Tag Archives: Duke Football

Monday Musings – The Victory Bell Edition

Welcome to another week of Monday Musings.

Victory Bell -- it's a Duke thing.

How to Enjoy the Victory Bell

Hey Blue Devil Nation!  Yall are feeling good out there after Duke Football pushed their record to 4-0 with a win over arch rival North Carolina this past Saturday.  Of course, that means the Victory Bell will remain in Durham, so lets take a look at how and when to enjoy the moment.

Firstly, the Victory Bell is the gift that keeps on giving.  What I mean by that is it plays well all year.  There are of course bragging rights and as David Cutcliffe likes to refer as grocery store wars.  It is a known fact that one team color or another appears the following Sunday with concern to which blue wins.

But where the rivalry trophy helps most is in recruiting.  Duke Football has now won 15 of their last 18 games against opponents from the state of North Carolina.  In fact, of the Tar Heels last six games played, the Blue Devils have defeated them twice.  This means that the bell hangs around in Durham for better than a year now or longer.

The bell will be in the Bryan Center on the Duke Campus today, so go over and give it a ring while visiting the bookstore.  While at the bookstore, buy you a shiny new Duke Football shirt.  You will need that to wear at the Miami game this Friday night.

But, Monday is not only for musings.  It is about letting go at the end of the day.  Duke fans and team alike has to play it forward for we can all come back and see the bell once more work is done.  Of course, Duke fans will in no way be opposed to hearing the bell ring this Friday evening in a game nationally televised on ESPN.  Heck, maybe Duke should offer each fan a ring who buys a ticker between now and then with a promotion.

A Quick Look Back

The president, AD and Cut.

We all know that Duke ended the first half on a bad note where they could have had a mildly commanding lead. Instead, the teams were tied at the half after two long Tar Heel completions after a botched field goal.   UNC would take the lead in the 2nd half as their sideline was seen going nuts.  Heck, you can't blame them for they certainly have had injuries and such.

But when the Tar Heels were celebrating, the Duke sidelines were quiet.  No, not moping and such, but quiet in a confident way.  While the Blue Devils struggled a bit with the passing game, the running game showed up again.

Duke goes to 4-0 and owns the Victory Bell after a 27-17 win over North Carolina.

Shaun Wilson gave Duke the lead where he had to enter the end zone twice and those would be the winning points.  But the Tar Heels were driving when senior leader "Call me Mr. Fields" broke on the ball for a long heartbreaking interception for a touchdown for those in Carolina Blue.

Duke fans were seen being giddy and the cheerleaders animated in what seemed like a slow motion play.  Oh, and there were some key blocks which made the run possible as well.  After sitting in a scorching sun all day long, Blue Devil faithful were a happy bunch.

The scene on the sidelines was of course, nice.  Duke University president Vincent Price and athletic director Kevin White were on the sidelines having come down from their seats.  They were see congratulating David Cutcliffe on his milestone 100th victory as a coach.

Call me Mr. Fields or the heart breaker.

Cutcliffe would then hug on his daughter as ESPNU interviewed him in the post game.  Bryon Fields would mug for the cameras as well as the player of the game.

Some Blue Devils came over to ring the bell as they came off the field.  Injured linebacker, Ben Humphreys was one of the first where he seemingly clanged out his frustration after what looked to be an intentional chop block set up on him as time wound down.

But most of the Blue Devils went straight to the locker room and players would soon follow with the bell.  They didn't run it in the faces of their opponents but ones inside the locker room, you heard plenty of joy from a key win.

Next Play

Victory Bell

Duke will now take on a highly rated Miami team picked to win the Coastal Division.  And they are loaded with speed and talent, trust me on that.

The Blue Devils have to put the UNC win in their rear mirror for they have a short week of preparation.  Heck, Cutcliffe and his staff have just two games to watch video on the Hurricanes in that games were cancelled due to the weather.

This means Miami will be quite fresh and itchy to play more football. Duke has places 27th in the country in both polls this week and an upset win would land them in the rankings.

The Blue Devils are offering Durham residents discounted tickets and the team not only needs, but deserves your support.  This is a big time game on a Friday evening which gives fans Saturday off.

I will see you on Friday.

Duke Goes to 4-0 With Win at UNC

Duke goes to 4-0 and owns the Victory Bell after a 27-17 win over North Carolina.

The Duke Blue Devils scored 14 points in the 4th quarter as they defeated arch rival North Carolina 27-17 in Chapel Hill.  The win earned coach David Cutcliffe his 100th win as a college coach.  Make no mistake about it, the Victory Bell remaining in Durham for another year shows how much the program has been.   It is a source of pride for players and coaches alike and helps on the recruiting trail.

The 4-0 Blue Devils took the lead in the 4th quarter on a Shaun Wilson one yard touchdown plunge.  Shortly thereafter, Bryon Fields sealed the game on a 61 yard interception return of a Chazz Surratt pass.  It was the 4th interception for a touchdown by Field in his career.

Duke played an error free game and save a 56 yard Surratt dash, they once again played shut down run defense.  That forced North Carolina to go to the air and in a close game like the one today, it took just one turnover to swing the game.

