2014 Will Be a Senior Laden Team

Boone 150x150Duke will be a senior laden team in 2014. A quick look at the roster reveals 15 seniors with starting experience who will either start or be the first substitute at their position in 2014. Eight of the fifteen will take the field on defense, while the remaining seven are offensive players. Those fifteen players are spread across all positions with the exception of the secondary.

Here is the player listing with the number of career starts in parenthesis:

OG Laken Tomlinson (39), OT Takoby Cofield (29), LB Kelby Brown (29), WR Jamison Crowder (27), LB David Helton (19), DT Jamal Bruce (15), TE Braxton Deaver (15), QB Anthony Boone (12), LB C.J. France (12), RB Josh Snead (11), DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (9), DT Jamal Wallace (8), DE Dezmond Johnson (6), WR Issac Blakeney (5), DE Jonathan Jones (2).

Those numbers reflect a great deal of experience by players who have become accustomed to winning over the past two seasons. Their experience should pay big dividends in the upcoming 2014 season when Duke takes the field to defend their Coastal Division Championship.

Experience can be quantified by looking at the number of games a player has started and the number of snaps he has played. How about talent level? Are Duke’s seniors talented? Judging by the number who earned post season and preseason accolades, the answer is yes.

Jamison Crowder and Kelby Brown were 1st Team All ACC in 2013, while Laken Tomlinson was named to the 2nd Team and Braxton Deaver was named to the 3rd Team. Tomlinson and Deaver were also named to the ESPN All-Bowl Team.

A look at 2014 preview magazines lists reveals the presence of the four seniors listed above plus David Helton, Anthony Boone and Takoby Cofield. Here are the preseason All ACC selections by a couple of magazines.

Lindy’s: (1st Team) Jamison Crowder and Laken Tomlinson. (2nd Team) Kelby Brown, Braxton Deaver and David Helton. (3rd Team) Anthony Boone.

Phil Steele: (1st Team) Jamison Crowder, Laken Tomlinson and Kelby Brown. (2nd Team) Braxton Deaver and David Helton. (3rd Team) Anthony Boone. (4th Team) Takoby Cofield.

Both Jamison Crowder and Laken Tomlinson were named preseason All America by various magazines.

With the facts all lined up, it is evident Duke’s senior class is both experienced and talented.

Strong leadership is a crucial element in team success with experience significantly enhancing leadership acumen. The 2014 squad is loaded with talented, experienced players who are potential team leaders.

Anthony Boone was a team captain in 2013 and will be expected to be the team leader in 2014.

When discussing leadership, Josh Snead has to be part of the conversation. Snead led Duke in rushing in 2013 with 651 yards on 107 carries for an impressive 6.1 yards per carry average. Snead is vocal leader on both the field and the sidelines and will certainly be a guy teammates look to for both direction and inspiration.

The five senior defensive linemen could be the group who will have the biggest impact on achieving success in 2014. Games are won and lost in the trenches so it will be up to the defensive linemen to control the line of scrimmage and generate a pass rush to disrupt the opponent’s offensive flow.

In 2013, Jonathan Jones recorded three quarterback sacks, Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo recorded two, while Dezmond Johnson and Jamal Bruce generated one each. The importance of pressuring the quarterback cannot be overstated so it is imperative the senior defensive lineman are productive in order for Duke to be successful.

Behind the front four, line-up two extremely productive linebackers. Kelby Brown and David Helton are dynamic ball players with a nose for the football. Helton led the team in tackles with 133, while Brown recorded 114 tackles and two big interceptions in wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

On offense, Duke returns their leading passer, receiver and rusher from last season: Anthony Boone threw for 2260 yards an 13 touchdowns; Jamison Crowder hauled in 108 receptions for 1360 yards and eight touchdowns; and, Josh Snead rushed for 651 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, senior Braxton Deaver recorded 46 receptions for 600 yards and four touchdowns. Those four seniors will bring a tremendous amount of experience onto the field in 2014.

Turning to the offensive line, senior Laken Tomlinson is one of the best offensive linemen in the country. He will be drafted in one of the early rounds of the NFL Draft come next spring. Takoby Cofield also possesses NFL level talent and from his left tackle position he will be tasked with protecting Anthony Boone’s blindside.

While this article focuses on the seniors, the 2014 Blue Devils will include many talented juniors such as 2013 All America selectee Jeremy Cash plus plenty of underclassmen who shined last season. Junior Will Monday and sophomore DeVon Edwards also earned high praise in the various preview magazines.

However, 2014 is the last hooray for the seniors so the expectation is they will be playing with a sense of urgency. It is the seniors who will lead the charge when the Blue Devils take the field looking to earn a second consecutive trip to the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game and a third straight bowl game.

Fortunately for Duke, this year’s seniors are a strong group of talented, experienced leaders!

