Tag Archives: Coach Cutcliffe

Mallard Creek RB Jela Duncan will choose between Duke, ECU, and Wake Forest

Mallard Creek RB Jela Duncan recaps his Duke official visit for BDN Premium

Mallard Creek RB Jela Duncan is Duke's top remaining priority in the class of 2012

It’s no secret that Jela Duncan has been the Duke coaching staff’s top priority in the class of 2012 for the past several months. The Mallard Creek star RB is viewed as the type of elite athlete that will help the Blue Devils’ program get to the next level. As signing day approaches, Duncan is making his final visits and has narrowed his choices to Duke, ECU, Wake Forest, and North Carolina. Coach Cutcliffe has developed a strong relationship with the elite prospect throughout his recruitment and welcomed him to Durham on an official visit this weekend. Duncan checked in with BDN shortly after returning home from his Duke official visit. [private]

BDN: How was your visit to Duke?

IT went pretty good, it went pretty good. I like it up there, I like it.

BDN: You’ve been to Durham a few times before. What were you able to see on this visit that was different?

Well I got to see more this time. They showed me the academic buildings, got to see the indoor facility since it’s been put up, and I got to sit down and meet with the coaches a little bit more than I had before.

BDN: Did you get to spend some time with the Duke players and who was your host?

Yes, I did. Jamison Crowder. That was my first time actually meeting him.

BDN: Can you talk a little about your relationship with the Duke coaches?

First off, I have a great relationship with Coach Cut. We talk on the phone probably every other day. He calls sometimes just to check up on me and see how I’m doing. My relationship with the running back coach, Coach Roper, that’s a pretty good relationship. We sat down and watched film. He showed me some of the offense that they’re running and it’s basically some of the things we run at Mallard Creek. It was pretty simple.

BDN: What other visits do you have scheduled and when do you think you’ll make your final decision?

I’ll probably make my final decision after I come back from Wake Forest next weekend.

BDN: Is that your last visit remaining?

Yes sir it is. I probably might go on an unofficial visit to UNC this week but I don’t have the date yet.

BDN: You’ve also been able to visit ECU. Do you have a ranking of schools in your head at this point?

It’s basically between ECU, Duke, and UNC and Wake Forest.

BDN: What will be the one or two things that are most important as you make your final decision?

If I feel like I’m at home. Am I comfortable? Am I going to be able to be there for four years without football, looking at life outside of football?

BDN: Thanks a lot, Jela. Best of luck.

Ok, thank you sir.

[/private]

BDN’s Football Friday fills in for Duke’s off week

We missed you too! Just because it’s an off week for Duke Football, doesn’t mean it’s an off week at Blue Devil Nation. BDN brings you first hand coverage of Duke Football all year long, where we cover the team live. While #dukegang enjoys some well-deserved R&R, we bring you back a special in-season edition of BDN’s Football Friday. This edition is open to all fans to give you an idea of what BDN Premium brings to the table with our recruiting and team coverage. BDN has become the place to be for inside info on the football team, so spread the word and by all means join BDN Premium and discuss the latest happenings with fellow members.

#TeamNoDaysOff

Whenever Football Friday goes to a concert, a part of us always wishes that the band would just get to the hits right off the bat. Blow the audience away from the first drumbeat instead of the usual slow crescendo. Maybe that’s just us. Anyway, let’s hit the ground running with recruiting updates. You do remember recruiting, don’t you? It’s the stuff we obsess over when Duke isn’t playing football games. It’s also the stuff that keeps the coaches busy when the team isn’t playing games, and this week is no exception.

Jela Duncan remains priority number one, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Running back remains the one glaring hole in the Duke class of 2012, and the Blue Devils have had their sights set on the Mallard Creek star for quite some time now. The interest is mutual, as Duncan has repeatedly put Duke at the top of his list, primarily based on his close relationship with Head Coach David Cutcliffe. Speaking of the HC, he hit the road after Duke’s Thursday practice to visit with Duncan. Cut will also take in Mallard Creek’s game against North Mecklenburg. Duncan has been lighting up opponents so far this year, leading Mallard Creek to a perfect 6-0 record, while running behind big Florida-bound OL D.J. Humphries. Jela has an official visit planned to Purdue this weekend, and has already visited Duke several times, but is finalizing his other official visit plans.

Traveon Henry is another top running back prospect that the Blue Devil staff is enamored with, and the Fort Lauderdale native was in Durham to take in Duke’s big win against Tulane. That visit was Henry’s first official and sources say the visit went very well. Henry is playing his recruitment close to the vest, but they do plan to visit Florida State, Northwestern, and Yale later this fall. A star on both offense and defense, Henry as earned over a dozen scholarship offers. He also plays on the basketball team at Pine Crest and is a former teammate of Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight.