"A lot of really good things happened on that field," said Cutcliffe and he was right.  This years Duke team is cool under game pressure and they fought until the end earning a hard-fought win.

Duke close the first half on a sour note.  After a botched field goal, North Carolina star of the future Chazz Surrant completed two deep passes to Anthony Ratliff, one for a touchdown.

The Blue Devils had a chance to take a nice lead into the locker room but instead found themselves in a 10-10 deadlock.  But some teams would have allowed that momentum to continue, but Duke did not.

Brittain Brown led Duke is rushing with 92 yards on just 10 carries. Shaun Wilson added 56 yards (102 all-purpose yards) and Daniel Jones 45 yards for 186 net yard rushing.  Wilson has now scored a rushing touchdown in four straight games.

Daniel Jones was at times pressured  but played a mistake free game, throwing for 202 yards and a first half scoring play to tight end Davis Koppenhaver.

Jones biggest pitch besides to touchdown came late in the game to T.J. Rahming (6 catches, 73 yards).  The Blue Devils also went for a 4th and one in their territory in the 3rd quarter which led to a Austin Parker 24 yard field goal.

Duke will have little time to enjoy this victory in that they now face nationally ranked Miami this coming Friday night in a games televised by ESPN.  The Blue Devils have now put themselves in contention for the division crown and a win in this game would get the nation talking.

The Blue Devils have now won 15 of their last 18 games against opponents from the state of North Carolina.  Duke has already matched its total win total from a season ago. Duke has now scored 162 points to date this season which ties the record for the second most in any one season.

In closing, some of the Duke players stopped to ring the ball after the game.  But they did not linger long and most of the guys ran to the locker room with the bell in tow.  Once inside the locker room, you could hear the joy and the bell was indeed in play.

Cutlciffe Talks Duke Football

David Cutcliffe

The Duke Blue Devils are coming off a solid 41-17 win over Northwestern.  With the win, the team now stands 2-0 on the young season as they prepare for Baylor.  Here is a general recap of what we heard from David Cutcliffe today.

Stay Aggressive and Consistent

If there is one message Cutcliffe and staff are trying to hammer home to the team it is to remain aggressive and consistent.  Earlier in the day center Austin Davis said that a season ago the team was not as strong up front and that the goal in the off-season was to be better in that area from the start.  So far, this season, the teams offense has been much better by being more aggressive.  The same goes for the defensive front which is getting better pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Cutcliffe is Expecting Temple

With so little film to go on from Baylor, Cutcliffe said he had watched what Temple did a season ago.  He is also well aware that the Bears are changing quarterbacks in Zach Smith.  Their starter Anu Solomon is on concussion protocol but a change seemed to be in the works despite that.   Smith had success starting the last four games a season ago which included a 31-12 win over Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.  Cutcliffe also said that defensive backs look forward to the challenge when they face a good passer and Smith is a pro style back.    It is clear though, that the Duke coach has respect for Baylor despite their rocky start even going as far as to say their athletes have track like speed.

1's vs 1's

The Duke coach also state that the team was practicing with the 1st team units going against each other.  This is being done in an effort to protect the ball,  Cutcliffe said his ball handlers were getting hit quickly after getting the ball in practice in an effort to teach them what to expect.  Duke has flirted with turnovers in both of their early season wins.

Special Teams Work

Duke also worked on individual player assignments in the punting game and on special teams.  They broke down the process on film and expect Austin Parker to have a better effort his week after a sub par experience in the win over Northwestern.

The Focus is on Duke

Duke is also focusing on what they can control, meaning their play.  Cutcliffe and his players say the team is always striving for consistency and building on that aspect each week.  "We still see some things we can do better," said Cutcliffe.

Duke Football Faces Brutal Early Schedule

Duke plays the 22nd toughest schedule in the country per Phil Steele.

With kickoff a mere twelve days away, Duke football is hard at work on the practice field making final preparations.  The Blue Devils open the season against cross town rival North Carolina Central where they will be heavily favored.

While David Cutcliffe is not one to look too far ahead of that match up, he has aware of the most challenging opening schedule in his tenure lies ahead.  In the weeks following the game with the Eagles, Duke will face Northwestern, Baylor, arch rival North Carolina on the road and then Miami.

Here is a look at how this staunch early challenge could play out.

September 2nd - NCCU at home

Firstly, one must respect the Eagles who went to a bowl game last year.  There are a lot of questions here in how Duke will let this game play out.  Do they get their starters lots of snaps or develop talent should they be fortunate enough to gain a comfortable lead?  On one hand you need to develop depth but you also need to make sure the offense is clicking.  Make no mistake, for Duke to go back to a bowl game this season it will be in part because the offense improves.  The team needs to average no less than another touchdown per game in 2017 for that to happen.

September 9th - Northwestern at home

A David Cutcliffe coached Duke football team has yet to beat Northwestern and this may be a tough year to end that streak.  The Wildcats chart in at 31st in the opening A.P. poll.  They are picked 2nd in their division in the Big Ten pre season poll and they return 16 starters which includes a terrific and veteran offensive team.  This is the kind of team you do not want to allow to score first, for when this happens they tend to win.  This game will be a big jump in competition for Duke from week one and we'll have the first measuring stick on where the Blue Devils stand early in the season.

