Tag Archives: Duke Football

Five Join Duke Football for Spring Semester

 DURHAM, N.C. – Five student-athletes – Zamari EllisCasey HolmanGunnar HolmbergJeremiah Lewis and Jack Wohlabaugh – have joined the Blue Devil football program, head coach David Cutcliffe announced on Wednesday in conjunction with the beginning of Duke’s spring semester.

Ellis, a 6-4, 240-pound tight end from Henderson, N.C., is a consensus three-star prospect and rated as the No. 27 tight end in the nation by Rivals.com.  The No. 27 tight end in the country by Rivals.com, was named to the 2016 USA Today N.C. all-state first team before missing his senior campaign at Southern Vance due to a foot injury.

Holman, a 6-4, 285-pound offensive lineman from Snellville, Ga., was a first team all-region pick by the 7-AAAAAA coaches as both a junior and senior. During his final campaign, Holman, from Brookwood High School, was named the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year and led Brookwood to an 11-3 record, including a 6-0 region mark to win the Region 7-AAAAAAA title.

Holmberg, a 6-3, 180-pound quarterback from Wake Forest, N.C., is a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 26 pocket passing quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com.  He set the Heritage High School single-season records with 2,730 passing yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior while leading the Huskies to a 12-2 record and a berth in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A state quarterfinals.

Lewis, a 6-0, 180-pound cornerback from Plano, Texas, helped Prestonwood Christian High School to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) Division I state championship game three times, claiming the title twice including the 2017 crown. In his final high school game, Lewis and the Lions rallied from 18 points down in the third quarter to defeat St. Pius X, 42-41, to claim the program’s fifth TAPPS state title.

Wohlabaugh, a 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman from Akron, Ohio, spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Ohio State University before transferring to Duke. An Academic All-Big Ten selection following the 2017 campaign, Wohlabaugh will sit out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer regulations and have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2019. He did not see game action in his two seasons with the Buckeyes.

Duke finished the 2017 campaign with a 7-6 overall record including a 36-14 victory over Northern Illinois in the Quick Lane Bowl. The bowl game appearance marked the Blue Devils’ fifth in the last six seasons. Duke will open the 2018 season on September 1 at home against Army West Point.

Duke Rights The Ship With Bowl Win

The Duke Blue Devils dominated Northern Illinois in the Quick Lane Bowl to come away with a 36-14 victory and a winning season.    Duke quarterback Daniel Jones was named MVP of the game accounting for 338 yards of total offense,

But it was the defense which set the tone for a victory and finishing the year with three consecutive wins.  Duke had jumped out to a 14-0 lead and it looked as if the team had the game in the bag.  But Northern Illinois would get two quick scores which tied the game up at 14-14.

You could not help but wonder at that time if Duke would regain momentum.  After all, they had experienced a six game losing streak before gaining two ACC conference wins to close the season and propel them to a bowl.

The losing streak was as much mental as it was getting the job done on the field.  But on this day, Duke showed that lessons were indeed learned.  The team would shut out Northern Illinois the rest of the way.

Duke went up at the half on a wide open Jones to TJ Rahming touchdown pass and catch that went for 33 yards.  After a botched extra point, Duke would toughen on defense and score again on a Jones to Shaun Wilson pass but a two point attempt failed.It w

Still, Duke took a solid lead of  26-14 into the locker room and the defense showed the ability to stop big plays.  While not a clean first half, it was a substantial lead to work with.

The Huskies would never challenge again.  Duke went into ball control mode in the second half and would shut out their opponent  When the dust cleared, Duke had outscored Northern Illinois 22-0 since the game was tied including a 10-0 advantage in the final two quarters.

The Duke players celebrated by dousing head coach David Cutcliffe with Gatorade and then accepted the trophy which save the season.  Duke had against all odds righted the ship late in the season and came away with a bowl win.

