Tag Archives: Cutcliffe

Monday Musings, Holiday Style! Football, Basketball, Cheerleaders, Mild Rant

Congrats to this weeks Monday Musings Cheerleader of the Week - BDN Photo

Good Labor Day Monday folks!  Despite the holidaze there is still a Monday Musings column in store for those who read on.  I recap the opening day win over Elon, touch on recruiting, encourage you to support Coach K and Team USA and whine a little bit about the Wade Wacko’s who leave the game early.  And of course, there is our continued salute to the cheerleaders and the best mascot in the world with the pic of the week.

It’s good to be 1-0

The Blue Devils have a lot of areas to improve upon after their 41-27 opening day victory over Elon but for now they are 1-0 and that affords the football team an opportunity to get off to a good start in 2010.  Several young players showed they have good upside and abilities in Saturday’s win including a pair of freshman running backs in Josh Snead and Juwon Thompson ability.  Be it a timely sack from redshirt freshman Justin Foxx or Desmond Scott showing that he wanted to be the man in the backfield, Duke’s youth showed promise and gained valuableexperience.  Trust me, Elon is no slouch or a walk in the park like Samford, Florida A & M or other opening day beating boys for fellow ACC members.  Still, Duke must stop letting up big plays which Coach Cutcliffe alluded to on his call in show on Sunday if they have a chance against Wake Forest in Winston Salem this weekend.

Speaking of Wake Forest

This is a huge game for Duke in many ways for the Blue Devils at some point must break through against an opponent that has had their number the last ten outings.  Despite that disparity, the Blue Devils still dominate the series against their rival.  Cutlciffe could chalk up another signature win should the cards fall right on Saturday where Duke is an early 5.5 point underdog.  Hopefully, the Duke Nation will travel in force to support the team in this noon affair which will be televised by Raycom Sports.  Early indicators point to a good old fashion shoot out but as we all know there is a lot of improvement from week one to week two and that will determine who wins this contest.  You can bet that both teams held back much of their arsenal in the openers which is another indicator that this will be one heck of an early season ACC matchup.  We’ll be talking a lot about this game as the week progresses.

Thaddeus Lewis and the Rams

I love me some Thaddeus Lewis!  Getting to know Lewis over the years was rewarding and it is no surprise to me that he made the cut for the St. Louis Rams.  Unassuming and laid back off the field, Lewis is all about drive when on it and I can tell you first hand that he is a hard worker trying to fulfill his dreams.  I’ll miss Mrs. Lewis being right there on front row to cheer her son on and I will certainly follow his exploits in the NFL as will many of you.  It couldn’t have happened to a better kid.

 
 

I keep telling the Blue Devil he is exclusive to Blue Devil Nation but as you can see, he'll have none of it as he hams it up for yet another camera in the hood.

Nice crowd there, Duke fans!

For those who attended this past Saturday’s game, I am sure they’ll tell you it was nice to see Wally World [Wallace Wade Stadium] full which made for a great college football environment.  Lots of Duke Blue filled the place and those there for the first time will hopefully return.  In short, let’s do it again!  Now, if we can get the students to stay past half time, we’ll have really made progress.  Oh snap!  That’s just not a fair statement for the ones who did remain were really good.  I dream of a day the students will lift the team for the whole game.  It’s happened, it can happen, but will it happen?

USA -USA -USA!

That old Mike Krzyzewski just keeps on winning and he hasn’t let up since last seasons Countdown to Craziness.  Team USA enters the elimination round and after an expected walk through in game one, it will get dicey from then on.  Support our guys starting this week and let’s cheer them on while Kryzyzewski works his magic.  The master will return with assistant coach Chris Collins in late September where they will hit the road running to prepare for what should be a fabulous 2010-11 season.

Countdown to Craziness 2

It’s coming to  theater near you!  October 15h marks the start of the college basketball season in many ways and the Blue Devils are stirring up more than just a little excitement.  Several prospects are lined up for the event which you can read about on BDN Premium, your inside source for all things Duke.  Last years event was incredible and it set the tone for a national championship run and who’ll ever forget short-short’s and ice.  We’ll defer to Nolan Smith for the answers if I lost you there.

Recruiting is quiet but that will change soon

With Coach K  in the middle east and kids just starting back to school, all is rather quiet on the hoops recruiting front, but that’ll change shortly as in home visits will be set up and again, check out BDN Premium for all the latest.  We posted a new interview with Shabazz Muhammad today and have more as the week progresses.

