Category Archives: Duke Football

UVA Loss Leaves Duke Seeking Answers

The Duke football team is left seeking answers after a 28-21 loss to Virginia.  It was the Cavaliers third consecutive win in the series and the second consecutive ACC loss for Duke.

The Blue Devils struggles on the offensive side of the ball continue to plague progress.  Daniel Jones had a forgettable day as did his wideouts who had numerous drops.

Jones finished the day 14 of 42 with two interceptions and just 124 yards.  Duke would gain just 255 yards on the day.

"The story is pretty simple, it's the passing game.  We've got issues and it has somewhat disappeared," said Cutcliffe.  "We've got issues.  When they are open we miss them, when we hit them, we drop it.  It is just not functioning."

Duke fell flat in the second half being outscored 14-7 despite numerous opportunities to get back in the game.

"The most disappointing thing is we got whipped so badly in the second half as a team.  There are a lot of issues we have to address."

A visibly disturbed Cutcliffe is not left seeking answers.  He continued his post game press conference making reference to the many breakdowns. Cutcliffe said he thought his team could be special in the passing game this year but that there has been a total breakdown and it effects quarterback confidence.

Duke will not take on Florida State at home, so the games continue to get tougher.




Duke at Virginia Preview

The Duke Blue Devils (4-1) head to Charlottesville to take on Virginia (3-1) this Saturday.  The Wahoo Nation is excited after a road win over traditional toughie Boise State.  The Blue Devil Nation hopes their team gets back to its winning ways after falling to Miami.

During this weeks media day, Duke players did not seem to seek revenge in this match up.  That might surprise some after a 34-20 loss a season ago.  In that game, Duke committed five turnovers and lost to a Virginia team which won a mere two games on the season.

But both teams are different from a year ago and both teams are better.  In his second season, Bronco Mendenhall has his  players playing together.  Kurt Benkert leads the Cavaliers offense with 10 touchdown passes and just a single interception.  Virginia crushed Boise State on their blue field 42-23 and they have proven they can throw the ball against anyone.

The Cavaliers have had a total of 15 days off to prepare for Duke. Meanwhile, Duke played on a short week against Miami while coming off a victory over arch rival North Carolina.  Recent history has gone the Cavaliers way, so Duke needs to reestablish itself against a division foe that has not recruited as well.

For Duke it all starts with a better defense, namely the units front.  Duke needs to pressure Benkert and shut down the Cavalier running game, while the secondary holds their own.  Winning this contest depends on the aforementioned happening.

Duke also needs to get off to a fast start, for the team is not known in recent years as one which plays well from behind.  Daniel Jones will look to get back on track after his team has struggled mightily in the red zone of late.

The Blue Devils will look to once again run the ball which has been the strength of the offense to date.  The combination of Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown is a solid one-two punch and Duke is better when they control the ball.

David Cutcliffe has been spending a lot of time working with all aspects of the special teams.  The punting game or ball placement has lacked punch of late and field goals are still a mild adventure but getting better.

Virginia comes into the game a 2.5 favorite and make no mistake this is a big time ACC match up of major importance for both sides.  This is the kind of game where neither team gives up, so playing from down to down or quarter to quarter is essential.

I think Duke does remember last years homecoming loss.  If the Blue Devils can simply not turn over the ball, they stand a great chance in winning this game.  This will be the first real road game for Duke this season and a bit test for younger players.

Duke comes out with focus and wins.  Duke 31 Virginia 22

Miami Hands Duke Their First Loss

The Duke Blue Devils (4-1) struggled to find the end zone and as a result dropped their first game of the season to Miami 31-6.

After allowing the Hurricanes to take a 14-0 lead on two Malik Rosier touchdown passes in the first quarter - the Blue Devils defense tightened up.

The problem was the offense could not get anything going having drives stalled by the sack, missed passes or penalties.  Duke would get to within 17-6 on two Austin Parker field goals, but then the offense was shut out.

The Blue Devils contained Mark Walton on the ground (59 yards) for much of the game but the Hurricanes found their star back through the air for a team leading 4 catches which went for 79 yards.

Miami finally put the game away on a Roizier to Ahmaman Richards (106 yards on the night) on a 49 yard touchdown pass where they took a 24-6 lead.

The Hurricanes would score another touchdown on a Travis Homer run straight up the gut after a Daniel Jones fumble.  It was just not the Blue Devils night and the team looked desperate at times in the pasisng game.

Duke will take on Virginia next week in Charlottesville hoping to avenge a bad home loss a season ago.  The Blue Devils turned the ball over five times in that homecoming loss.  The Cavaliers are 3-1 and coming off a big win at Boise State.

Miami at Duke Preview

Something has to give when Duke takes on Miami in Wallace Wade Stadium tomorrow evening.  With a game being nationally televised on ESPN both teams will look to give it their best shot for a win which will continue to impress those who follow the programs.

