Tag Archives: Coach Cutcliffe


Football Friday: Wide Receiver Competition

DSC_0050-001Duke's primary offensive formation features a single running back, a tight end and three wide receivers. Max McCaffrey is the lone returning starter at the wide receiver position resulting in two open starting slots.

A balanced offensive attack has been key to Duke's success over the past several seasons. In 2014, the Blue Devils scored 47 touchdowns from scrimmage with 23 coming through the air and 24 on the ground. On plays from scrimmage, Duke passed the ball 49 percent and ran 51 percent of the time. Duke gained 2,814 yards through the air, while rushing for 2,364.

While an increased emphasis on the running game is expected in 2015, maintaining offensive balance via the passing game will be a prime objective for Head Coach David Cutcliffe and Offensive Coordinator Scottie Montgomery. When the running game is clicking, the play action pass becomes a valuable weapon.

Max McCaffrey has 65 career receptions for 698 yards and seven touchdowns. He is a sure handed receiver capable of working in minimum space over the middle of the field. McCaffrey recorded a career best seven receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns in Duke's 41-3 victory over Kansas. He has started 25 games over his first three seasons as a Blue Devil.

The receiving corps will be young so McCaffrey leveraging his experience to provide on field and locker room leadership will be vital to ensuring the receivers maximize their productivity.

Johnell Barnes' bio at GoDuke.com lists him as a starting wide receiver and he is the odds on favorite to be a top receiver in 2015. Barnes has shown flashes of brilliance over his first two years so a break out season as a junior would not be a surprise. Barnes is a strong runner who can gain significant yards after catching the ball.

As a true freshman, in 2013, Barnes averages 14.5 yards per reception with a long of 50 yards. His yards per reception decreased to 10.3 during the 2014 season, but his total number of catches increased. Barnes has caught 38 passes for 454 yards and one touchdown over the first two seasons of his career.

Chris Taylor is a redshirt freshmen who has impressed the staff since his arrival on campus prior to the 2014 season. His bio at GoDuke.com lists him as a starting wide receiver. Taylor has good size at 6'1" with all reports leaking out of practice indicating he is an excellent route runner who possesses all the requisite physical skills to develop into a special player.

When practice opens in August; McCaffrey, Barnes and Taylor will be designated as the starters. Will they be the starters in New Orleans on September 3? The question this article seeks to explore: who steps up and challenges for one of those starting spots?

Here are the candidates wide receivers coach Jeffrey Farris has to work with:

Anthony Nash is 6'5" and fast. Those are tremendous physical skill sets, which set him up to compete to become an impact player. He is currently listed as a second string wide receiver. Nash, a rising redshirt junior, has caught five passes for 47 yards in 16 career games. He has the tools to be a deep threat, which can stretch defenses vertically, if he can take the next developmental step. Nash is definitely a player to keep an eye on in 2015.

Trevon Lee is a highly thought of redshirt freshman currently listed as a second string wide receiver. He was considered a leading candidate to play as a true freshmen last season but remained on the sidelines due to Duke being deep and talented at wide receiver. Lee will see the field and produce results in 2015.

Ryan Smith is currently listed as the second string slot receiver. He played as a true freshman and has caught three passes for 41 yards. He has returned four punts for 90 yards. Smith struggled with an ankle injury for part of 2013. In the victory over Georgia Tech in Atlanta, he recovered two Yellow Jackets onside kicks to help preserve Duke's lead.

Quay Chambers is another big receiver at 6'3" 220. He spent his redshirt freshman year at quarterback before transitioning to wide receiver in the Spring of 2014. Coach Cutcliffe described him as an exceptional athlete back in August 2013 after Chambers ran 63 yards for a touchdown in a team scrimmage. Chambers possesses explosive big play potential and seems tailor made to see action as the motion receiver, a position where his running abilities could be utilized via the jet sweep or end around.

