Category Archives: Duke Football

Coach Cutcliffe takes in Duke's first 2016 practice

Duke, Sirk opened 2016 practice Monday

DURHAM - Coming off a thrilling 2015 Pinstripe Bowl victory, Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke Blue Devils kicked off the 2016 preseason on Monday evening.

QB Thomas Sirk was able to participate in the opening practice session despite suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon earlier this year. Sirk headlines just 10 returning starters for the Blue Devils, who will open their 2016 campaign in the newly-renovated Wallace Wade Stadium on September 3.

Monday's practice was the first official work for a number of new Blue Devils, including highly touted recruits WR Scott Bracey and S Dylan Singleton.

Preseason Photo Gallery

Coach Cutcliffe remarked on his quarterback's remarkable recovery, his team's maturity, and other highlights after practice. Duke will practice in pads for the first time on Saturday.


Duke Implements New Security for FB

Cn52fKnXgAAlz8FDURHAM, N.C. – In an effort to increase safety and security of campus visitors, fans attending Duke football games this season will take part in new security measures that include metal detectors, a no-bag policy and no stadium re-entry once a fan has exited the gates of Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium.

The new measures will be in place for all of Duke football’s home games starting with theSept. 3 contest against N.C. Central University.

The security enhancements are being made as other universities and professional sports teams around the country institute similar policies and steps to create safer environments at sporting events. Duke Athletics originally rolled out use of metal detectors at the end of 2015 for basketball games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“These extra precautions are quickly becoming a necessary trend at large sporting events,” said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration and Duke’s emergency coordinator. “We appreciate the patience and participation of all those who come out to the games to help us provide the safest possible environment.”

Due to the new security efforts, Duke Athletics encourages all fans to come to Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium as early as possible. Administrators estimate that it will take approximately 60 minutes to screen a maximum capacity crowd of about 40,000 using all available metal detectors at four gate locations.

“These enhanced security measures are essential as Duke constantly strives to provide the safest possible environment for all event attendees,” said vice president and director of athletics Kevin White. “Our rollout of similar policies and procedures at Cameron Indoor Stadium last season was extremely well-received and we expect the same at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium this fall. It is our commitment to provide everyone with a first-class, safe experience.”

All persons – game day staff, ticketed guests and Duke undergraduate and graduate students – will be screened before entering the stadium. For guests who can’t use a walk-through metal detector, hand-held metal detectors will be used with physical pat-downs as a final alternative option. Any person who does not consent to screening will be denied stadium entry.

The following includes more details on Duke’s new measures:

Metal Detector Screening

Before passing through metal detectors, guests will be asked to remove cell phones, large key rings, cameras, wristlets/clutches and any large metal objects from their pockets and place them in a provided container for inspection. Guests do not need to remove jackets, belts, coins, wallets, watches, jewelry or shoes. A full list of permitted and prohibited items can be found here.

If a walk-through metal detector finds the presence of items that require further inspection, visitors will be asked to step aside and undergo secondary screening with a hand-held metal detector or physical pat-down.

Accommodations will be made in certain situations for children, items of religious and cultural significance and guests with disabilities or medical devices.

For full details, see the see the "Football Game Day Entry Screening Policy" section on

Bag Policy

To increase security in a large crowd setting and provide a better entry and game experience for all guests, no bags or purses of any kind will be allowed to enter the stadium on game days with the following exceptions:

 -- Wristlets/clutches (with or without a strap) that fit in the palm of the hand (no larger 5 inches x 8 inches x 1 inch).

 -- Duke Stores merchandise bags with receipt for purchase, with restrictions on stadium prohibited items.

 -- Bags for medical and/or childcare needs.

 -- Bags for credentialed game day staff.Guests with wristlets/clutches may use any lane in the screening area and place the item in a provided bin for inspection.

Ticketed guests entering with Duke Stores merchandise bags and bags for medical and/or childcare needs must use designated a medical/family lane located at each gate screening area. The lanes will be located to far right of the Bostock Gate (north entry) and Powers Gate (west entry) and the far left of the Wilson Gate (east entry) and Finch-Yeager Bridge (Blue Devil Tower entry). Bags will be searched and tagged for entry into the stadium.


