The Duke Blue Devils open their ACC season this Saturday when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets visit Wallace Wade Stadium. Linebacker Kelby Brown addressed the media where he talked of being aware of chop blocks and the challenge ahead.
Duke Football kicks off it's 2013 football season this Saturday afternoon versus North Carolina Central University at 4:00 in Wallace Wade Stadium Today, players addressed the media for the last time and Blue Devil Nation, soon to be Devils Sports Beat was there to get player thoughts. Check out what Anthony Boone, the Devils starting quarterback had to say -
It's that time of year again folks! Duke Football is less than twelve days from kicking off their 2013 season against North Carolina Central in Wallace Wade Stadium. It'll be a 4:00 start. Inside the locker room, the Blue Devils are where most teams are this time of year mentally: they're anxious to compete against someone other than a teammate.
Coach David Cutcliffe has ushered in many changes since his arrival in Durham, with the main boost being facilities upgrades. Those upgrades were on display this past Saturday during Meet the Devils Day, where fans could meet and interact with players, and pick up some autographs and pictures along the way.
The event was held in the Paschal Field House, which is the new practice facility, so it allowed fans to see the new digs first hand. Having observed the changes surrounding the program in an up close and personal way through our coverage, I can tell you that the differences are like night and day from when Cut and company arrived on the Methodist Flats. Players quickly pop to their assigned areas in practice, and there is a definite sense of togetherness and focus. Trust me when I say this: there will be some more bumps in the road along the way, but a foundation is finally in place and as a result, Duke recruiting continues to get better each season. Better recruiting of course leads to better results on the field.
In the coming seasons we'll be seeing the removal of the track and a new press box, not to mention an upgraded concourse which will connect to Cameron Indoor Stadium. Some of us used to say we wanted to see these kinds of things happen before we die. Well, I'm not dead yet, and it is just great to see the administration finally dedicating the necessary support for these important steps to be taken.
Duke players, coaches, and fans had a ton of fun going to the Belk Bowl last season, despite losing it in heartbreaking fashion. But let's face it: to make another bowl game this season, Duke will need to take another step forward -- this one being winning games that are regarded as toss-ups on paper. Many fans are falling into the trap of thinking Duke will be a favorite over teams they defeated a season ago, like Wake Forest and Virginia. Even without Florida State and Clemson on the schedule this year -- which is nice -- you could make a case that ten games could fall into that toss-up category. Duke has to start winning some more of those.
But if the Blue Devils struggle in those games, and the record suffers, it is important for the fan base to focus on the big picture. That big picture consists of a program that undoubtedly is moving in the right direction.
Duke can and will win some games this season, but keep in mind that it wasn't that long ago when the Devils struggled simply to compete at this level. It takes time -- a lot of time -- for a foundation to solidify.
For me, I will enjoy attending the opener like any other person who follows the program. It will be a new team, breaking in a new starting quarterback and replacing some really good players who graduated off of last year's squad. It will be interesting to see which players step up and how they handle the inevitable adversity which comes to all teams. I can tell you that these players are hungry for a win after losing every game since their rollicking and most satisfying victory over arch rival North Carolina a season ago, a win which landed the Victory Bell back in Durham.
One of the things Coach Cutcliffe has mentioned on several occasions this off-season is how much the fans helped Duke defeat North Carolina at home. We live in an age in which every move a team makes is televised in some way, but attending the games with some good old-fashioned live support makes things happen. Fan support is one of the most important elixirs when it comes to winning, so in a sense the fan base and team are in this thing together.
And should the Blue Devils make it to another bowl, it will not likely be right down the road as it was in Charlotte last year, so fan turnout and continued support will be even more important. A season ago in their close loss to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, Duke drew some very solid ratings on ESPN. The team got a taste of something special and fans' thirst for a bowl game was quenched. But everyone left wanting more. And that's a good thing.
The truth of the matter is that the program is not at a place where you can count on a bowl game just yet, but these Blue Devils are in a position to compete in every game on their schedule this season and with some luck and good play, they could take their fan base bowling again.
But one game at a time is the way to get it done. Game One: Duke will take on NCCU at Wallace Wade on August 31st at 4:00. Tickets are still available through GoDuke.com.
One of the key things to watch this pre-season is which wideouts step up to fill the void left by the departed Conner Vernon. Blue Devil Nation spoke with Max McCaffrey about that earlier today as Duke Football opens practice for the coming season.
A lot of pre season buzz suggests you will have to step into Conner Vernon's role from a season ago. Are you prepared for that?
I feel prepared for it and there is no pressure. Conner was a good role model and he helped prepare me and I have been able to ease in having played last season.
How is your game different from Conner?
I think we are a lot different actually. Conner was a great player but I am just excited to go out and play. He was good at the deep ball and where he would use his speed to break off of the defenders, I use more of my body to do so.
You've had family members attend or that are familiar with Duke ...
I have had a lot of family members come to Duke and they've all been happy with my decision. My younger brother was a recruit here too, and my Dad and all are real supportive.
Do you deal with mental pressure in trying to fill roles open from a season ago?
I don't necessarily feel pressure but it is definitely another role and I feel like I need to produce now. So I need to imprint the guys below me and try to start becoming a leader for this years team.
You have caught balls from Sean Renfree and Boone. How do the two differ?
Boone and Renfree are definitely two different quarterbacks. I think Boone can make plays that aren't necessarily there in the running game. I am used to passing with him in that he's the player I was paired with in practice a lot last season, so I am looking forward to see what will happen this year.