September 16th - Baylor at home

So Baylor has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late, but they are still quite good.  The Bears will be hard to prepare for in that they have a new coach and system.  They have a physical and big defensive front and a stable of running backs listed as the 2nd best in the Big 12.  As always, they can score in bunches.  While they lost some recruits due to sanctions, the program was on solid footing before that meaning they are talented enough to be considered a possible Top 25 team.  Duke will be coming off a physical game with Northwestern as they kick this game off around noon.  The bottom line is anything less than a split with Northwestern and Baylor will create a losing record going into the game with...

September 23rd North Carolina in Chapel Hill

How is this for an ACC opener?  The Tar Heels will want to get the victory bell back in this rare early season series draw.  Duke is likely to be banged up a bit after facing very good Northwestern and Baylor teams.  Nobody really knows what to expect from the UNC offense which will be a bit different, but there are a lot of returning starters on defense and a bolstered offensive front via the transfer route.  You just don't want to lose your ACC opener to a division rival, so expect some early season haymakers to be thrown by both sides.

September 30th Miami in Durham

Okay.  So Duke is now coming off their emotional match up with UNC only to face the team picked to win the Coastal Division in nationally ranked Miami.  The fans and team will be challenged to catch their collective breath during this brutal September stretch. The Hurricanes are loaded with talent and is a team that has their swag back.  Oh, and did I mention this game will be played on a Friday evening giving Duke a day less to heal and prepare?

We will sure know what Duke football is about after this incredible stretch of early season games.  It will be a challenge to keep players healthy and fresh.  It will be a challenge to put one week behind you in big time games and move on to the next.

It is not like the schedule gets that much easier past these games. Duke will travel to Virginia, play Florida State coming of their bye week, an always physical Pitt team and then Virginia Tech in Blacksburg before they get their bye week.

They will close the season out with Army on the road, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest in Winston Salem.  The hope is that they can somehow survive the brutal early schedule to be in position to make a bowl game by finishing strong.

Oddly, the only game Duke plays this year less than five hours from campus is at Army.  So that may be a small advantage in a schedule filled with oddities.

So early season success is a must in some ways in order to take the pressure off in later games.  Duke is a better football team this season, but they are young in many areas as well.  With a lot of the players on the roster returning for the 2018 season it would be nice to see the program get back to a bowl game in the 2017 season while building a bright future.

Duke football had been to four consecutive bowl games before a season ago.  The talent is there to start another streak but the schedule is an obvious challenge.  But that is why they play the games and it is time to kick it off.

Season and individual tickets and various other plans are available at the Duke ticket office or by visiting GoDuke.com.  Duke football plays some big time opponents on Brooks Field in Wallace Wade Stadium this season and the team needs local support.  See you at the games!

Duke Football Notebook

Duke Football Notebook
Duke Football Notebook

Football season is coming and fast as evidenced by the fact that the ACC media will gather in Charlotte this week to discuss the 2017 campaign.

Duke hopes to get back to a bowl game again this season and to doing so while possible will be difficult in a tough conference.  The Blue Devils return 12 starters from a season ago and will be a young team at several key positions.

The Blue Devils had been to four consecutive bowl games before that streak was broken a season ago.  Duke is expected to be picked 6th in their division once votes are cast but their fortunes could be better in the Coastal race.

Here are a few pre season notes and information heading into Media Day for the Blue Devils.

Team Strengths

  • Daniel Jones had a break out season after replacing the departed and formerly injured Thomas Sirk at the start of last season.  Jones was thrown directly into the fire and after a slow start showed immense promise moving forward.  Jones will take his first snaps this season with much more experience.
  • The wideouts pretty much return intact and there is more depth at this position than in years past.  Duke has experience at Tight end to go with talented newcomers as well.
  • The offensive line should come together at least where the starters are concerned.
  • The Linebackers are solid with depth in the two-man starter scheme.
  • Coaching should be better as many on the staff had a season to get their feet wet in competition after a year that featured major change.

Team Questions

  • While the offense returns a lot of players on paper, the unit has to score no less than 7 more points from a season ago to compete.
  • The defensive front will build depth as it goes and is very young.
  • The defensive backfield is young as well and will break in new starters.  Having a young unproven front and back is not an ideal situation.
  • The kicking game was abysmal a season ago.  There are some newcomers hoping to help, but the team must find a kicker that can knock down a 40 yard and in FG on a moderately consistent basis.

Other notes

  • As far as freshman who are most likely to start during the season we'll tab WR Scott Bracey Jr. on the offensive side of the ball.  A redshirt freshman has the skill set to compete early on for a starters spot.  On defense, look for true freshman DE to possibly start from day one or after a few games into the season.
  • Duke will also need to build running back depth quickly with two freshman high on the depth chart behind senior Shawn Wilson.
  • Duke will send QB Daniel Jones and DB Byron Fields to ACC media day as team representatives this Friday.
  • Duke opens the 2017 season with three consecutive home games before travelling to North Carolina for an early season ACC opener with its arch rival.