Jamie Gilmore is another Florida prospect that the Blue Devils are looking at as a potential running back in the class of 2012. The North Marion HS star plans to visit Durham in December, and is also eyeing visits to Maryland and Utah.

Duke will keep in touch with several other prospects, but would be unlikely to take a commitment until they’ve heard a decision from these three players.

So what about the rest of the class of 2012? Did you already forget the 14 newest Blue Devils-to-be? The Duke coaching staff hasn’t, and they will be hitting the road this weekend to check in with most of Duke’s verbal commitments. Just to refresh your memory:

TE Dan Beilinson 6’5” 225 pounds

OT Casey Blaser 6’5” 255 pounds

DE Allen Jackson 6’5” 225 pounds

WR Max McCaffrey 6’2” 185 pounds

K Ross Martin 5’10” 185 pounds

WR Anthony Nash 6’4″ 180 pounds

S Dwayne Norman 6’0” 182 pounds

TE Erich Schneider 6’5” 200 pounds

QB Thomas Sirk 6’4” 210 pounds

OG Tanner Stone 6’6” 255 pounds

S Michael Westray 6’1” 195 pounds

LB Deion Williams 5’11” 210 pounds

DE A.J. Wolf 6’4” 245 pounds

DE/DT Carlos Wray 6’2” 245 pounds

Looking at the list, Duke could use another LB and another lineman and the staff will have to crunch the numbers with regards to available scholarships for this class. A few of the remaining targets who are contemplating official visits to Duke are LB Keilin Rayner, LB Jeremiah Allison, DT D.J. Reader, OL Bryce Kennedy, and OL Robert Conyers. The coaching staff is also looking at a few hybrid athletes who could potentially fill an offensive or defensive position, depending on how things play out. Two such players would be Tysean Holloway from Asheville and Lakeith Walls from Ohio. And if you’re wondering whether Duke is searching far and wide for talent, Coach Lubick will be on the west coast this weekend, visiting Deion Williams, among other prospects.

3 in a row, Tic-tac-toe

A-B-C, 1-2-3, etc, etc. Duke can win football games. And they can do it in a variety of ways. Duke is playing much better football heading into their bye week than they were in week one, and that really should be no surprise. The Blue Devils have an experienced coaching staff and a young roster, with 67% underclassmen. There is plenty of reason to believe that the best is yet to come for the 2011 Blue Devils, but let’s recap what we’ve seen so far.

Duke has won three straight games, which is newsworthy in itself, but it’s even more notable when you look at how they won those three football games. After a disappointing 0-2 start, Duke traveled to Chestnut Hill with their confidence shaken and another dismal season staring them down. But, as BDN’s Terry Rains pointed out earlier, the Blue Devils were able to rally together and, behind a record-setting performance by Sean Renfree, were able to win ugly. Duke played a game that was far from perfect, but even with many costly mistakes, they emerged with the W. We always talk about how slim Duke’s margin for error is, but maybe that margin is widening just a little bit.

With the weight of the world off their shoulders, the Blue Devils returned home to a steamy Wallace Wade Stadium, where they dominated the Tulane Green Wave. The Duke offense faced little resistance from the Green Wave, and for the first time in a long time, the Blue Devils were clearly the better football team in all phases of the game. Duke was able to jump out to a 48-13 lead, which allowed a group of young players to take some meaningful snaps against a FBS opponent. It was a rare, but welcome, blowout win for the Blue Devils.

A week later, those late 4th quarter snaps proved invaluable, as the Blue Devils traveled to Miami to take on an impressive FIU team. BDN was on the scene to take in an entertaining game from “The Cage,” played in front of the largest crowd in FIU history. After Duke fell behind 10 points in the 4th quarter, instead of a sense of defeat, there was an air of quiet determination on the Duke sideline. The team was waiting for a spark to turn the momentum, and it came from an unlikely pair of Blue Devils. Two redshirt-freshmen, the all-hyphen team, DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo and SAF Anthony Young-Wiseman, both of whom were filling in for injured Blue Devils, came up with the decisive sack and fumble recovery that turned the game around for Duke. Against a quality opponent on the road, the Blue Devils played good, fundamental football. They did not commit a turnover and were whistled for just 2 penalties all night. It was an impressive performance for a program that has been haunted by miscues and misfortune.