Terrence Alls had a terrific spring practice highlighted by his being named most improved offensive player. Unfortunately, he was subsequently suspended from game competition for a violation of team rules so his status for the 2015 season is currently unknown. His status is expected to be updated prior to the season commencing, but there is no guarantee.

And there are two true freshmen on the roster who will head to practice in August intent on jumping over the competition to earn immediate playing time:

T.J. Rahming shined at the U.S. Army All American Bowl scoring two touchdowns against top level talent. He is dimunitive at 5'10" 165 so adding strength will have to be a priority for his development. Rahming is an interesting situation as his size definitely singles him out as a redshirt candidate; however, his talent level indicates he could make an immediate impact.

Aaron Young is 6'2" 200 and a redshirt candidate in 2015.

The 2015 receiving corps will be a young group, but they are a group with a great deal of unproven talent which equates to unlimited potential or a high ceiling. It will be important for the group to take advantage of the favorable early season schedule, four home games in a row after the opener at Tulane, to work out the kinks in order to be firing on all eight cylinders when the calendar turns to October and the conference schedule starts in earnest.

Football Friday: Wide Receiver Competition

Coach Cutcliffe 11-16-13

Coach Cutcliffe named 2013 National Coach of the Year

Coach Cutcliffe 11-16-13DURHAM, N.C. –

Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe has been named the 2013 National Coach of the Year by the Walter Camp Foundation, announced on Thursday by the organization.

The Walter Camp Coach of the Year is selected by the nation’s 125 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors.

“Coach Cutcliffe is more of a mentor than a coach to me and the rest of my teammates,” redshirt junior quarterback and team captain Anthony Boone said. “It’s been great, just learning how to be a better quarterback and a better man. What makes him special is that he actually cares; that he’s a genuine guy. Everything he says, you can take to heart.”

Now in his sixth year at the helm of the Duke gridiron program, Cutcliffe has guided the Blue Devils to a 10-2 record this season including the ACC’s Coastal Division championship. The 10 wins are the most in school history, bettering the previous standard of nine set by the 1933, 1936, 1938 and 1941 squads.

The ACC’s Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013, Cutcliffe guided Duke to its first ranking in the BCS standings and jumped four spots to No. 20 following last week’s 27-25 road win over North Carolina. Also ranked 20th in this week’s Associated Press national poll, the Blue Devils will face top-ranked Florida State in the 2013 ACC Championship Game on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. The game will be televised nationally by ABC.

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Cutcliffe has guided the Blue Devils to 31 victories in his five-plus seasons after Duke managed just 10 wins in the previous eight years.

Cutcliffe, along with members of the 2013 Walter Camp All-America team, will be honored at the organization’s national awards banquet on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at the Yale University Commons in New Haven. In addition, the Foundation will recognize three individuals – former Notre Dame and Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann (Distinguished American) former Penn State and Oakland Raider standout lineman Matt Millen (Man of the Year) and former North Carolina All-American Ken Huff (Alumnus of the Year) – with major awards.

Walter Camp, “The Father of American football,” first selected an All-America team in 1889. Camp – a former Yale University athlete and football coach – is also credited with developing play from scrimmage, set plays, the numerical assessment of goals and tries and the restriction of play to eleven men per side. The Walter Camp Football Foundation – a New Haven-based all-volunteer group – was founded in 1967 to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and to continue the tradition of selecting annually an All-America team.

The Walter Camp Football Foundation is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients.