Be safe, be happy and relax

You deserve a break today and not because you visited McDonald’s.  Did anyone get that lame attempt at humor or did I generation you out?  Regardless, take time to relax, recharge, spend time with family and friends.  Think of what is important in life!  That’s obviously Duke Athletics.  Seriously, hope all had a great Labor Day weekend and thanks for checking out the Blue Devil Nation.

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Recapping Duke’s 41-27 win over Elon

Coach Cutliffe leds his troops to a 41-27 opening day win over Elon - BDN Photo

DURHAM – BDN takes a look at several aspects of the game and individual play in our first addition of Sunday Morning Quarterback for the 2010 season.

Sean Renfree Debut is solid

Renfree was one cool customer in the Blue Devils opening win throwing for 350 yards and 2 touchdowns.  More impressive was his completion percentage of 31 for 39.  Renfree took a sack in the game but from my vantage he looked off his receivers and when none were open took the sack instead of throwing what would have been a risky pass.  Renfree had control of his team and showed he was cool under pressure but he admitted that he was at times nervous.  Renfree is the key to Duke’s success this season and teams will start to come after him beginning with Wake Forest this Saturday.

Running game led by Scott

Durham native Desmond Scott rushed for 77 yards on 15 carries for a 5.5 yard average.  True freshman Josh Snead [1 touchdown] added 29 yards and fellow frosh Juwon Thompson 26 which translates into 4.1 and 3.1 yards per carry.  Jay Hollingsworth scored a touchdown but was not as effective gaining 16 yards on 10 carries.  Reserve quarterback Brandon Connette showed off his running ability scampering 48 yards down the sideline on his only carry.  Overall the running game improved but there is plenty of room for improvement with concerns to making big plays.

Offensive front solid

The offensive line seemed improved as well and Cutcliffe was able to play several backups as the game progressed which is for the first time in many years allowing the Blue Devils to build some depth.

Conner Vernon picks up where he left off

Vernon led Duke in receptions with 10 catches for 129 yards and the sophomore wideout shows tremendous confidence on the field.  There were several instances where he let the coverage know they could not stop him and that edginess to his game is refreshing.

Donovan Varner just as good

Varner took a while to warm up and he saw more coverage than any Duke receiver.  He still brought in 7 catches for a touchdown and 123 yards in receptions.

Good night for Brandon King

A few years ago King caught a TD pass vs UConn and it looked as if he would be a playmaker for Duke.  The Blue Devils are deep at the tight end position but King stood out last evening with a touchdown catch of 7 yards to go with his 5 catches.  Duke held out Cooper Helfet and Brett Huffman hauled in 2 passes as well.

A great opening night crowd

Fans turned out in force selling out Wallace Wade Stadium and the atmosphere was solid most of the evening.   The 33,941 fans still do not quite get on a whole when to cheer on key defensive downs but they are getting better and the support was appreciated by Cutcliffe and his team.  If Duke can beat Wake this weekend, Duke will have a strong crowd for the Army.  And Alabama?  Get there three hours before kickoff.

542 yards of total offense

Not bad, huh?  The offensive output was the most in the David Cutcliffe era.  The previous high was 502 in the win over N.C State last season.

The good

Offensively Duke looks as if they are really grasping Cutcliffes system in his third year at the helm.  Getting off to a 1-0 start is always nice and Elon is a good football team.  The passing game looks great after one game and the crowd was supportive and all promotions came off in a positive manner.  Duke was able to play a lot of players which will bode well for the future.  Duke had some young guys shine.

The bad

Duke had opportunities to put the Phoenix away but allowed them to hang in the game when the offense stalled via mistakes.  The Duke defense let up a whopping 400 plus yards and they could not stop Elon in the fourth quarter which is a concern.  The punting game was so-so and a missed field goal is concerning

The ugly

The third quarter was atrocious for Duke and they cannot afford that kind of a drop off versus Wake.  The Blue Devils came out a bit passive and that allowed the Phoenix to gain confidence and cut the lead to 27-20.

The bottom line

There were plenty of positives for Duke as has been mentioned but the defensive effort will have to improve if there is any chance of a win over Wake Forest in Winston Salem this week.  Bare in mind that Duke did not show their hand on offense and kept it close to the vest at times trying to establish a running game. Duke responded to adversity when the lead was cut to one score by getting it done on offense.  The bottom line is Duke is 1-0.

Next play

Duke will now travel to Wake Forest who has defeated the Blue Devils ten straight times.  Coach Cutcliffe keeps some game balls in his office and this is one of those wins which would mean another one on the shelf.  It is oh-so important to get a conference win for both schools and a shootout may be in store.

