Tag Archives: Coach Cut

Duke Football Notebook – Victory over UNC Big on Many Fronts

BDN Photo

The Duke football win over North Carolina was huge on many levels. Of course the team has to move forward, but before they do so, let's take a quick look back.

Wallace Wade was Close to Perfect

What a great crowd on Saturday night in Wallace Wade. Kudos to the Duke students, who created a long missed atmosphere that made the game so enjoyable in a most special way for all the fans. In years past, the UNC faithful have outnumbered Duke fans, even in Duke's own stadium, but not on this night. Every time the UNC crowd would get their chants going, the Duke fans came right back, waving their night glow pom-poms in unison; everyone seemed to sense that this game was more than a bit special. It's been awhile since I have seen this kind of atmosphere, and I was happy to see that the promotions all went off in such an impressive way. It was a solid football atmosphere and a very entertaining game.

No Shortage of Feel Good Moments

No matter which way you turned after the Duke victory, Wallace Wade was engulfed by emotion. I was trying to take in the atmosphere all at once, but my senses got overloaded as Sean Renfree connected on the winning 4th and 2 pass to Jamison Crowder with mere seconds left on the clock to lift Duke to the win. Although Duke fans and players alike erupted in joy, still the anticipation of the full celebration continued to build, as the Tar Heels had to run off two more plays before the game was in the books. As the Tar Heels' desperation plays failed, Duke players made their way towards the North Carolina crowd to grab the Victory Bell, and paint it a darker shade of blue. Other players just looked on, one praying, others just taking it all in as fans rolled over the sides of bleachers, turning the field into utter and glorious chaos. Coach Cutcliffe was drenched by a bucket of Gatorade; just before the ESPN cameras grabbed him, he was rescued from the mob by his North Carolina State Highway Patrolman guard. By this time, as the Bell made its way to the home side, fans had gathered around the team and the Bell like ants at a picnic, a swarm of sweaty and unbridled glee. As the celebration continued, I began to notice all the faces, from basketball players to the Duke Administration. Athletic Director Kevin White and many of the people who have worked hard and been patient as Duke Football has been rebuilt all had looks of sheer satisfaction. And Cutcliffe? He looked like a kid at times, knowing he had secured the biggest win around here in a long time. The win. A win over your rival North Carolina. A win that puts Duke on the map of true, legitimate football programs. A win that makes you bowl-eligible with four games yet to go. A win to remember.

The Look of Happiness

For me, the look on so many players' faces was priceless. So many emotions, so many smiles, so much elation for all of them. It's the happiest I had ever seen Duke quarterback Sean Renfree, and receiver Conner Vernon was right there as well. Vernon was mobbed by fans in a genuine love fest, and he posed for countless photos on the field as the celebration continued. Renfree and Vernon have been through a lot, and as seniors they are seeing the hard work and belief pay off, as Duke is now 6-2.

Bowl Eligible

It's one thing to beat your rival North Carolina and end a long losing streak, and paint the Victory Bell Duke Blue, but the Blue Devils are now bowl-eligible, becoming the third ACC team to attain that status this season. Their last bowl appearance was in 1995. It's a bit early to tell where Duke could be playing, as it is totally dependent upon the on-the-field results the rest of the way.

Special Teams

Don't look now but if Duke freshman kickers Ross Martin and Will Monday keep up their current level of success, both will be named to almost every Freshman All-American team there is. Martin showed off his range with a 42-yard field goal, the longest of his short career, and Monday continues to lead the ACC in punting. It's amazing how consistent the duo has been to date, especially in the eyes of fans who had in seasons past become accustomed to deflating misses or shanks. Make no mistake, the kicking game is now a strength at Duke.


Ask any coach and he'll tell you that recruiting is the lifeblood of any program. Coach Cutcliffe commented going into the game that Duke had closed the talent gap a bit on the Tar Heels, and his proclamation sure looked accurate after the Blue Devils' 33-30 win. Several prospects attended the game and witnessed a great win for Duke, and many of them will surely come away impressed by the strides that the program has made. When Cutcliffe and company came to Durham, they realized the importance of in-state recruiting, and they started to go head-to-head with the Tar Heels on the trail, and began to win some battles. That strategy is now paying off. Without a doubt, certain Blue Devils who hail from North Carolina, were extra pumped up. A win like this can go a long way on the recruiting trail, and as they build on their success on the field, the Blue Devils will continue to get their foot in the door more and more with stellar prospects, and more often kick that door in.

No Doubt

There is no more doubt about the fact that Duke Football is headed in the right direction under David Cutcliffe, and this signature win for the program will pay off in more ways than one.  There have been no shortcuts taken under Coach Cut in implementing his blueprint for rebuilding Duke Football.  Instead, he is winning with disciplined, true student-athletes. You can be more than just a little proud of these kids too, for they have true character as individuals, and are a genuinely good bunch of young men.