Walter Camp Coach of the Year recipients
2013 – David Cutcliffe, Duke
2012 – Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
2011 – Les Miles, LSU
2010 – Chip Kelly, Oregon
2009 – Gary Patterson, TCU
2008 – Nick Saban, Alabama
2007 – Mark Mangino, Kansas
2006 – Greg Schiano, Rutgers
2005 – Joe Paterno, Penn State
2004 – Tommy Tuberville, Auburn
2003 – Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
2002 – Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
2001 – Ralph Friedgen, Maryland
2000 – Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
1999 – Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
1998 – Bill Synder, Kansas State
1997 – Lloyd Carr, Michigan
1996 – Bruce Snyder, Arizona State
1995 – Gary Barnett, Northwestern
1994 – Joe Paterno, Penn State
1993 – Terry Bowden, Auburn
1992 – Gene Stallings, Alabama
1991 – Bobby Bowden, Florida State
1990 – Bobby Ross, Georgia Tech
1989 – Bill McCartney, Colorado
1988 – Don Nehlen, West Virginia
1987 – Dick MacPherson, Syracuse
1986 – Jimmy Johnson, Miami
1985 – Fisher DeBerry, Air Force
1984 – Joe Morrison, South Carolina
1983 – Mike White, Illinois
1982 – Jerry Stovall, Louisiana State
1981 – Jackie Sherrill, Pittsburgh
1980 – Vince Dooley, Georgia
1979 – John Mackovic, Wake Forest
1978 – Warren Powers, Missouri
1977 – Lou Holtz, Arkansas
1976 – Frank R. Burns, Rutgers
1975 – Frank Kush, Arizona State
1974 – Barry Switzer, Oklahoma
1973 – Johnny Majors, Pittsburgh
1972 – Joe Paterno, Penn State
1971 – Bob Devaney, Nebraska
1970 – Bob Blackman, Dartmouth
1969 – Bo Schembechler, Michigan
1968 – Woody Hayes, Ohio State
1967 - John Pont, Indiana

Another opportunity awaits Duke Football


Coach Cut has his Blue Devils at 4-1 thus far this season. Photo copyright Mark Watson/BDN

Last week we led off the week talking of the great opportunity that was at hand for Duke Football. Well, the Blue Devils took care of business by snapping a long Wake Forest win streak in the series, and in the process pushed their season record to 4-1.

It's easy to get caught up in your accomplishments after a big win, and the Blue Devils were feeling good about themselves after Saturday's victory -- that's as it should be. But this is no time for resting on laurels. Being 4-1 only means something if Duke can seize the next opportunity.

The Blue Devils take on Virginia this week in a game where Duke is a slight favorite, and a win pushes their record to 2-0 in the ACC and 5-1 overall -- which would be just a single win shy of bowl eligibility. So while Duke took advantage of its chance against Wake Forest to show people that this program is headed in the right direction, they have an even bigger opportunity versus Virginia at home this week.

The Blue Devils are talking bowl game, but you will not hear that being spoken loudly just yet. Everybody around the program is in a feel-good mode right now, but they know that their accomplishments will seem tarnished if overconfidence causes them so stumble against the Cavaliers.

My thinking is that Coach David Cutcliffe is more than a little aware of this and that he'll have his team focused, but it will take just that. Duke will need to block out what they've done to date in order to give Virginia their best effort, as this is a team that may be better than their 2-3 record would suggest. The Cavaliers have played a pretty strong schedule to date, so underestimating them would be a recipe for disaster. And when you are in the midst of a rebuilding job like Duke is, you simply cannot afford to look past the opponent right in front of you each week.

Hopefully, the Duke fan base will see how big of a game this is for the program, and will turn out in droves to Wallace Wade to cheer the Blue Devils on. This team has earned that support and that respect. And if the fans do come out, as I anticipate they will, Duke will have another golden opportunity to show folks that they deserve their support as they fight their way towards a possible bowl berth, something that will be more than a whisper if the Blue Devils can find a way to win this one.

Once again, opportunity is at hand, and once again it'll be interesting to watch and see what happens.

BDN Monday Musings – “Meet the Devils” event sparks fan interest

Duke QB's Renfree, Boone and Connette BDN Photo

Mark your calendars for October 19th and 20th, for that will be a heck of a weekend for Duke Athletics. On Friday, October 19th the always popular Countdown to Craziness event kicks off the basketball season, and the following day Duke hosts arch rival North Carolina in football. While schools can kick off the basketball season a week earlier with Midnight Madness-type events, Duke is not doing that this year, so CTC was moved back a week in Durham. Regardless, there will be little sleep for the BDN staff as we cover all the events, as we have in seasons past.