About Miami

Miami has seen a resurgence under second year coach Mark Richt.  Once again, the Hurricanes have that swagger and talent.  There has been a major uptick in recruiting since his arrival and as usual there is an overabundance of team speed.

The Miami offense operates behind a solid offensive front.  That gives starts like quarterback Malik Rosier plenty of time to operate.  And then there is big time running back Mark Walton who is the team's top rusher.  But the dangerous thing about the Miami offense is that if you concentrate on one or two guys, others will burn you.  That is how deep they are with play makers.

The Hurricanes defense is quick and talented, especially in the box up front.  This is the best defensive front Duke will face and they will not hesitate to blitz Daniel Jones all night long.

About Duke

Let's start with the fact that Duke is 4-0 which includes a huge win over their rival a week ago.  The Blue Devils have been solid on defense to date, but Miami will surely test the teams secondary and the teams ability to stop big plays.  Still, if the Duke continues to get contributions up front, they should contend all night long.

The Duke offense has been better this season but is still looking for play makers at the wideout spot.  This has kept some pundits from jumping on the bandwagon despite the teams start.  Duke is still not getting a lot of respect in certain circles, but they have met every challenge to date.

One key for the success this season has been the Blue Devils ability to run the ball.  Duke hopes to iron out special teams issues for one miscue can mean the difference in winning or losing against the best team they've faced to date.

The Bottom Line

Some might ask will Duke face a hangover after their win over North Carolina.  Others may wonder if Miami will be caught looking ahead to their next game with Florida State.  And we most certainly have heard about the last time the two teams met where we all remember the improbable Hurricane win.

I think you can put all that to bed.  Richt did not coach the last time they met on Brooks Field.  Duke has shown an ability to move forward being 4-0 and Miami seems to respect Duke coming into the game, even if their fan base doesn't.

For Duke to win, it will take a mistake free game.  The team must match the big swings that Miami will throw.  When you take on Miami, you have to compete every single play for they can come back from deficits or pad their lead in a fast manner.

Miami can win if they show holes in the Duke offensive front and give Daniel Jones less time to operate.  Their mild weakness to date has been in their secondary, so look for them to send the blitz.  The Hurricanes strength is the Blue Devils weakness.  That would be their ability to score on explosive plays with their team speed.

Sometimes, you just have to  believe.

The pick here is Duke 28 Miami 27


Duke Goes to 4-0 With Win at UNC

Duke goes to 4-0 and owns the Victory Bell after a 27-17 win over North Carolina.

The Duke Blue Devils scored 14 points in the 4th quarter as they defeated arch rival North Carolina 27-17 in Chapel Hill.  The win earned coach David Cutcliffe his 100th win as a college coach.  Make no mistake about it, the Victory Bell remaining in Durham for another year shows how much the program has been.   It is a source of pride for players and coaches alike and helps on the recruiting trail.

The 4-0 Blue Devils took the lead in the 4th quarter on a Shaun Wilson one yard touchdown plunge.  Shortly thereafter, Bryon Fields sealed the game on a 61 yard interception return of a Chazz Surratt pass.  It was the 4th interception for a touchdown by Field in his career.

Duke played an error free game and save a 56 yard Surratt dash, they once again played shut down run defense.  That forced North Carolina to go to the air and in a close game like the one today, it took just one turnover to swing the game.

"A lot of really good things happened on that field," said Cutcliffe and he was right.  This years Duke team is cool under game pressure and they fought until the end earning a hard-fought win.

Duke close the first half on a sour note.  After a botched field goal, North Carolina star of the future Chazz Surrant completed two deep passes to Anthony Ratliff, one for a touchdown.

The Blue Devils had a chance to take a nice lead into the locker room but instead found themselves in a 10-10 deadlock.  But some teams would have allowed that momentum to continue, but Duke did not.

Brittain Brown led Duke is rushing with 92 yards on just 10 carries. Shaun Wilson added 56 yards (102 all-purpose yards) and Daniel Jones 45 yards for 186 net yard rushing.  Wilson has now scored a rushing touchdown in four straight games.

Daniel Jones was at times pressured  but played a mistake free game, throwing for 202 yards and a first half scoring play to tight end Davis Koppenhaver.

Jones biggest pitch besides to touchdown came late in the game to T.J. Rahming (6 catches, 73 yards).  The Blue Devils also went for a 4th and one in their territory in the 3rd quarter which led to a Austin Parker 24 yard field goal.

Duke will have little time to enjoy this victory in that they now face nationally ranked Miami this coming Friday night in a games televised by ESPN.  The Blue Devils have now put themselves in contention for the division crown and a win in this game would get the nation talking.

The Blue Devils have now won 15 of their last 18 games against opponents from the state of North Carolina.  Duke has already matched its total win total from a season ago. Duke has now scored 162 points to date this season which ties the record for the second most in any one season.

In closing, some of the Duke players stopped to ring the ball after the game.  But they did not linger long and most of the guys ran to the locker room with the bell in tow.  Once inside the locker room, you could hear the joy and the bell was indeed in play.

