Category Archives: Duke Football

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Game preview: Kansas at Duke

DSC_0001-001Kansas at Duke
3:30 PM ET
Saturday, September 13
Durham, NC
TV: RSN (Affiliate List), ESPN3
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 92, XM 194

Duke in 2014: 2-0
Kansas in 2014: 1-0

DUKE INJURIES

OUT – Dan Beilinson (TE), Johnathan Lloyd (CB), Trip McNeill (OL), Jake Sanders (OL)

OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Taariq Shabazz (DE)

KANSAS INJURIES

OUT FOR SEASON – Brandon Bourbon (RB), Taylor Cox (RB)

 

Duke and Kansas finish out a home-and-home series on Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham. The two teams last met in 2009 in Lawrence, with the Jayhawks dominating the Blue Devils, 44-16. Much has changed for the two perenial basketball powers since that last meeting, with the Blue Devils coming off an ACC Coastal Division Championship, while Kansas looks to rebuild under Charlie Weis after totaling just 4 wins in his first two seasons.

HOW DUKE CAN WIN

The Blue Devils are 20 point favorites in this game, against a Big 12 opponent. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. Over the past two seasons, Duke has seemingly learned how to win football games, while Kansas has found ways to lose. Anthony Boone and the Blue Devil offense should be salivating at film of a Kansas defense that allowed 421 total yards to SE Missouri State in week 2. Under new OC Scottie Montgomery, Duke is looking to spread the ball around in their offense, and expect the Blue Devils to continue that trend. Issac Blakeney, already with 3 TDs on the young season, is sure to draw the attention of the Jayhawks’ secondary, who will struggle to match up with his size and the speed of Jamison Crowder, lining up opposite him. His wound continues to take care of the ball, expect another big day for the Blue Devil receivers.

Defensively, it all comes down to containing the elusive Montell Cozart under center. The Jayhawks’ sophomore signal caller is able to make plays with both his arm and his feet, and the Duke defensive front will need to be disciplined in its pass rush. Kansas features a veteran offensive line that averages over 300 pounds; Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo and company will need to continue to find ways to cause disruption in the backfield. Cozart is aided by a veteran receiving corps led by seniors Tony Pierson and Nick Harwell, each of whom found the red zone in the Jayhawks’ opener. Offensively, Kansas will present the biggest challenge to Duke’s young secondary in the first month of the season. De’Andre Mann and Corey Avery pace the Jayhawks on the ground, and an early Blue Devil lead will help to neutralize their effectiveness.

HOW DUKE CAN LOSE

Kansas is a team that can certainly upset the blue Devils should they find a way to put together a complete 60 minute game. In their season opening win, they jumped out to a 24-0 lead behind a balanced offensive attack and opportunistic defense. The Jayhawks forced three interceptions and held the Redhawks to 5/16 on third down.

As Duke demonstrated a week ago at Troy, a balanced, up tempo offense can pose a significant challenge. Though only a sophomore, Cozart has the talent to be a dynamic playmaker and has the offensive weapons to put up points quickly. Expect Weis to have a solid offensive gameplan to attack the question marks on Duke’s defense.

While the Blue Devils have taken care of the ball on offense thus far this season, they have failed to come up with takeaways defensively. To pull off the upset on the road, Kansas has to win the turnover battle and limit opportunities for the Duke playmakers.

WHY DUKE WILL WIN

In what may turn into a Big 12-style shootout, Duke has the more experienced quarterback and the more dynamic offense. Expect the Blue Devils to come out hungry after an inconsistent effort at Troy and put up points quickly. Kansas will struggle to match up with the Duke wide receivers, who will again find the end zone Saturday. The Duke defense will finally get on the board in the turnover department and provide some separation in the second half. If the Jayhawks dare to kick to Edwards or Crowder, expect one of them to break a big return to swing momentum for the Blue Devils. Another solid game from the Duke running back stable will help to seal the victory.

BOTTOM LINE

These two programs appear headed in different directions, with the Blue Devils looking to defend their ACC Coastal Division crown and the Jayhawks searching for wins on their schedule. Boone and company will again light up the scoreboard in Wallace Wade Stadium. More free french fries!