Coach Cut is ready for some football - Photo Mark Watson, BDN

The Meet the Blue Devils football event went down this past weekend, as 1500 Duke fans turned out to meet this season's team. Fans got a chance to mingle with players and coaches while seeing the positive changes in the football facilities. Duke unveiled its team posters (ripe for autographs for the youngsters) along with the new helmets and new season ticket plans.

Duke Women's Soccer is hot and ranked #2 in the nation. The team crushed Elon this past weekend, and they next take to the field in the UNC Nike Classic on August 24th at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill.

Be sure to check out our BDN Open Group Facebook Page where we load a lot of photos in an environment that more or less acts as our free message board. Of course, BDN's only true message board is reserved for premium members, who have full site access where they get all the latest inside tidbits and nuggets on the program, as well as a place to discuss recruiting with other members. Here is a link to the Facebook site, where you can see photos from the latest scrimmage and Meet the Devils Day. BDN Facebook Group

A steady stream of fans stood in line to get Coach Cut's autograph this weekend. - BDN Photo

Speaking of photos, BDN has long used our own photographers, and we do not mind others using our pictures -- provided proper credit is given. All of our photos are copyrighted, and we enjoy bringing you up close and personal with Duke Athletics through the medium. But far too many other sites are now using photos without permission and without crediting the original source. If you want to use our photos, please contact us beforehand. Most recently, we had to remove two photos from a gambling site whose operators felt it was their right to swipe them and tag them as their own.  It's not.

On a related subject, it's becoming more apparent to me that on today's web, it can be hard to tell the difference between opinions offered without benefit of real on-scene access and reporting, and opinions offered by those who do have the benefit of firsthand views of a program.  The BDN staff regularly attends all Duke athletic functions and media events. Our team is in the trenches doing the work, enabling us to present an "eyes on" view of the subject matter. Why am I mentioning this? There is a growing trend out there of "reporters" and self-styled "insiders" offering what I'll generously term "borrowed information." A recent blog post came to our attention that consisted of BDN reports being simply copied verbatim, with a few minor word changes, and being passed off as the blogger's own work. The bottom line is that you can trust what you read here as being original in every way. We like what we do, and we make the effort to get out there to cover Duke athletics in a comprehensive, professional, and honest way.

Back to the on-the-field stuff:  The September 1 home opener against Florida International looms, and it should be a good one.  For those unfamiliar with the Panthers, they return 18 starters from a season ago, when they were a bowl team.  The problem with playing an upstart program is that many fans underestimate teams they haven't heard that much about, setting themselves up for surprise and disappointment when they realize these guys can play.  I can tell you firsthand that Duke will have to bring their "A" game to beat this team.  Adding to the pressure is that, given the difficult schedule the Blue Devils face this year, many are already coining this a "must win."  I think Duke will be ready but they'll need the 12th man, meaning a fired-up home crowd, to come out of the gates strong this year and get a win against a quality opponent.

Have a good Monday folks.

Duke would love to see big GA OT Brett Steverson clearing holes in Durham

Georgia OL Brett Steverson impressed by Duke

Duke would love to see big GA OT Brett Steverson clearing holes in Durham

Brett Steverson is a 6'4" 300 pound offensive tackle from Fitzgerald, Georgia. After a slow start, his recruitment is picking up this spring, and he now holds scholarship offers from Duke and Troy, with strong interest from several others. The Blue Devils have Steverson near the top of their recruiting board for offensive lineman, and hosted the top junior on a recent visit. Steverson came away impressed and updated BDN on his recruitment.


BDN: How would you describe your strengths as a player?