Cutcliffe talks Duke Football with media

David Cutcliffe is a Fit at Duke

cutIt doesn't seem like David Cutcliffe has been at Duke for nine years, but in one of his opening statements during ACC Kickoff, he reminds us of that.  He mentioned that along with Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, that the two were the elder coaches in the league.

When Cutcliffe inherited the reigns at Duke, the Blue Devil program was nothing more than a doormat.  He immediately gave fans something they haven't had in a long time.  In his first season Duke went 4-8 against the second toughest schedule in the country. While four wins might seem paltry in hindsight, one must note that it had been a decade since Duke had won near that many.

There were to be a few more years of rebuilding the program to where it is today.  Having covered Duke throughout the journey has been interesting for me.  There was a time when many in the fan base coveted things like wins and bowl games.  Many wondered if they would see either before their life was to end.  I was one of those people.

Make no mistake, the steps it took to get to where the program is coming off four consecutive bowl games was at times methodical.  It was easier for Duke fans to grant the rebuilding process patience in that winning would be something new.

What Cutcliffe has done is devise his own system.   It's not always perfect but he is known for being one of the best coaches in the nation for good reason.  His system promotes character and his staff teaches what it preaches.

When prospects come to visit Duke and their ever improving facilities most will point to one thing.  The word family is always mentioned to those who find a fit.  That fit is also important to the staff in that they know what it takes for players to mesh with what they're doing.

In a sense, Cutcliffe took out a page from Mike Krzyzewski's notebook.  He did so with developing a family atmosphere and going after kids with high character.  Even as I type, Duke has already zeroed in on and gained 20 football commitments for the future and are ranked 18th in the country per ESPN.

The bottom line is that prospects want to play for Duke,  They have seen that you can compete on the field and in the classroom.  They have seen that the staff is honest and genuine and that they will develop them as a players, student athletes and men.

Everything is coming full circle for the program.  While there is sure to be more growing pains, the foundation has been set.  With much improved facilities and playing in a conference that is improving every year -- the future is bright.

Duke scored big with the hiring of David Cutcliffe.  And in Durham on Brooks Field and in Wallace Wade Stadium, he has found his final home.   It is quite simply the perfect paring.

As for the aforementioned long time fans of the program who suffered along with teams past.  Well, the wait for a winning program seems worth it,  As for me mentioning that it doesn't seem like Cutcliffe has been at Duke that long ... time flies when things are going well.

Next up - Cutcliffe talks Duke Football for the 2016-17 season.


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Duke Tabbed 5th in Coastal Division

16-672x372 (1)Clemson Leads ACC Football Kickoff Preseason Poll

North Carolina selected to repeat as Coastal Division winner;

Tigers’ Deshaun Watson tabbed to repeat as Player of the Year


GREENSBORO, N.C. ( – Clemson is the preseason favorite to repeat as  Atlantic Coast Conference football champion, according to a poll of  191 media members in attendance at last week’s 2016 ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte.


The Tigers, who posted a 14-1 overall record last season and reached the College Football Playoff national title game, are also picked to again capture the Atlantic Division, while North Carolina is favored to repeat as the Coastal Division winner.


Clemson junior quarterback Deshaun Watson was the overwhelming choice to repeat as ACC Player of the Year after his record-setting 2015 campaign. Watson was also the media’s preseason selection as conference player of the year last season.


The Tigers were picked the likely 2016 ACC champions on 144 ballots, followed by Florida State with 39 votes and North Carolina with seven. One voter chose Louisville.


In the Atlantic Division preseason voting, Clemson received 148 first-place votes and finished with 1,293 total points. Florida State received 42 first-place votes and placed second with 1,176 points, while Louisville had one first-place vote and was third in the voting with 961 points.


NC State (704 total points) was tabbed for a fourth-place Atlantic Division finish, followed by Boston College (441), Syracuse (426) and Wake Forest (347).