SONY DSC

Countdown to Kickoff Part 1 – Setting the table

d gt 001The time to win for Duke Football is now. Coming off back to back bowl games and returning several key starters this is a season when we should expect the Blue Devils to win and continue their bowl streak which would stretch to three straight.

The Blue Devils gained some serious momentum a season ago by winning their division and eventually dropping their final game of the season to Johnny Football and Texas A & M in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl. If you remember Texas A & M was coming off a win over Alabama the season before and they had three very high first round draft picks. They were also projected as a pre season top five team. What I am saying is had you told the average person Duke would take this team in a bowl game by seasons end and they’d be wondering about your mental state.

Last year was truly a break through season for the Blue Devils, but it didn’t always look like that would happen. Duke suffered a disappointing loss to Pitt where they could not stop their offense from scoring and they then suffered a loss to Georgia Tech in back to back games in Wallace Wade Stadium.

In hindsight those losses probably slowed the bandwagon of fans that have now come aboard in that nobody could envision that Duke would flip things around after a 2-2 start. It took another close win over Troy but then came a bye week and Duke rocked Navy and that started a roll where they took out Virginia, Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Miami, Wake Forest and North Carolina to close their regular season at an amazing 10-2 record.

During that time Duke Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles found some mojo and the job he did past the Troy game was more than just a little impressive. Anyhow, as each week passed, people started to believe and attendance started to get better.

The momentum Cut’s crew has established will carry over going into this season and the crowds will continue to get better provided they take care of business. Duke has already sold more season ticket packages and in the next three years or more, the Administration will start to implement changes to Wallace Wade and along awaited better experience for the fans attending.

Duke has always had a cult base of fans for the program, but now, more want to come aboard and winning has a way of sparking interest. It also helps that Duke is recruiting better than they have since a singular banner class under former coach Steve Sloan. Yes, I am dating myself, for we are talking the eighties. But Cut has done something no other coach was able to do, since Bill Murray and that is building a truly sold foundation in which to operate.

You may have noticed that I have said the time is now to win, so let me explain that a bit more. Duke returns a solid talent base and they have good leadership in the senior class, but after this season they will rebuild a little bit and that is the nature of the beast. They will be much younger in two years and could take a small, yet temporary step back.

Add that to a schedule where for the first time in years you can make the claim that they could beat anyone on the slate and you can start to feel me. But be warned, Duke will not sneak up on a soul this season and everyone will take them seriously, some circling the game on their schedule. What Duke has to guard against is complacency and remain hungry to continue the building process.

In the pre season polls, Duke has been picked anywhere from second in their division to tied for last. That means, the program is still earning respect but doing so quickly. On paper, it is hard to argue with Duke not possibly being the pick to win the Coastal, but Miami returns some kids from key injuries and they take on the Blue Devils in Miami. Then there is Virginia Tech.

Make no mistake that the Hokies will come to Durham this year hell-bent on revenge. Last year, I’d argue the win over Virginia Tech was the key to going 10-2 and that win, despite a day when the offense struggled mightily to do a thing, showed that Duke had learned how to win games when one side of the ball was having issues.

Duke was also able to defeat North Carolina for the second consecutive season to save the Victory Bell from returning from its long time home and that is more than a little huge to players and fans alike. But the Heels, despite that, are considered better than Duke by most picking their pre season picks to date. The Blue Devil will also face stiff competition from Georgia Tech a team that’s had their number for far too long and Virginia is more experienced at key positions.

So there. I have set the table and talked a bit about the wonderful season a year ago but it’s now time to start to look ahead and tomorrow the Blue Devil Nation will continue it’s one article a day take on Duke Football in July and by the end of the month, we feel you will have a much better grip on what to look for in 2014-15 and tomorrow our series or preview will continue on a daily basis every day in July, so be sure to check back in.

SONY DSC

BDN’s Countdown to Kickoff Begins

SONY DSCWith today being the first day of July, Blue Devil Nation will start to take a deep look at everything Duke Football.  The goal is to have a new post everyday previewing the season by folks who’ve covered the program for years.  As you all know, Duke is coming off their first ten win season in school history, not to mention back to back bowl games for the first time ever.

Last year was an amazing season and the progress Coach David Cutcliffe and company have made on the field and the recruiting trail is worthy of plenty of chatter.  We feel that will continue and that the time to win is now in that the Blue Devils have some key veteran players.  In fact, Duke may have arrived a season early a year ago, much like the basketball team did when they won their first national title under Coach Mike Krzyzewski, only to repeat the following season.  While that analogy is on similar in nature, there is plenty of hope and chance the football team goes to an unprecedented third straight bowl game and is a force in the ACC.

That said, we look forward to breaking down many aspects of the program, be it scheduling, position battles and the liquid changes to facilities and more.  So, check in every single day this month as we begin the hype for the 2014-15 season.

