Duke Football is hitting the field earlier than most schools for spring practice and most of the players are ready to go. BDN went one on one with the Blue Devils star wide receiver Conner Vernon who is coming off an injury but you would never know it talking to him.
This week BDN Monday Musings discusses the Duke Football and the huge game tomorrow evening for the Duke Men's Basketball team at Ohio State in Columbus. And of course, we have our cheerleader of the week as well and other tidbits.
Duke at Ohio State, ACC-Big Ten Challenge
I can't remember a season in recent memory where the Blue Devils have played a NCAA tournament like schedule early on. Tomorrow evening Duke heads to Columbus to face the #2 ranked team in the nation in the Ohio State Buckeyes. We are talking Jared Sullinger here, a dominant big man and first team All American who spurned the NBA to play for a loaded team. This may well be a 2 versus 3 match up once the polls come out later today for Duke could leap Syracuse with their big wins and of course #1 North Carolina takes a quick exit from the top spot. The Blue Devils will have to bring their "A" game to defeat the buckeyes and this will be a big time test for a young team. During yesterdays press conference, it was clear that the Duke players look forward to the challenge. The game tips at 9:30 tomorrow and I am sure the entire Blue Devil Nation will be tuned in.
Next year, it's the Bahama's for the Blue Devils
Next Thanksgiving the Duke Men's Basketball team will head to the Bahama's, Paradise Island to be exact for the Battle in Atlantis. Other teams slated for the affair are Stanford led by Johnny Dawkins, Memphis, Minnesota, Missouri, Louisville, Northern Iowa and Virginia Commonwealth. Here is the link for the field.
A November to remember
What a whirlwind of a month it has been for Duke Basketball. Coach Krzyzewski broke the all time NCAA wins record and he 's still going. The team itself is an outstanding 7-0 and they'll next face Ohio State in a monster prime time match up. The only thing missing is a commitment from key prospect Tony Parker. Well, let's save that for a December to remember. Seriously, Mr. Parker ... what more could you want than to play for the prime time Duke Blue Devils?
Goodbye Matt Daniels
Of all the seniors on this team, a couple stand out for me. One is Donovan Varner, the other is Matt Daniels. It's fun watching Daniels lay down so hits where the opponent gets up with a tatted chest and the senior had a career high 18 tackles against North Carolina. Duke will sorely miss his leadership and upbeat nature and BDN wishes this young man the best of luck at the next level. There will never be another Matt Daniels in that he was that unique.
The season is over for Duke Football
If you've been a long time Duke Football fan or even short term for that matter, you are used to disappointment. Despite being use to that unwanted feeling, it still stings when the team struggles. At the beginning of the season, I said anything less than 4-8 would be a disappointment and I stick by that as the team finished 3-9. Losing to Richmond in the opener with a good crowd in the stands set the table early on and this game was a must win in so many ways. The Blue Devils never recovered from that loss and the Spiders turned out to be a horrible football team. That game just flat out left a taste in fan's mouths that was hard to get rid of and it still does to this day for me. But Duke did come close in many games and had the ball bounced their way a few times, this team would be going bowling for the first time in over a decade. Being close to the situation, I can tell you that these kids are all class acts with great character so that is something to be proud of but this is a program where the players need to expect to win and until they do it'll be tough sailing. The Blue Devils lose some key seniors but return a whole lot of their team next season and add more redshirts. This past year was the first season with all of Coach Cut's players, so next year Duke will be expected to be better and the schedule will not make that easy where I count, again, 3 games Duke should win. The other 9, they'll be underdogs in. Look for a lot of off season talk about Anthony Boone getting more of a shot to compete with senior Sean Renfree and much more. Duke will be picked last in their division again, so here is to hoping they sneak up on the league and start to round the corner
CHAPLE HILL - The Duke Blue Devils fell to arch rival North Carolina and in the process ended the season with a disappointing 3-9 record. The Blue Devils made key mistakes when they were in scoring position and the season long bugaboo, letting up big plays, once again doomed their hopes of pulling an upset.
In fairness, the Blue Devils limped into the game having sustained a myriad of injuries to key players. The Tar Heels also knocked Sean Renfree out of the game and Conner Vernon returned after his injury but was never the same after a high ankle sprain. On the other side of the ball, Giovani Bernard ran shredded the Duke defense with 165 yards rushing, including a 48 yard scamper right up the gut for a touchdown to give the Tar Heels a 20-7 lead.
Duke would cut the margin to 6 before half time with Renfree connecting with Jamison Crowder for a 45 yard score. As mentioned, Renfree injured his hand early int he first half and Anthony Boone came off the bench to give Duke a spark of hope, leading his team to 11 play 75 yard drive and cutting the lead to 23-21.
North Carolina wasted little time answering with a 11 play 75 yard drive of their own giving them 30-21 lead and they never looked back. The Tar Heels then went on a another long drive for a score making the final margin 37-31. The Tar Heels ended their season at 7-5 with the victory.
It was the final game for a few key seniors on the Blue Devils squad, including likely All ACC 1st team Matt Daniels. Other seniors that will be missed next season include Donovan Varner, Cooper Helfet and Charlie Hatcher. Daniels had an amazing 18 tackles in the game, a career high and Duke will be hard pressed to replace that kind of production, but almost the entire team beyond these young men return next season.
After the game Duke Coach David Cutcliffe was clearly disappointed and vowed to hit the road running in recruiting and said that he challenged his team to make the plays necessary in the coming season to win the close ball games. Duke could have been in a bowl game had they closed on a few close games this season but a they say, so close, yet so far away.
The Blue Devils will need to work hard in the off season and get bigger across the fronts to turn the corner but it's a challenge Cutcliffe seems to want to take on. Only time will tell if Duke will be better next year but with the returning cast of players and redshirt freshman ready to play, there is reason for optimism. But then again, there was reason for that this season as well.
We'll recap the season in the coming week and take a look ahead, so check back in with BDN.
Sean Renfree spoke with Blue Devil Nation on the eve of the Duke at North Carolina game says it is their super bowl.,
Duke secondary standout Ross Cockrell took time to talk to Blue Devil Nation about the upcoming game with arch rival North Carolina this weekend. "It's our super bowl, " said Cockrell.