For a good summary of Duke’s strengths and weaknesses thus far, be sure to check out Bob Green’s analysis of the Blue Devils first five games.

Where do we go from here?

Strap yourselves in, for it might be a bumpy ride, wherever we’re headed. The Blue Devils have a difficult road in front of them, with upcoming trips to Miami, Virginia, and North Carolina in November. Immediately after the bye, Duke starts a crucial three game homestand against Florida State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. There will be no easy wins in ACC play, but the Blue Devils are playing good football and are capable of competing with every team left on the schedule. That’s not just coach speak.  For those interested in some unpaid, unofficial advanced scouting work, tune in to the ACC network at 12:30 PM ET to watch the Seminoles travel to Winston-Salem, a free preview of Duke’s next two opponents.

At 3-2 heading into the off week, Duke has managed to keep their bowl hopes alive, but they will need to play their best football down the stretch if they hope to extend their season into December. Of course, while Football Friday may not be here in writing, we’ll be around in spirit every step of the way. This young Duke team still has a lot in store for us. WE ARE DUKE.

Duke takes on the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN3

BDN previews Duke’s Homecoming Game with Tulane

Duke takes on the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN3

Fresh off a hard-fought ACC road win at Boston College, Duke welcomes the Tulane Green Wave to Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday. Historically one of the weaker BCS programs, Tulane enters the game off to a 2-1 start to their season after a 49-10 blowout of UAB last Saturday. As we mentioned last week, the Blue Devils have embarked on a crucial three-game stretch heading into their off week October 8. Duke was able to do enough to win against BC, and will now have to put together another strong effort to knock off a much-improved Tulane team.

Duke QB Sean Renfree will have to continue his strong play against Tulane

KEYS FOR DUKE

  1. B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!: Duke’s redshirt-junior quarterback silenced his critics last week with a record-setting performance against a physical Boston College defense. Despite taking numerous hits, Renfree dominated the game, spreading the ball around to Duke’s receivers and finishing 41/53 for a career-high 368 yards. The Duke offense is difficult to defend when Renfree is given time to spread the ball around the field and be aggressive throwing the football. Tulane’s defense is headlined by former Blue Devil LB Trent Mackey and Iowa transfer DE Dezman Moses, but has allowed over 340 yards of total offense to opponents. Much like they did last week against BC, Duke will need to spread the ball around the field and minimize Mackey’s impact on the game. Expect another aggressive passing offense and big days for Renfree, Donovan Varner, Conner Vernon, Brandon Braxton, Jamison Crowder, and Cooper Helfet.

    Former Blue Devil LB Trent Mackey anchors the Tulane defense
  2. Dominate along the defensive line: Tulane’s offense is potent and incredibly balanced, having picked up 27 rushing 1st downs and 28 passing 1st downs through three games. The Green Wave average33 points per game and are led by sophomore RB Orleans Darkwa (47 carries, 151 yards, 3 touchdowns) and redshirt-junior QB Ryan Griffin (54/79, 718 yards, 6 touchdowns). Griffin’s favorite target has been redshirt-senior WR Joe Kemp, who averages over 4 receptions per game, but redshirt-sophomore WR Wilson Van Hooser and freshman WR Justin Shackelford are also dangerous weapons with big-play potential. For the Blue Devils, the key to disrupting the Tulane offense will be the play along the line of scrimmage. Duke must continue to do a good job stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback, and should build off of last week’s performance at BC (shutting out the Eagles in the 2ndhalf). Redshirt-junior DE Kenny Anunike has managed to stay healthy and has been an important contributor early this season, leading the team with 5 tackles for loss, including 4 sacks. Senior safety Matt Daniels and sophomore LB Kelby Brown have been very effective against the run, and will have to continue to play at an extremely high level against a talented Tulane offense. With the Blue Devils’ secondary a little banged up this Saturday, the defensive line will have to bring pressure to slow the balanced Green Wave offense.

    Duke is still looking for its first FG of 2011. -BDN Photo
  3. Minimize costly mistakes: The Blue Devils committed 9 penalties for a total of 79 yards last Saturday against Boston College. In addition, they had a punt blocked, missed a field goal, and sent a kickoff out of bounds. Duke has to sort out its kicking woes if it hopes to continue to win football games, and continued mistakes could cost them this week against a hungry, confident Tulane team. With Will Snyderwine again questionable to play on Saturday, the Duke coaching staff may have a difficult decision to make regarding freshman Will Monday if Jeff Ijjas and Paul Asack continue to struggle. Against a team like Tulane, Duke should be able to win the special teams battle, with freshman Jamison Crowder and senior Lee Butler both capable of big plays in the return game. The Blue Devils may not have to play flawless football to win Saturday, but their margin for error is still very small; minimizing drive-killing penalties and kicking miscues has to be a primary area of improvement for this team.