North Carolina was selected the likely Coastal winner by 121 voters and finished with 1,238 total points, followed by Miami with 50 first-place votes and 1,108 points. Pitt received 14 first-place votes and was third in the balloting with 859 points.


Virginia Tech (three first-place votes) placed fourth with 697 points, followed by Duke (597), Georgia Tech (588) and Virginia (261). Two voters chose Duke to claim the Coastal Division, while one gave Georgia Tech the nod.


If the overall prediction of the voters proves correct, the 2016 ACC Dr Pepper Football Championship on December 3 at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium will be a rematch of last year’s event. Clemson defeated North Carolina 45-37 for the 2015 ACC title after both teams posted 8-0 records in conference play during the regular season.


Watson will lead a Clemson offense that also returns talented running back Wayne Gallman, leading receiver Artavis Scott, and steady offensive linemen Jay Guillermo, Mitch Hyatt and Tyrone Crowder. Linebacker Ben Boulware leads a group of five returning defensive starters. The Tigers, who have won at least 10 games each of the past five seasons, will seek their 16th ACC championship in 2016.


Watson led the preseason ACC Player of the Year balloting with 164 votes, followed by Florida State running back Dalvin Cook with 18. North Carolina running back Elijah Hood received four votes, while Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson picked up two votes apiece. Duke cornerback/return specialist DeVon Edwards received one vote.


Watson captured both the Davey O’Brien and Manning Awards as the nation’s top quarterback in 2015 after throwing for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for 1,105 yards and 12 more TDs. The Gainesville, Georgia, native became the first player in FBS history to amass 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season.


The ACC Male Athlete of the Year and the MVP of both the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game and the Capital One Orange Bowl, Watson ranked fifth nationally in pass completion percentage (67.8) and was voted the ACC Offensive Back of the Week four times in 2015. Watson is bidding to become the first student-athlete to be named ACC Football Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons since Florida State’s Charlie Ward in 1992-93.


ACC Championship Votes

  1. Clemson - 144
  2. Florida State - 39
  3. North Carolina - 7
  4. Louisville - 1


Atlantic Division

(First place votes in parenthesis)                       

  1. Clemson (148) – 1,293
  2. Florida State (42) – 1,176
  3. Louisville (1) - 961
  4. NC State - 704
  5. Boston College - 441
  6. Syracuse  - 426
  7. Wake Forest - 347


Coastal Division

(First place votes in parenthesis)                       

  1. North Carolina (121) – 1,238
  2. Miami (50) – 1,108
  3. Pitt (14) - 859
  4. Virginia Tech (3) - 697
  5. Duke (2) - 597
  6. Georgia Tech (1) -588
  7. Virginia -261


ACC Player of the Year

  1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson - 164
  2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State - 18
  3. Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina - 4