The program can now say that it has been to bowl games in five of the last six seasons.  And there is suddenly momentum to work with in the off-season.  While Duke will lose some key senior players who went out in style, they return a strong contingent of personnel.

The seniors were able to go out on a winning note, while the returning players will likely learn from the taste of defeat that was sandwiched in the middle of the year,  Lessons will be learned and the players departing left getting Duke back on track with a bowl win.

Duke will begin spring practice at the end of March this coming year.  That time has been pushed back from seasons past.  Duke will return 7 starters on offense and 8 on the defensive side of the ball but will have to replace the punter and the kicker as well.  Duke will open the season at home with Army.

About Duke vs Northern Illinois

About Duke vs Northern Illinois

The Blue Devils have been invited to play in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, Michigan against Northern Illinois on December 26th, 5:30 on Ford Field.  Duke is quite happy to get an invite for a few weeks ago they were mired in a losing streak that was nothing short of depressing.

But in the what have you done for me lately department; Duke has won two ACC games in a row in grand fashion.  They can now gain some much-needed experience via extra practices for young players.  Those reps will bode well for the future and a game plan for Duke is at its best when they have time to devise a scheme.

Duke got an unexpected tough opponent in Northern Illinois.  The Quick Lane Bowl is happy the Huskies fell here in that they now have what should be a competitive game.  Had Duke been paired with Akron, they would have been heavy favorites.

What we get in the Huskies is a physical team that looks very similar to Duke on paper.  Each team has a running back with similar numbers and a solid defense.  The Huskies led the MAC in defensive points allowed by a wide margin over most teams.

The Huskies also bring recent success and tradition.  In short, Duke must prepare well and for a physical game.  They may have an edge in the speed department but Norther Illinois went into Nebraska and won this season -- something any team would have a difficult task in doing.

But Duke did beat what is considered to be the best team in Illinois in Northwestern.  In fact, they throttled the nationally ranked Wildcats before suddenly losing their team identity.

As for the Huskies, they were one of two 6-2 (8-4 overall) teams in the MAC's best division.  Their losses came on the road to Central Michigan and conference champ Toledo.  They played Boston College to a 3 point game in their opener before tripping up in that game.  The other loss came on the road at ranked San Diego State, meaning no bad loss.

Duke left points on the field against Army, Virginia and Pitt and squandered their best chance in years to beat Florida State.  But they discovered something in recent weeks and salvaged their season.  It is called good old-fashioned offense and being aggressive on that side of the ball.

While Detroit gets a bad rap in the press, the fan hotel is said to be nice which is linked in our previous article -

Duke Football to Quick Lane Bowl

The game will also be played near a very popular district in Detroit which features many restaurants close by.  And did I mention the Hotel has their own casino?  Meanwhile Ford Field is a nice venue and the sponsors seem more than welcoming to fans,

It will bode well for Duke to play on artificial turf which better suits team speed.  The last time Duke Football played in Michigan was 1978 by my recollection under then coach Mike McGee against the Michigan Wolverines.

Per my memory, Duke has only played MAC teams twice in their long history.  That was two wins over Ohio in 1985 and 86.  This will obviously be the first meeting between Northern Illinois and Duke.

There is a Dave Doeren connection at play.  The N.C. State head man was at the school and led them to an 11-3 record and conference title in his first season.  His 2012 team vaulted to No. 15 in the BCS Standings, which led to a first-ever appearance in a BCS bowl game, the 2013 Orange Bowl against Florida State, which they lost 31-10.  Doeren was hired by the Wolfpack the very next day, but it was current coach Rod Carey who coached in that game.

Northern Illinois has won 10 conference and three division titles, appeared in 13 Division I-A and College Division bowl games in their MAC history,  Rod Carey took over for Doeren and led the Huskies to four west division titles from 2012-15.  He was also a part of an NCAA high at the time 26 game home winning streak.