Duke at North Carolina Preview

Bragging rights are on the line as Duke travels to North Carolina in the ACC opener for both teams this season.  A season ago, Duke claimed the Victory Bell with a 28-27 win over the then 16th ranked Tar Heels.  Revenge plays a role in the series and by conventional wisdom North Carolina should be ready for some payback in Chapel Hill.

I have no doubt the Tar Heels will be ready to give Duke their best effort.  But lets not forget that the Blue Devils sought revenge with their last upset win over a Tar Heel team that hung 66 points on their defense the last time the teams met in Chapel Hill.  North Carolina flat-out ran up the score that day for the most points scored by any team in the series.

What does this all mean?  Well, for one you can throw the records out in this game for both teams are 0-0 heading into conference play.  In fact, the last time Duke went to Chapel Hill as the favorite was in 1999 and they lost that game 38-0.  Mercy is rarely shown in this game if a team gets the upper hand.

In fairness, Duke (-2.5) is the slight favorite this weekend, meaning this game is basically considered a toss up in objective circles.  While crazy things have happened when these two teams play, there are very few not expecting a close and high scoring game in that the over/under is 66 points.  And yes, that is how many total points the Tar Heels scored alone the last time in Chapel Hill.

About the Heels

The Tar Heels opened the season with an upset loss to California, but the Bears are now 3-0 and are much better than was anticipated.  They could not control Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson losing to Louisville but they scored a ton of points.  They righted the ship with an impressive win over a decent Old Dominion team last weekend while not being a heavy favorite.

North Carolina has suffered from the injury bug early in the season and their offensive line has been one of the main units which have taken a hit.  The defense is coming together after a coaching change as well.  But nobody is feeling sorry for this bunch in that on paper they have recruited well and have plenty of weapons.

The bottom line is that the Tar Heels can score points and Larry Fedora is known for good reason as a solid offensive coach.  They have now established some momentum and seen things go right against an Old Dominion team on the road.  That makes for a more dangerous bunch and the fact Duke is coming in will have their players as pumped as they can get.

About the Blue Devils

Lets start with the fact that Duke is 3-0.  Few had projected the Blue Devils would be undefeated at this stage to begin the season.  Duke coach David Cutcliffe and his staff has the team in a good place thus far but it is early and people are still wondering how good Duke might be.  The team did show signs of not putting Baylor away a week ago before actually doing so and they cannot leave points on the field to a more solid Tar Heel team this week.

Thankfully the talk on pushing Daniel Jones to the NFL via media hype stopped last week.  Jones showed that he still has a lot to learn but at the same time he has shown himself to be a big time quarterback in the quick Duke start.

The story for Duke has been their defense which is highly ranked after three games.  The team has a much better front but there are still questions in the secondary which could be answered this week. The defensive backs will be tested by a Tar Heel offense that likes to get to the ball and run plays quickly.

Duke has also had success running the ball and we can expect a balanced attack in this game.  The Blue Devils have some guys making plays, namely Shaun Wilson, but they need better route running from their wideouts who need to get into their break.

The Dire Importance of the Game

There will be some haymakers thrown for sure in the game for both teams want to start the ACC Coastal Division season 1-0.  The loser of the game will likely have a hard time recovering.  North Carolina would see their bowl hopes take a hit if they fall to 1-3.  The road gets no easier for Duke with a short turnaround for a Friday game with Miami.  Going into that game 0-1 in the league could dig an early hole in conference play.  The Tar Heels need a win the the biggest of ways to keep momentum going.  The Blue Devils could equal their win total from a season ago with a win and be a step closer to a bowl game.  The biggest thing though, is that his is a key Coastal Division game and both teams still have their eye on the prize to make it to Charlotte in the title game.

What Will Happen

Who is to know?  Cutcliffe worked with his kicking game this week and it could come down to special teams.  A turnover could be disastrous for either team and multiple ones could be sure doom and gloom.

On one hand, we may see a resurgent Heels team roll on offense to a big easy win.  They will continue their momentum after rolling past Old Dominion and reestablish themselves as a team to be reckoned with.

We could see a game so close overtime comes into play. It may come down to a kick or a turnover.

Duke might come out and control the game as they have in previous games and let the nation know they are for real.

I waver back and forth on whether this will actually be as high scoring a game as many think.  Part of me feels it could be a more defensive battle than some think.  On the other hand, everything points to points being scored.

It would be silly to think this game is not very competitive in that both programs are hungry.  If Duke can establish their run game it could bode well provided they do not turn the ball  over a lot.  It will be important for Duke to not let the Tar Heels get a big lead for the Blue Devils historically play better with quick starts under Cutcliffe.

I am picking Duke in this one.  I think they have just enough in the tank to earn Cutcliffe his 100th victory as a coach and continue a resurgent season.  But I think they will sweat this one out as well.

Duke - 34  North Carolina  - 31


Continue reading