A Win for All

In the end, this was more than just a program win. This was a win for all. This was a win for the fans, the players and the administration, and it is one that has all involved on Cloud Nine as we head into the new week. It was quite simply the biggest win in the Coach Cutcliffe era, and it was the kind of win where we all can feel that the growing pains are starting to subside, and instead of talking about problem areas we are now talking about strengths.


Sean Renfree, Jamison Crowder and Perry Simmons were all named ACC Players of the Week.

Clemson Game Prime Time

Duke will play Clemson at home in two weeks on ESPN at 7:00.  Tickets are still available at GoDuke.com, so be sure to secure yours now and support the bowl bound Blue Devils.

BDN Monday Musings – Huge week ahead for Duke Athletics


Countdown to Craziness will be electric when Countdown to Craziness kicks off this Friday. Be there!

After a long hiatus, BDN's Monday Musings returns, and there is a lot to talk about with respect to Duke Athletics. To say this is a big week is an understatement. Duke Basketball will hold its annual Countdown to Craziness on Friday evening followed the next night by a prime time football game with archrival North Carolina, where a win would snap a long losing streak in the series and gain the Blue Devils bowl eligibility.

Basketball season is here!

The mens basketball team has started practice, and that always means excitement in the air among Duke fans. Coach Mike Krzyzewski seems as pumped up as ever as he enters the season with a record 927 wins, and he will close in on other marks as the year progresses. His teams have been ranked in the AP Top 10 a total of 425 weeks, and this year's first poll should make it 426. The Blue Devils return 10 letter-winners from a year ago, so there is experience on hand, and the team has received an infusion of talent with the additions of redshirt freshmen Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee, who join true freshmen Amile Jefferson and Rasheed Sulaiman.

A couple of early injuries

As you may have heard, Marshall Plumlee is in a walking boot with a foot fracture, but the prognosis is unknown at this time.  Seth Curry is nursing a minor injury as well, and is close to being able to go 100%. Most football programs are mildly evasive in providing news on injuries these days, and basketball is becoming no different.

Early high praise for Mason Plumlee

Blue Devils fans needed a shot in the arm at the end of last season after the upset loss to Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament and the departure of Austin Rivers, who entered the NBA Draft after his freshman campaign. They got that lift when Mason Plumlee spurned the league for another year to return for his senior season at Duke. Plumlee has earned high praise early on from Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has made no secret that he expects big things from the multi-talented big man. Expect a larger role for Plumlee this year, and look for the Blue Devils to establish his game early on.

Who will run the point?

Actually, it is still likely to be done by committee. Many hope Quinn Cook steps up in his second year and takes over the role, but he will share time with Tyler Thornton, Rasheed Sulaimon and maybe even Seth Curry. Cook improved leaps and bounds in the off-season and his confidence and game are where they were when I first saw him on the AAU trail in his junior season in high school. Thornton has improved his quickness, and he is a calming influence on the team with his cool play. Sulaimon has the ability to be the best on-ball defender from the guard spot, and Curry has run the position before and if necessary can do so again. But in the end, Blue Devil fans will look for Quinn Cook to earn the major minutes.  Only time will tell if that happens.

Countdown to Craziness

This is one of the more fun events of the year, where the Blue Devils let their hair down for the last time before getting dead serious and focusing on the season, where early challenges against tough opponents abound. Countdown to Craziness is a celebration of Duke Basketball, where the team comes out to their song of choice during a raucous introduction and comedic skits are seen via video on the scoreboard. Then there is the Blue/White intrasquad game, giving fans a chance to see some action. It's a great event and one BDN will cover as always, so check back in for coverage. Tickets are still available at reasonable prices at GoDuke.com.

North Carolina at Duke

Both teams come into this weekend's prime time football game with 5-2 records, including 2-1 conference marks, but the Tar Heels have owned the series of late, and they opened as a 10 point favorite in this one. For the Blue Devils program, nothing would be finer than to see Carolina finally go down, and if the goal posts did not follow, there would be disappointment. A win for Duke would not only snap the long light blue winning streak, but it would also mean Duke is going bowling. Yeah, it's a big one, but tickets are still available for it, so why not make a Duke weekend of it by having a blast at Countdown to Craziness and then coming back the next night for some serious -- and meaningful -- football?

Can Duke Football bounce back?

After holding a 20-0 lead over Virginia Tech this past weekend, the team simply collapsed, allowing 41 consecutive points to a team which handled this week's opponent (North Carolina) with ease. The main concern I have is that the team almost seemed to mail it in once adversity struck, and could never find its way back. There have been times this season where I think the Duke team is better than the players realize; they need to believe they can win and deserve to win some ACC football games. Coach Cut has done a terrific job in rebuilding, but there are still important lessons to be learned, and patience is needed.