Some good news for Duke is that the Huskies are on a four game bowl losing streak.  The bad, is that they will not be distracted by the bowl surroundings staying in a Midwest bowl and playing in a venue they are familiar with,

The Blue Devils now return to a bowl game after a one year hiatus.  Duke is 1-3 under head coach David Cutcliffe in bowl games.  They broke through in their last win -- an overtime victory over Indiana in the Pinstripe Bowl.  Previously, they lost three games that were all within reach.

Duke has been labeled an early 2.5 favorite with an over/under of 48.5



Where will Duke go Bowling and who will they play?

Where will Duke go bowling and who will they play? Here is my guess...

The Duke Blue Devils defeated Wake Forest 31-23 to become bowl eligible today.  I checked in with my best sources and have the most likely destinations and the opponent which they may play.

Here is a breakdown of the three possibilities and the likely opponent.  My best guesses are -

Walk On's Independence Bowl on December 27th Shreveport, Louisiana - Duke (6-6) vs Kentucky (7-5) Payout $1,200,000 each

A match up of basketball giants who have turned their football programs around in recent years.  Missouri is a possibility here.  With the lack of eligible SEC teams, this matchup could be a long shot.  Middle Tennessee or a Conference USA team is in play.

Military Bowl by Northrup Grumman at Navy Marine Corp Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland - Duke (6-6) vs Navy (6-5) Payout $1 million each

Navy will be playing Army before this game.  Duke fans would attend this game in the D.C. area.  UVA could be attractive with concern to attendance,

Quick Lane Bowl on December 28th in Detroit Michigan - Duke (6-6) vs Purdue (6-6) or MAC Team Payout $1,200,000 each

An ACC vs Big 10 matchup at Ford Field.  An upstart Purdue team would face the Blue Devils.  Another possibility would be a MAC team such as Central Michigan or Akron.  The current feel is that this will be the Blue Devils destination but some politics are in play so we will wait and see.


Duke seeks bowl eligibility in regular season final

Win and they’re in.

The Blue Devils will travel to Winston-Salem on Saturday in search of their fifth bowl in the last six seasons. A sixth win will be no easy feat, as the Demon Deacons, led by senior quarterback John Wolford, just knocked off #25 NC State a week ago.

Wolford has put together an impressive final campaign for Wake Forest, leading the ACC in passer rating while also adding 10 touchdowns on the ground. The Demon Deacons sit at 7-4 and look to improve their bowl resume with a win over their in-state rival. Containing Wolford and the read option offense will be a challenge for a Jim Knowles’ defense playing without two starters in LB Ben Humphreys and S Jeremy McDuffie. With that being said, the Duke defense has played well enough to keep this team in almost every game on the season, and Saturday should be no different.

Daniel Jones and the Blue Devil offense, however, have been far from consistent. After an impressive 4-0 start to September, Duke fumbled their way through a six-game losing streak where they averaged just 12 points per game. As Coach Cutcliffe alluded to this week, “it’s not been any one thing...sometimes it's protection, route running, dropped balls, inconsistency of the run game.” Yet, somewhat inexplicably, Jones and the offense exploded for 43 points last week against Georgia Tech, and here they sit, on the cusp of bowl eligibility. Last week’s effort is a true testament to the Duke coaching staff and senior leaders, who have continued to work and believe in this group despite their struggles.

Beyond the obvious, there are a number of interesting storylines to this matchup. Both Cutcliffe and Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson have done commendable jobs at their respective institutions, and it is no surprise that both names have been associated with the current opening in Knoxville.

Wake Forest boasts a 2-0 record against North Carolina schools this year, with wins against Appalachian State and NC State. Duke enters the contest also with a 2-0 in-state record against NC Central and North Carolina. As such, an unofficial state championship and bragging rights are on the line Saturday. Amazingly, the Blue Devils are 15-3 in their last 18 match-ups with in-state schools.

These two teams have played a number of memorable games over the past several seasons, though the Blue Devils have won four of the last five. With what’s at stake for both teams, this season’s finale should be well worth watching.

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.