As far as being a player, I think that, we’re a run-oriented offense, we run the ball a lot, that’s not to say that I can’t pass block, I’m pretty good at that too. I’m a dominant run blocker, and I think I’m underrated. I think if I match up with anybody in the state, head to head, up front, it doesn’t matter if I’m a two-star or a three-star, it doesn’t matter what they rate me, if I’m going up against a 5-star, All-American, I think I can go head to head with them in run blocking and pass blocking. I love run blocking because I’m physical and I finish all my blocks. As far as pass blocking, I’ve got pretty quick feet for a big guy, but I’d be fine run blocking all game. I can also, in our offense, last year we didn’t pull our tackles as much, but this year we’re supposed to pull our tackles more, so I’ll get a chance to do that. In practice when they pulled them last year, I did a good job and the year before that I actually played guard, so I can pull and move and stuff.

BDN: What are you working on this offseason as you prepare for your senior year?

I think the main thing I’m trying to do is just, I’m a strong kid in the weight room, most people call me the gym rat because every time somebody comes to the weight room, it seems like I’m up there. But, just getting stronger, faster, and quicker, and more explosive. Trying to work on football explosiveness through power cleans and stuff like that so I can be more explosive on the field, it all ties together. That’s the main things I’ve been working on, and also some pass blocking, doing some more one-on-ones so that when I get to combines it’s not such a big thing because we never get in the two-point stance, so just working on my pass blocks and stuff we don’t do that much.

BDN: As you approach your college decision, what are the most important things you are looking for in a school?

I think education is going to play a big role. Another thing that will play a big role is how much of a family atmosphere there is, how the coaches and players get along, how their relationship is. Of course, a relationship between a coach and a player is going to be intense at times, but I also want to have that security where the coach is going to care about you and be like your dad when you’re at college and away from your family. That’s one thing that I really liked about Duke, Coach Cutcliffe is such a great guy, and those guys up there are top notch academically.

BDN: You mentioned Duke as one of the schools that has stood out to you. Where do you stand with offers and interest from schools now?

Duke and Troy are my two offers right now, but our high school coach has been talking a lot to Coach McCollum up at Georgia Tech and Coach Brattan at Maryland, they might offer at any time. People say that Georgia…people say things, that stuff, all the articles and reporters and stuff, until it’s legit, you don’t really know. I did really like Duke and I think Coach Cutcliffe and them are doing a great job up there. I haven’t been to Troy yet. I know that people say Duke’s football is not on the map, but Coach Cutcliffe has done a great job there trying to develop a program, building new facilities. Even though they only won 3 games last year, they lost 5 games by a combined 14 points, so that shows they’re right on the brink of being a bowl team and an ACC contender. That’s a credit to Coach Cut and the players and all the assistants.

BDN: You mentioned Troy as a school that you have some interest in; do you have any plans for any visits this spring or summer?

Miami wants me to come down, I’ll go down there in the summer probably. I’ve been to Georgia three times before I got offered by Duke. It was nice, but I didn’t like the atmosphere, I didn’t take in as much as I did at Duke, even though they’re a top school every year, it just didn’t seem like as friendly of an atmosphere. I plan to go to Troy, but I’m not going to lock down any visits until I get some more offers, which will probably come this spring. I’m not going to really plan anything, I’ll probably go to some places over the summer, but right now I don’t know where I’m going to go. I want to take my mom back up to Duke, because she didn’t get to see it. I have three players from our school, well two are already there and one is going there this fall, to play football at Troy, so it will be cool to catch up with those guys, but I haven’t planned to go there yet.

BDN: Do you have a timeline in mind for when you plan to narrow things down or make your final decision?

That’s a tough questions, because I think I’ll get some more offers this spring and hopefully get an offer from a SEC school, a big SEC school, because it seems when that happens everybody starts to jump on board and pay attention. It would be nice to get an offer from someplace like that so I can see what all my offers and options are going to be. I really would like to make a decision either in very early football season or before football season, because I don’t want my football season to overlap with questions not surrounding the team but surrounding me and my decision. I would rather get that out of the way so it’s less of a distraction for me any my team.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Brett, and best of luck.

Thanks, I appreciate it.