Duke 45, Kansas 28

Ross Marin, copyright BDN Photo

Duke PK Ross Martin Talks Kicking

Ross Marin, copyright BDN Photo

Moving forward, Duke placekicker Ross Martin will concentrate on his capable field goal kicking abilities.  Martin has yet to miss this season with concern to both field goals and extra points.  He has relinquished his kickoff duties to senior teammate Jack Willoughby and that should help to save his leg strength for when he is called upon again.  We chatted up Martin this past Tuesday and here is what he had to say –

 

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Issac Blakeney Stepping Up

Issac-Blakeney-8-13-12Durham, N.C. - Issac Blakeney is one of the Duke Football players that has stepped his game up this young season.  For those of you that haven’t noticed he was moved as primarily an inside receiver to the outside and he’s flourished in that role to date.  After two games, the senior wideout has caught a total of nine passes and three of those receptions went for touchdowns.  Blakeney has not only caught the most scores to date, he has had the longest reception which went for 49 yards.  In the following video, Blakeney talks about his improvement, his move to become and outside receiver and his chemistry with Duke quarterback Anthony Boone –

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Duke 34 Troy 17 – A Look Back

DSC_0022-001The Duke Blue Devils moved to 2-0 on the young season with their 34-17 victory over Troy.  Blue Devil Nation takes a look at the game with some thoughts and analogies –

Blue Devils Knocked Back Early

There is no sugar-coating the fact that Duke was slow to get out of the gate against Troy.  The Blue Devils looked sluggish on both sides of the ball as the Trojans took an early 14-3 lead on two 83 yard drives.  A lot of this is due to the team adjusting to playing better competition as the weeks develop.  Adjustments were made and Duke went on to out score Troy 31-3 the rest of the game, but there is some concern in that a slow start against some of the more talented opponents on the teams schedule could prove too much to overcome.  Duke regained their confidence and by games end they didn’t seem to be wanting to run the score up.  At the same time, a veteran team is expected to put games away  by implementing a dominant instinct and while the team won, it was far from an especially impressive victory.  To move forward as a program, the team will have to manage expectations better and put teams away when opportunities present themselves.

Defensive Stars Step Up

As was stated, the Duke defense was knocked back early on.  But adjustments were made and the team played with much better confidence down the stretch.  Three players had phenomenal games.  David Helton had his best game to date with 15 tackles and he helped move payers on defense once they dug in much like the injured Kelby Brown use to do.  DeVon Edwards was in on 14 tackles and had an absolute key kickoff return to the Blue Devils winning efforts. Lastly, team captain Jeremy Cash, was in on 9 tackles and provided a sack.

Playing Smart

Anthony Boone played a safe and smart game and used his ability to run to avoid what would have been sacks a season ago.  Also, the Blue Devils played their second consecutive turnover free effort.  Protecting the ball is vital in close games and Duke has been able to avoid getting into holes in games to date by protecting the ball.

Not Especially Pretty or Smooth

While the win was effective, it wasn’t the type of consistent performance that will give Duke more votes when the polls come out this week.  There is some work to be done and thankfully it’s early in the season and a time when Duke is playing their more manageable games.  Duke did some good things, put a lot of yards up but they probably should have taken better advantage of field position and scoring opportunities at times.  Duke settled for field goals when a touchdown would have put the game on ice.

At The Same Time …

Duke was never really threatened once they took the lead or you just didn’t feel the urgency after they settled into the game past being down 14-3 early on.  Trust me when I say, Duke held back a bit on Elon and they likely did that to a degree last evening as well not showing their full hand at this point in the season.  Cutcliffe has been on the side of the ball when teams tried to run it up and he’s not been one to do that to other teams possibly from that experience.  Duke won the game, came out of it seemingly healthy and avoided a loss playing a traditionally pesky team in their backyard.  Games like Troy are in some respects no win situations in that you are expected to win.  But Troy is the kind of program capable of springing upsets and they have a tradition of playing better teams tough.  If you beat them, you were supposed to do so, if lose to them, it’s considered a disaster.  The bottom line is that Duke took care of business and that’s what counts and they are unblemished on the early season.

Plenty To Be Gained

At some point, Duke Coach David Cutliffe will watch game film with his staff.  The Troy game showed a lot of areas the Blue Devils need to work on and they exploited some weaknesses early on.  But there is now an opportunity to tighten things up after the first road game of the season.  Last year the Duke staff was as good as it gets in making in season adjustments, especially after they lost consecutive games.  And a look around the ACC Coastal Division clearly shows that there is not one game on the schedule that can be considered a sure win.  How Duke makes adjustments and improves in season will be a key as a look at the schedule today, shows a much tougher road than many may have seen in the pre season.  With all the Coastal teams playing good football and talented, it will be interesting to see how the Blue Devils handle the coming games.