BDN previews Duke – Elon, staff picks the outcome

Are you ready for some Duke football? BDN wraps up kickoff week with a preview of Duke’s week 1 matchup with the Elon Phoenix.  

Duke in 2009

The Blue Devils finished 4th in the ACC Coastal Division in 2009 with a record of 5-7, including wins against Army, North Carolina Central, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina State. Led by senior QB Thaddeus Lewis, the offense carried the Blue Devils with a prolific passing attack. Duke’s top three receivers formed one of the most formidable receiving corps in the nation in 2009, as All-ACC first team performer Donovan Varner, Freshman All-American Conner Vernon, and junior Austin Kelly all caught over 50 passes. Duke struggled to run the ball, finishing last in the ACC and the nation in rushing with only 63.5 yards per game. The defense was led by seniors DT Vince Oghobaase (All-ACC honorable mention), DE Ayanga Okpokoworuk, LB Vinnie Rey (2nd team All-ACC), and CB Leon Wright (All-ACC honorable mention). Despite falling short of a bowl berth, the five wins marked the most for the program since 1994. 

Elon in 2009

Elon is coming off the program’s first ever FCS playoff invitation in 2009, in what was head coach Pete Lembo’s fourth year with the program. The Phoenix finished 2009 ranked in the FCS top 10, losing in the first round of the FCS playoffs to Richmond, 16-13. The Phoenix dominated opposing offenses, finishing fourth in the country in total defense, allowing just 248.33 yards per game. Elon also finished in the top 10 in scoring defense, pass defense, and sacks. The offense was equally impressive, led by senior WR Terrell Hudgins, who was runner-up for the Walter Payton Award in his outstanding senior campaign, in which he recorded 123 receptions and 1633 yards, becoming the all-time FCS leader in receiving yards. Scott Riddle led the offense in his third years as starting quarterback, eclipsing the 10,000 yard mark for his career. The Elon ground game was paced by sophomore Jamal Shuman, who led the team with 677 rushing yards, and junior Brandon Newsome, who rushed for 7 touchdowns in 2009.

 

Analysis

First week matchups are always difficult to predict, as teams adjust to new personnel, coaching, and opponents. Every team has question marks heading into week one, and Duke and Elon are no exception. The Blue Devils must replace a record-setting quarterback and five starters on defense. They must develop a consistent rushing attack and utilize their speed on defense to pressure opposing offenses. QB Sean Renfree appears poised to take over under center and should have the benefit of a veteran offensive line and receiving corps. Five players will play at running back for Duke in 2010, led by sophomore Desmond Scott, who showed flashes of his potential as a freshman in 2009. On defense, Duke will attempt to utilize depth at linebacker and different schemes to disrupt opposing offenses. A deeper and more experienced secondary should have better playmakers than a year ago. After a disappointing loss to Richmond in last season’s opener, Duke should be better prepared in 2010. 

The Phoenix have questions of their own heading into their season, though expectations are still high. Elon was selected 2nd in the Southern Conference and 7th in the FCS in preseason polls. Preseason Southern Conference Player of the Year Scott Riddle has already cemented his name in the record books in just 3 years at Elon, but loses his top receiver from 2009 in Terrell Hudgins. Seniors Lance Camp and Sean Jeffcoat will have to fill the void, but may struggle to get open against Duke’s speedy secondary. The Phoenix have the biggest concerns on defense, where they must replace starters on the defensive line and the secondary. The linebackers will be called upon to lead the defense, starting with junior Joshua Jones and senior Brandon Wiggins. Elon was one of the top defensive teams in the country last season and are well-coached, but with significant losses, their 2009 dominance may be hard to repeat.  

BDN Prediction

Pete Lembo has built the Phoenix into a top program within the FCS, but Duke is now a competitive FBS program and has aspirations of competing for future ACC and BCS championships. Elon was overmatched against their lone FBS opponent in 2009 in Wake Forest, losing 35-7 in Winston-Salem. The Blue Devils have better athletes than Elon at nearly every position, and have finally built up quality depth at key positions. With Duke’s youth, consistency has been a concern throughout practice and will continue to be important throughout the season. Riddle, a savvy veteran quarterback, will take advantage of the Blue Devils’ defensive aggressiveness and inconsistencies, but Sean Renfree and the Duke receivers should have no problems with the inexperienced Phoenix secondary. The Blue Devils will attempt to control the game on the ground, sharing carries among multiple running backs, while opening the game up through the air. 

Each week in 2010, BDN will provide our consensus pick from football contributors Mark Watson, Bob Green, and Patrick Cacchio. The consensus BDN pick here is: 

Duke – 31

Elon – 14