Big Georgia DL Tre McSwain committed to Duke on Monday night.

Duke Football adds big commitment from Georgia DL Trevon McSwain

Big Georgia DL Tre McSwain committed to Duke on Monday night.
Big Georgia DL Tre McSwain committed to Duke on Monday night.

While the USMNT was busy finishing off Ghana at the World Cup, Duke Football stayed hot on the recruiting trail. The class of 2015 has hit double digits with the Monday evening addition of DL Trevon McSwain, a 6’6″ 230 pound prospect out of Lanier High School. McSwain chose the Blue Devils over 20 other offers including Tennessee, Georgia Tech, NC State, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin. A recent trip to Durham for the Saturday Night Live Elite Camp sealed the deal for the stud defensive lineman. McSwain is a consensus high 3-star prospect by all of the major recruiting services.

The Blue Devils had also picked up a commitment from fellow DL Marquies Price after the SNL camp.

Newly minted WR Coach Jeff Faris was the first to #RingTheBell on Twitter, calling it a “historic day” for Duke Football. Faris has been the primary recruiter for several members of the class of 2015.

McSwain’s highlights are available here.

Stay tuned to BDN for more on the Duke Football class of 2015 and the upcoming season.

2

Taking a Look at Duke Football in Magazine Previews

d gt 001Before the advent of the World Wide Web, college football fans would flock to their local newsstands in early June to take a gander at the many college football pre season magazines. Back then, this was one of the only forms of information available to the casual fan and to this day, they still command some attention. After all, there is nothing like a hard copy for some good summer reading. Without further ado, let’s take a look at where the Blue Devils rank in the various magazines and a look at which player are being projected for national honors -

THE SPORTING NEWS

One of the oldest and most collected publications over the years was Street and Smiths pre season previews. Not long ago, the magazine merged with The Sporting News and now flies under its brand. This preview magazine is pretty straight forward with its information and has benefitted from a lay out facelift in the off-season, but there remains a lack of lists and chatter beyond the standard previews.

TSN National Champ pick – Oklahoma

Coastal Division picks – UNC, Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Pitt, UVA

All ACC - 1st team – Jamison Crowder, Kelby Brown

Noteworthy – Jamison Crowder picked 3rd Team All American

ATHLON

Athlon has been printing sports publications in the modern era and they provide fun little lists to go with their previews. They also print some regional offerings for major interest teams.

Athlon National Champ pick – Florida State

Coastal Division Predictions – Virginia Tech, Miami, UNC, Pitt, Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia

All ACC – 1st Team – Laken Tomlinson, 2nd Team – Jamison Crowder, Jeremy Cash, Kelby Brown, Braxton Deaver

Noteworthy – Despite being picked 5th in their division, Athlon picks Duke 38th overall in the nation. Laken Tomlinson is projected to be 2nd Team All American. Devon Edwards and Jamison Crowder are listed as All ACC Specialists.

LINDY’S

Lindy’s came onto the scene about the same time as Athlon and the two are almost always the first two previews to hit newsstands. Good lists and articles add to the preview magazine.

Lindy’s National Champs pick – Florida State

ACC Coastal Division picks – Miami, Duke, Pitt, UNC, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Virginia

All ACC – 1st Team Jamison Crowder, Laken Tomlinson, Jeremy Cash, Will Monday. 2nd Team – Braxton Deaver, Ross Martin, David Helton, Kelby Brown. 3rd Team – Anthony Boone, DeVon Edwards.

Noteworthy - Duke is picked as the 35th best team in the nation. Jamison Crowder is listed as the 5th best WR in the nation, Braxton Deaver the 3rd best TE in the land and Tomlinson the 4th best RG in the country. Also, Jeremy Cash is ranked as the 7th best safety and Monday the 7th best punter.

Also on newsstands is a USA Today preview that picks Duke to win the Coastal Division and go 10-2 in the regular season. They also rank the Blue Devils 17th in the nation in their top 25 ahead of some juggernaut programs.

The best of the pre season magazines, Phil Steele’s preview is slated to be out this week and it is jammed packed with information and it gets my top recommendation. As you can see, Duke Football has mixed views going into the season, but it is clear there is more respect than ever after last seasons amazing run and a record-setting 10 wins. Yes. You can actually pick up a college football preview magazine these days and see how far the program has come.

announcement

Premium Members – Important News!

announcementThis is just to let you all know that we are making a major move today. Our servers will be moving to a new web host, which we expect to bring you much improved performance and reliability.  We are also implementing new membership software, which should provide a smoother integration with Paypal for processing and posting payments.

As with all such changes on the web, there are bound to be a few glitches. If you have any difficulty logging in, please notify us at Admin@BlueDevilNation.net and we’ll do our best to get things sorted out for you quickly.

Thanks to all of our members for your support.  We are confident that these changes will make the Blue Devil Nation a better experience than ever before!