GAME ANALYSIS

Turnovers

Tulane +3, Duke -2

The Green Wave have forced a total of 6 turnovers through 3 games, including 5 interceptions, led by redshirt-sophomore CB Derrick Strozier with 2 and LB Trent Mackey with a 39-yard pick-6. Offensively, Tulane has fumbled the football 7 times, but lost only 2; Duke has fumbled the football 4 times and lost 3.

Sacks

Tulane 10, Duke 4

Tulane has done an excellent job of getting after the opposing QB through their first three games, led by sophomore DT Julius Warmsley with 3 and junior DE Austen Jacks with 2.5. Duke’s pass rush has been a one-man show thus far, with DE Kenny Anunike picking up 4 sacks on the year. The Blue Devils’ offensive line has allowed 8 sacks on the year, while the Green Wave have given up just 4.

3rd Down

Duke 40%, Tulane 35%

The Blue Devils were impressive on 3rd down last Saturday against Boston College, converting 53% of their opportunities. The Green Wave have converted just 15 of 43 3rd down opportunities. Both teams allow opponents to be successful on 38% of 3rd downs.

Explosives

As we say every week, explosive plays come down to playmakers making plays. Last week, the Blue Devils’ offense came up with 3 explosive plays of >20 yards, including 2 touchdown strikes to WR Conner Vernon. The Duke offense should continue to be aggressive and find the end zone on Saturday.

Rushing TDs

Duke 5, Tulane 5

This is a dead heat. Both teams have scored 5 TDs on the ground and allowed 5 TDs on the ground. Duke has to run the ball more effectively in the red zone to avoid settling for field goals.

Field Goals

Tulane 2/4, Duke 0/6

Speaking of field goals, will this be the week that Duke makes its first field goal of the 2011 season? In what may be a high-scoring game, the Blue Devils will have to put points on the board and cannot afford more empty trips to the red zone (6 empty trips already this season). Tulane’s Cairo Santos has made both FG attempts from within 40 yards, but is 0/2 from beyond 40 yards on the season.

Penalties

Duke 16-131 yards, Tulane 18-159 yards

Duke has typically been a disciplined football team under Head Coach David Cutcliffe, but their few penalties this year have been particularly costly. The Blue Devils will have to play smarter football on Saturday to avoid putting themselves in a hole against the Green Wave.

PREDICTION

The Blue Devils are 10 points favorites for Homecoming this year, but this game is likely to be closer than that. The Green Wave are a balanced and talented football team that will challenge Duke in all phases of the game. Duke will have to put together another dominant offensive effort to emerge victorious Saturday, and Sean Renfree seems up to the task. Tulane will put up some points on the Duke defense, but will be unable to keep up with the potent Blue Devil passing game.

Duke 35, Tulane 31

All-American Will Snyderwine will anchor Duke's kicking game again in 2011 -Duke Photography

BDN previews Duke’s 2011 special teams units

Prior to the arrival of Head Coach David Cutcliffe, Duke fans remember all too well the days of missed field goals (and extra points!!), botched snaps, muffed punts, and missed tackles. Duke’s special teams is now light years ahead of where it was just a few seasons ago, and should continue to improve and become a strength for the 2011 Blue Devils.

 

All-American Will Snyderwine will anchor Duke's kicking game again in 2011 -Duke Photography

Kicking

Losses: Nick Maggio

Key returners: Will Snyderwine (R-Sr.), Paul Asack (R-Jr.)

Newcomers: none

2010 Review: Lou Groza semifinalist Will Snyderwine handled the kicking duties for the second straight season in 2010. After taking over for the injured Maggio in 2009, the former walk-on has now hit 38 of 44 (86.4%) field goal attempts in the past two seasons for the Blue Devils, with a career long of 52 yards at Georgia Tech in 2010. Snyderwine converted 32 extra points in 2010, extending his perfect career streak to 56/56. The combined field goal and extra point totals placed second all-time at Duke, with 95 points, and earned him All-American honors by the American Football Coaches Association, making him the first Blue Devil All-American kicker in school history. His value to the Duke team extended beyond field goals and extra points, as he increased his touchback numbers from 2/47 in 2009 to 11/60 in 2010.  Charged to work on on-side kicks last offseason by Coach Cutcliffe, Snyderwine delivered, as the Blue Devils were able to recover 4 of 6 on-side kicks in 2010. Overall, the Duke kickoff unit ranked 3rd in the ACC and 18th in the country, allowing just 19.71 yards per return, with opponents average start at the 24 yard line.