Duke Hoops in Fort Bragg

The Duke Men's Basketball team is practicing at Fort Bragg today.  You can tune into ESPNU at 1:00 to see the practice.

BDN Monday Musings – Are you ready for some football?

It's time to kickoff the 2012 Duke Football season this week, and Monday Musings hopes to see you in the stands at Wallace Wade on Saturday.

Injury-plagued Blue Devils face test up front in opener

The Duke Blue Devils will kickoff the 2012 football season this Saturday when they take on a very solid Florida International Panthers team in Wallace Wade Stadium. While the team has improved in many areas under Coach David Cutcliffe, injuries leading up to the game have been unsettling. As of today, the Blue Devils will be without several key projected starters, including receiver Blair Holliday, linebacker Kelby Brown, tight end Braxton Deaver, safety Jordan Byas and defensive lineman Jamal Bruce. They may also be without linebacker David Helton, who is listed as day-to-day. What this all adds up to for Duke is a serious lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball.  This could really matter in this game as the Devils go up against a team that will push the tempo under new offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey.  Cramsey's "pedal to the metal" approach will force Duke to go to many unseasoned backups as the game progresses and the front line guys start to wear down.

While the defense will have its hands full preventing big plays, an area that Duke clearly needs to improve upon over last season's performance, the offense faces a stiff challenge as well. The Panthers' defensive front is solid and very deep, so all eyes will be on an improved Duke offensive front, and whether it can give senior quarterback Sean Renfree enough time to work with a bevy of new and unproven wideouts.  Duke did move senior Desmond Scott from running back to wide receiver, and he is capable of making big plays once he gets the ball in his hands.  But until a strong second receiving option steps up, you can bet  that All-ACC wideout Conner Vernon will see nothing but double teams, and it will be tough to get him the ball.

The Scott move may seem odd, as he is the last Duke player to rush for 100 yards in a game.  But this could be indicative of Duke's depth and talent at the running back position, where the Blue Devils have two veterans in Juwon Thompson and Josh Snead and two talented newcomers in Jela Duncan and Sheldon Bell.

So when the ball kicks off around 7:00 this Saturday night to open the season, watch the battle in the trenches where the game could be won.  Click here for more on FIU depth on their Defensive Front.

Interviews with Duke Prospects on the way

We'll start to roll out interviews from the Under Armor Elite 24 this afternoon, starting with Duke Basketball recruiting prospect Austin Nichols followed by 2014 stud PG Tyus Jones.  There are lots of happenings with hoops recruiting, so join BDN Premium for full site access and don't miss any of it.

Bowling ...

Let's face it, we all want to see the Duke football team bowl eligible and ESPN's Heather Dinich has the Blue Devils playing in the Military Bowl.  The Blue Devils face a very tough schedule this season, so that is some serious optimism for Coach Cut and company.  So are any of you  starting to realize how much pressure there is for Duke to win its opener?

Good turnout needed for Duke

It's Duke Employee Day at Duke for the home opener against Florida International and the Blue Devils will need solid fan support to defeat a team coming off two straight bowl seasons.  Let's have a great turnout where the home crowd helps lift the team to victory.  It has all the makings of being a very tense and competitive game, so don't miss it.


Duke at UNC Game Notes – GTHC!

Stadium: Kenan Stadium
Surface: Natural Grass
Capacity: 60,000
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network; Sirius XM Radio (Channels 94 & 193)
TV: RSN - Rich Waltz (Play-by-play), Keith Jones (Analyst) and Jenn Hildreth (Sideline)
Internet: GoDuke.com; theACC.com
Tickets: 1-877-375-DUKE
Series: North Carolina leads, 57-36-4
Last Time: North Carolina amassed 519 yards of total offense and held off a late Duke rally to post a 24-19 win over the Blue Devils in Durham. QBs T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree threw for 264 and 242 yards, respectively.

Duke Closes 2011 at North Carolina
• The Blue Devils will close out the 2011 schedule this week by travelling to face rival North Carolina.
• Duke is 3-8 overall and 1-6 in ACC play following its 38-31 loss to Georgia Tech last week. The Tar Heels stand at 6-5 overall and 2-5 in league play after losing to Virginia Tech, 24-21, last Thursday.
• Saturday’s game will mark the 98th on the gridiron between the two schools, with North Carolina holding a 57-36-4 all-time series advantage.
• The Tar Heels have won seven straight and 20 of the past 21 meetings including last year’s 24-19 decision in Durham.