t-4. Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami - 2

t-4. Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville - 2

  1. DeVon Edwards, CB/KR, Duke - 1

ACC Digital Network to Launch 2019

ACC+KickoffESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference will launch the ACC Network – a comprehensive linear and digital network, it was announced today by ACC Commissioner John Swofford and ESPN President John Skipper at the conference’s annual Football Kickoff media event in Charlotte, N.C. The 20-year partnership will provide ACC fans unprecedented access to live events via a comprehensive, multi-platform network. It also provides for the extension of the conference’s existing rights agreement with ESPN to 2036. ESPN is the ACC’s exclusive worldwide rights holder.
Beginning in August 2016, fans can access more than 600 exclusive live events from across the conference via a digital live-events channel ‘ACC Network Extra’, immediately available to users who have access to ESPN3 via WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with that number growing each year.  More than 1,300 ACC events will be distributed across the platforms in 2019 when the linear network launches. 
Linear Network Programming
The linear network will feature 450 exclusive live events including 40 regular-season football games, more than 150 men’s and women’s basketball games, more than 200 other regular-season contests and tournament games from across the conference’s 27-sponsored sports, plus a complement of news and information shows and original programming. ESPN has been televising ACC content since 1979 and has exclusive rights to every conference-controlled football and men’s basketball game, plus women’s basketball and conference sports matchups, as well as all ACC championship events.
“We look forward to working with our longtime partners at the ACC to create a network that reflects the depth and quality of its athletes and teams, and serves the fans who passionately support them. We are proud and excited to add the ACC Network to our industry-leading college content offerings,” said John Skipper, ESPN President.
“On behalf of the ACC Council of Presidents, Faculty Athletics Representatives and our ACC Television Committee, we are tremendously pleased to further enhance our long-term partnership with ESPN that includes the creation of the ACC Network and ACC Network Extra, and positions the conference for the long-term future,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “This partnership continues to be a win-win for ESPN and the ACC. ESPN is the premier provider in sports content and this agreement will deliver unprecedented coverage to our fans, while highlighting our quality student-athletes, coaches and institutions.”
Additional details about the network will be announced in the coming months.
About ESPN, Inc.
ESPN is the only network to have rights agreements with 29 NCAA Division I conferences including long-term rights deals with each of the Power 5 conferences, the NCAA and the College Football Playoff. ESPN, Inc., is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of more than 50 multimedia sports assets. The company comprises eight U.S. 24-hour television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, Longhorn Network and SEC Network). Other businesses include ESPN EventsESPN International (24 networks, syndication, radio, digital), ESPN Radio (broadcast, satellite, digital), digital services ( plus a variety of sport-, college-, and market-specific sites; multi-screen WatchESPN and ESPN3; plus mobile TV and video, apps, alerts and messaging), ESPN The Magazine and consumer products. Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
About the ACC
The Atlantic Coast Conference, now in its 64th year of competition and 15 members strong, has long enjoyed the reputation as one of the strongest and most competitive intercollegiate conferences in the nation. ACC members Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Pitt, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest continue to build upon the cornerstones on which the league was founded in 1953 with a consistent balance of academics, athletics and integrity. The ACC currently sponsors 27 NCAA sports – 14 for women and 13 for men – with member institutions located in 10 states. For more information, visit and follow @theACC on Twitter and on Facebook (

Challenging Schedule for Duke Football

DSC_0168-001Duke Football is riding the momentum of four consecutive bowl game appearances under Coach David Cutcliffe.  This will be the season when the Blue Devils show off a new press box as well but complete stadium renovations are likely another year away.  Duke has continued program momentum, where they even had perhaps their best recruiting class in the Cutcliffe era to date.  During the off-season, Cutcliffe told the media that they were going to start demanding more from their staff and players.  If the Blue Devils are going to take another step or to once again remain bowl eligible this season, they will do so against a very challenging slate.  There are no more dual patsies on the schedule where Duke now will face two major conference foes for the first time in years.  Notre Dame replaces the likes of Troy and Northwestern remains and a season from now, Duke will begin a home and home with Baylor.  Personally, I feel if Duke can manage a 7-5 or better record against this years schedule, they should reserve the Coach of the Year trophy,  I break down the slate here with some thoughts -

Sure Wins - NCCU, Army

Nobody likes to count wins as a sure thing and the staff doesn't like to see such things in print, but if Duke loses to North Carolina Central in the opener or Army, then they are in for one long season. The Eagles are there as  warm up game which is good for the Durham Community and Army is simply the second easiest game on this years slate.  A side note is that the Cadets are on their way to playing  better football and return a lot of players from a season ago. In the past Duke could count two more games considered sure wins.

Most Important Game - Wake Forest

I know this will surprise some folks, but the most important game for Duke is their second game of the season against rival Wake Forest. In the Athlon pre season publication, the Deacons are picked to be one of the five most improved teams in the nation.  The reason the Deacons will be good is that they return 15 starters which is the second most in the ACC and a season ago, Duke squeaked out a 27-21 win.  The Deacs held Clemson to 33 points last year and lost to Florida State by 8 and Louisville by 1.  Trust me when I say, this is going to be quite the early season game and Duke desperately needs a victory here in their first ACC contest to have a legitimate chance of making it to another bowl.  As I reveal the rest of the schedule, you will see why.