Duke's running back stable will have a big day at Troy - BDN Photo

Game preview: Duke at Troy

Duke at Troy
7:00 PM ET
Saturday, September 6
Troy, AL
TV: ESPN3
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 135

Duke in 2014: 1-0
Troy in 2014: 0-1

DUKE INJURIES

OUT – Dan Beilinson (TE), C.J. France (LB), Johnathan Lloyd (CB), Trip McNeill (OL), Jake Sanders (OL)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Taariq Shabazz (DE)

TROY INJURIES

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The Troy Trojans made a trip to Durham a year ago, falling to the Blue Devils, 38-31. This year, Duke returns the favor with a visit to Troy, Alabama in week two. Behind four touchdowns from Anthony Boone, Duke cruised to an easy win in their opener against Elon, while the Trojans were trampled on the road by the UAB Blazers, 48-10.

HOW DUKE CAN WIN

On his weekly conference call, OC Scottie Montgomery said to be at their best, the Blue Devil offense is all about balance. A balanced attack from Anthony Boone and company should consistently find the end zone against a Troy defense that allowed 338 rushing yards to UAB and finished 115th against the pass in 2013.  Troy HC Larry Blakeney stated this week that the Blue Devils will represent the best offensive line the Trojans will face this season (and Troy will face Georgia in week 4). The key to a balanced offensive attack starts at the line of scrimmage, where Duke will need to impose their will against the struggling Trojan front seven. Expect to see Duke once again rely heavily on veteran RBs Josh Snead and Shaquille Powell as they look to impose a fast pace and consistently move the chains.

Defensively, DC Jim Knowles is likely to implement a more aggressive gameplan than against Elon, looking to turn up the heat on young redshirt-freshman QB Brandon Silvers. A big night from the Duke front six will force the young Trojan offense into turnovers, something they were unable to do against Elon in their opener.

The one glaring weakness in Duke’s effort against Elon was in the kicking game, where the Blue Devils were out-hit by the Phoenix. Coach Cutcliffe spent significant time analyzing the kicking game struggles and expect to see a better effort from Duke in week 2.

HOW DUKE CAN LOSE

On their way to a 10-2 regular season, the Blue Devils survived a scare at home against the Trojans a year ago. It would be foolish to overlook this year’s Troy team simply based on their week one result. Head Coach Larry Blakeney and his staff will have the Trojans ready for their home opener (Troy is 22-1 in home openers under Blakeney). On the road against a quality opponent, the Blue Devils cannot afford to make things easy for the Trojans. Ball security is paramount for a Duke offense that on paper should be able to move the ball with ease.

On the road, explosives can give a home team all the momentum it needs to pull off an unlikely upset. Add in a rowdy home crowd (yes, they will be serving adult beverages in Troy), and a few key plays could be all it takes for the tables to turn on Duke. The Blue Devils’ surrendered a few explosives in the return game against Elon, and a similar missed assignment on the road could lead to a game-changing score. Similarly, Duke’s young secondary must keep the Trojan receivers, led by Chandler Worthy in week one. If Troy jumps out to a lead, expect them to try and ride their own four-headed running back committee of Brandon Burks, Jordan Chunn, Khary Franklin and Tim Longmire to victory.

WHY DUKE WILL WIN

The Trojans are searching for a defensive identity and the Blue Devils’ offensive playmakers will leave them searching for answers. As they did for most of their season opener, Duke will control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Multiple Duke RBs will find their way into the end zone, while the Duke WR trio of Jamison Crowder, Issac Blakeney, and Max McCaffrey will continue their early season success. Carlos Wray and company will frequent the Trojan backfield and Troy will again struggle to convert on third down.

BOTTOM LINE

As they did a year ago in week two at Memphis, expect the Blue Devils to face their first true adversity of the season on Saturday at Troy. The Trojans will be motivated to bounce back after an embarrassing opening week loss, and will keep this close early. Behind a big day from #TheStable and a bend-but-not-break defense, Duke pulls away in the second half.

Duke 41, Troy 20