Victory Bell
• The battle for the Victory Bell began in 1948 with North Carolina earning possession with a 20-0 win in Chapel Hill. Duke head cheerleader Loring Jones and North Carolina head cheerleader Norman Spear decided on the idea of the Victory Bell.
• Jones designed the model while Spear obtained a bell from an old railroad train. Red Lewis, Duke’s business manager for athletics, agreed to find money in the budget to pay for the bell.

Record Book Watch
• With one and four pass receptions respectively, WRs Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon will become just the sixth and seventh players in ACC history with 200 career catches. The current group includes Clemson’s Aaron Kelly (232), Wake Forest’s Desmond Clark (216), Virginia’s Billy McMullen (210), Florida State’s Peter Warrick (207) and N.C. State’s Jerricho Cotchery (200).
• With 53 catches in 2011, Varner is seven receptions away from becoming the first player in ACC history to post three seasons with 60+ grabs. He is one of 13 players in league history with two campaigns with 60+ catches, a list that includes teammate Vernon.
• With 68 catches on the year, Vernon is six grabs shy of the Duke single-season record of 74 set by Wes Chesson in 1970. Vernon fell one reception short of the standard last season with 73 catches.
• With a nine-reception outing last week versus Georgia Tech, Vernon matched the school’s single-season record for most games with 5+ catches with nine. Vernon, who also had nine games with five of more catches last year, shares the standard with Chesson (1970) and Roger Boone (1987).
• With 2,738 passing yards this season, QB Sean Renfree is 262 yards shy of reaching 3,000 for the season. Renfree topped the 3,000-yard barrier last year (3,131) to join Ben Bennett (1982-83), Anthony Dilweg (1988) and Thaddeus Lewis (2009) as Blue Devils to accomplish the feat at least once.
• Having completed 65.0 percent (269-of-414) of his pass attempts through 11 games, Renfree is on pace to break the school’s single-season record for pass completion percentage, a mark currently held by Bennett (.640 [300-of-469] in 1983).
• With 14 pass breakups this fall, S Matt Daniels is one PBU shy of matching the Duke single-season record of 15 set by Erwin Sampson in 1989.
• Duke has 19 rushing touchdowns through 11 games this season — matching last year’s total for the most since 1994 (21). Sophomore RB Juwan Thompson has seven rushing scores — the highest total by a Duke running back since 2005 when Justin Boyle scored nine times on the ground.

FSU, Manuel too much for Duke – Game Briefs

Coming into the game, I stated that if Duke went down two touchdowns early, that it would prove to be a long day.  As it turns put Florida State came out of the gate on fire and that allowed them a 17-3 1st quarter lead and that pretty much sealed the game.  Another 10 points in the 2nd quarter boosted the Noles lead to 27-3 and Duke went into half time with just 5 first downs.


Too much EJ Manuel

Manuel was throwing darts to his speedy wideouts and and the Duke secondary seemed a step slow to the ball all day long.  When the dust cleared, Manuel did a pretty good Cam Newton impersonation, going 9-14 through the air for 239 yards and two touchdowns.  He ran for another 81 yards and a score as well.  The Duke defense had no answer for his versatile style.

Tough stopping the run

Florida State rolled up 242 yards rushing for a 5.4 average per carry.  Too many big plays on offense doomed the Blue Devils chances of an upset bid.  Devonta Freeman led the Noles with 109 yards and a score.

Duke played better in the second half

Once the Blue Devils settled down, they played Florida State even,  The offense which struggled to five first downs in the first hald, doubled that with ten in the second half.  Juwan Thompson scored on a 1 yard run while Sean Renfree hit Cooper Helfet for a 5 yard score.

Desmond Scott looked good on his return

Duke junior Desmond Scott rushed for 66 yards for a 6.6 yard per carry average and played major minutes as the starter.  However, he did make a critical fumble which stalled a drive.  Scott broke off the longest run from scrimmage of the day on both sides when he scampered 34 yards down the Duke sideline.

Kicking game graded well too

Will Snyderwine booted a 38 yard fied goal and everybody was happy to see that after some early seaon misses.  Punter Alex King averaged 53.2 yards per kick with a long of 60 yards.

With Donovan Varner injured, Cut wants youth to step up

We don't know how serious the injury is to Donovan Varner is but Coach Cutcliffe said in the post game that he needed Blair Holliday and Jamison Crowder to step up from this game forward.  The two young wideouts combined for two catches for a mere 10 yards.

Still no breakthrough win

The Blue Devil still seek their first win under Cutcliffe against a traditional ACC power, but they have a chance to beat a Wake Forest team next week that has owned them for a decade.  "We'll be ready next week, I'll guarantee you that," said Cutcliffe.

Embarrassing student turnout

Who sent the memo that the game was canceled?  The worst student turnout of the year happened this past weekend and that with Duke riding a three game winning streak.  Hopefully, they will make it over for the Wake Forest game.