2011 Outlook: Snyderwine returns to anchor the kicking game again in 2011, and has already garnered several preseason accolades, including the Lou Groza Award Watch List and several preseason All-American honors. The former walk-on has developed into a potent weapon for the Duke offense and special teams units. Snyderwine appears ready to cap off a historic career at Duke with a big senior season. With increased depth throughout the roster, the kick coverage should continue to improve and become a strength for the Blue Devils. Big plays occasionally haunted the Duke coverage unit, and they did give up one touchdown return on the season against Alabama. The only concern with the Duke kicking game in 2011 might be depth at kicker, where an injury to Snyderwine could significantly weaken the Blue Devils.

Highly-touted freshman punter Will Monday will challenge senior Alex King

Punting

Losses: Kevin Jones

Key returners: Alex King (Sr.)

Newcomers: Will Monday (Fr.)

2010 Review: Jones lost the starting job to King after a botched punt against Wake Forest in 2010. King was mostly dependable for the Duke punting game, averaging 41.1 yards per punt, finishing 7th in the ACC. Of 55 punts on the year, King was able to pin opponents within the 20 yards line 21 times, with 6 touchbacks. The Blue Devils’ punters achieved a net of 33.6 yards per punt, which ranked 9th in the conference and 106th in the nation. The punt coverage, however, faired worse, allowing 14.4 yards per return, which ranked last in the conference and 117th in the nation. The Blue Devils were only able to force 7 fair catches on the season and allowed a punt return touchdown against Maryland.

2011 Outlook: Punting appeared to be the biggest weakness among Duke’s special teams unit in 2010, and stands to be an area of significant improvement in 2011. The hope is that with better depth, speed, and athleticism, the punt coverage unit will do a better job of limiting opponent returns. Punting should improve as well, as King now has nearly a full year of starting under his belt, and will be pushed by highly-touted freshman Will Monday.  The competition between King and Monday will definitely be one to watch this month.

 

Josh Snead led the Blue Devils' kick returners in 2010

Kick Return

Losses: none

Key returners: Patrick Kurunuwe (R-Jr.), Desmond Scott (Jr.), Conner Vernon (Jr.), Josh Snead (So.), Juwan Thompson (So.)

Newcomers: TBD

2010 Review: Scott, Snead, and Thompson were the leading return men for the Blue Devils in 2010, and Duke ended the season 4th in the ACC with an average of 20.9 yards per return. As true freshmen, Snead and Thompson ranked 7th and 8th individually with averages of 22.0 and 21.7 yards, respectively. The Duke return game provided the offense with an average starting position of the 27 yard line.

2011 Outlook: Duke has yet to return a kickoff for a touchdown under Coach Cutcliffe. Will 2011 be the year? With the three primary return men all back, Duke seems poised to continue to use kick returns as a strength. Scott, Snead, and Thompson will continue to share carries in the Duke backfield, and will also split the kick return duties. With their combination of size, vision, and speed, it may be difficult for any newcomers to break into the rotation, but the Duke staff has shown a desire to rotate multiple return men in an effort to keep players fresh throughout the season. The kick return job is another key competition to watch during training camp.

Senior Lee Butler is Duke's leading punt returner in 2011

Punt return

Losses: none

Key returners: Lee Butler (Sr.), Johnny Williams (Sr.)

Newcomers: ?Jared Boyd (Fr.), ?Tim Burton (Fr.), ?Jamison Crowder (Fr.)

2010 Review: Butler handled the vast majority of punt return duties in 2010, finishing with a respectable 8.6 yards per return, which ranked 5th in the ACC and 31st in the nation. With a season long of 33 yards, Butler was able to consistently advance the ball, but rarely broke out for big returns. Williams showed some explosiveness as a punt returner in 2009, but due to injuries and a position change, only returned 2 punts in 2010.

2011 Outlook: With both Butler and Williams back, along with a group of speedy youngsters headed by Jamison Crowder, Duke appears ready to develop the punt return game into a significant weapon. There is likely to be significant competition for the starting job, and with some improved blocking, 2011 might be the year that fans see an explosive punt return game from the Blue Devils. Coach Cutcliffe has historically emphasized the kicking game in past training camps, and the punt return unit is likely to see significant reps this August.

BDN Duke Football 2011 Offense Preview

BDN Duke Football 2011 Defense Preview

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