Must Win Game - Virginia

The wheels came off for Duke Football a season ago after the blown call against Miami.  Duke went on a four game slide ending with a 42-34 loss to Virginia where the team came out flat as a pancake before playing better in the second half.  If Duke wants to get to the six win mark and go to a bowl, then they have to take out their revenge at home on the Cavaliers who will feature a new coach in Bronco Mildenhall who takes hold of the reigns after building the BYU program in Provo, Utah.  This means Duke will be facing a team with a new scheme which adds to the challenge.

The Four Toughest Games - UNC, at Notre Dame, at Louisville,

Those who attended or watched the UNC game a season ago were shell-shocked after the Tar Heels offense rang up 66 points.  The bad news is that there offense will be every bit as good and they'll perhaps have a better passing quarterback in Mitch Trubisky.  He will throw to a ridiculously talented group of wide outs and they will have a running game to boot.  The Heels can flat-out score against anyone, anywhere.

Duke will travel to South Bend this year to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Okay, nuff said, but if you need more worry, they have two quarterbacks who can get it done and are in every pre season poll out there with the aforementioned UNC and the next team I will speak of.

That team would be the Louisville Cardinals.  Some say this program still remembers Duke getting out of a scheduled game a few years ago and will have their ears pinned back.  Some how, some way, they talked three NFL players to be into coming back on what will be a talented defense.  Trust me, this team with a solid quarterback in place now could derail Clemson or Florida State hopes.  Duke will have their work cut out for them on a Friday night kickoff in Papa Johns Stadium.  It is also worth noting that Louisville has a bye week before Duke visits and will already have played Clemson and Florida State.

Almost as Tough - at Northwestern  at Pitt, at Miami

The week after the Wake game and the week before the trip to South Bend, Duke must travel to Northwestern.  You may remember that the Wildcats went 10-3 a season ago and beat Duke 19-10 in Durham.  Well, they are still good and will look to throw the ball more and have 12 starters back.

So, Pitt gets the news that behemoth running back James Conner will return to the field.  To make matters worse for opponents, they already have a talented back in Dadree Ollison.  A conference best 16 starters are back for Pitt.

Miami will welcome new coach Mark Richt and that means a new system to prep for.  They have 9 starter on offense and 7 on defense back and the 3rd best recruiting class in the league.  This is the last game of the season and they not want this game to come down to a call like it did a season ago.

Measuring Stick Games - Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech

Virginia Tech will go to a spread offense head man Justin Fuente and they also return Bud Foster to the defensive side of the ball.  Duke won  a shoot out a season ago and the Hokies will want some pay back with 14 starters back.  This game will tell fans a lot about the Blue Devils team.

Duke fans love beating Georgia Tech and Paul Johnson.  Thanks to Johnson turning down Duke, David Cutliffe was able to prove himself and do his thing.  This is a bitter match up and one the Blue Devils will almost certainly have to win to make it to a bowl.  The game will be in Atlanta and the coach Cutcliffe replaced in Ted Roof still runs the Jackets defense and will likely pay extra close attention to this match up.  Both teams have a bye week going in this key game.

Here are the top three best units Duke will face this season -

QB's - Notre Dame, Miami, Louisville and UNC-tied

RB's - Pitt, UNC, Notre Dame

WR/TE's - UNC, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame-tied

OL's- UNC, Pitt, Notre Dame

DL's - Pitt, Notre Dame, Louisville and Northwestern-tied

LB's - Louisville, Northwestern, Miami

DB's - Louisville, UNC, Virginia Tech

Duke will have to answer the bell early and often in a season where their has been more off season change than any other during the Cutcliffe era.  Staff changes, coupled with some untimely injuries may well make this a but of a rebuilding season.  We'll know more about Duke after their match up with Wake Forest and whether this team can continue it's all time best bowl appearances streak.