Spring is in the air around Wallace Wade Stadium as football practice begins for the 2013 season. One of the things sure to grab more than a little attention this spring is the battle at quarterback. Anthony Boone is currently penciled in as the Duke starter but spirited practices lie ahead and he'll have to earn his job. During todays' press conference at Duke, David Cutcliffe said that Boone was a natural born leader and that he felt he adjusted well in the opening practice. Blue Devil Nation caught up with Boone for the following video interview -
The Duke Blue Devils are preparing for their journey to Blacksburg this weekend and BDN caught up with RB Juwan Thompson and LB David Helton to get their thoughts on the opportunity.
The Duke Blue Devils pushed their season record to 2-1 with a 54-17 victory over in town rival, North Carolina Central University in the Bull City Classic. The Blue Devils were the beneficiary of two late turnovers which broke the game open after a 41-17 lead which at the time looked as if it might stand. Duke was very banged up coming into the game and used a lot of players as the game progressed against their out manned opponent.
One of those turnovers led to a Ross Cockrell 32 yard interception return for a touchdown. Cockrell had two picks on the game.
Sean Renfree threw for three touchdowns on 25 of 35 attempts for 280 yards. One of his passes went to Isacc Blakeney for his first career TD pass and one each to Jamison Crowder and Josh Snead. Back up quarterback Anthony Boone accounted for another TD pass to give Duke four for the game. His pass went to walk on tight end Jack Wise who like Blakeney caught his first career TD pass as well.
Duke ended the game with 128 yards rushing but they struggled early on and most of those yards came from true freshman Jela Duncan who ran for 5o yards on six carries. Duke put up 408 yards of total offense while Central gained 337 which could be seen as a moral victory for the Eagles.
The bottom line is it wasn't always pretty but by games end, thanks to said turnovers, the Blue Devils final margin of victory was a bit more impressive than it's overall performance on the evening. But a win is a win and it was a good win and one where they can build off the performance after watching film. The crowd of 22,829 was a bit of a let down as well, especially on what most would consider a perfect night for football.
The Blue Devils are now 2-0 at home and the margin of victory was the largest in the Coach Cutcliffe era at Duke.
The biggest thrill of the night for many beyond the victory itself, was the return of Blair Holliday who was on the field before and during most of the game. Holliday is recovering from a serious injury in a boating accident and this was his first appearance since that tragedy.
Duke will next take on a winless Memphis team in Wallace Wade Stadium with a 6:00 kickoff next Saturday. Stay tuned for post game videos on Blue Devil Nation and a highlight tape tomorrow.
Ross Cockrell and Conner Vernon established themselves as true playmakers in the Blue Devils 46-26 win over Florida International. Hear them talk about touchdowns and records on BDN post game video -
The Duke Blue Devils held their last talk with the media before Saturday's season opener with Florida International, and BDN caught up to cornerback Ross Cockrell and offensive lineman Takoby Cofield for a chat. With Matt Daniels having moved on, Cockrell will be expected to bring leadership to this year's squad, and Cofield will be key in taking on the tough Panthers defensive ends.
Injury-plagued Blue Devils face test up front in opener
The Duke Blue Devils will kickoff the 2012 football season this Saturday when they take on a very solid Florida International Panthers team in Wallace Wade Stadium. While the team has improved in many areas under Coach David Cutcliffe, injuries leading up to the game have been unsettling. As of today, the Blue Devils will be without several key projected starters, including receiver Blair Holliday, linebacker Kelby Brown, tight end Braxton Deaver, safety Jordan Byas and defensive lineman Jamal Bruce. They may also be without linebacker David Helton, who is listed as day-to-day. What this all adds up to for Duke is a serious lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball. This could really matter in this game as the Devils go up against a team that will push the tempo under new offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey. Cramsey's "pedal to the metal" approach will force Duke to go to many unseasoned backups as the game progresses and the front line guys start to wear down.
While the defense will have its hands full preventing big plays, an area that Duke clearly needs to improve upon over last season's performance, the offense faces a stiff challenge as well. The Panthers' defensive front is solid and very deep, so all eyes will be on an improved Duke offensive front, and whether it can give senior quarterback Sean Renfree enough time to work with a bevy of new and unproven wideouts. Duke did move senior Desmond Scott from running back to wide receiver, and he is capable of making big plays once he gets the ball in his hands. But until a strong second receiving option steps up, you can bet that All-ACC wideout Conner Vernon will see nothing but double teams, and it will be tough to get him the ball.
The Scott move may seem odd, as he is the last Duke player to rush for 100 yards in a game. But this could be indicative of Duke's depth and talent at the running back position, where the Blue Devils have two veterans in Juwon Thompson and Josh Snead and two talented newcomers in Jela Duncan and Sheldon Bell.
So when the ball kicks off around 7:00 this Saturday night to open the season, watch the battle in the trenches where the game could be won. Click here for more on FIU depth on their Defensive Front.
Interviews with Duke Prospects on the way
We'll start to roll out interviews from the Under Armor Elite 24 this afternoon, starting with Duke Basketball recruiting prospect Austin Nichols followed by 2014 stud PG Tyus Jones. There are lots of happenings with hoops recruiting, so join BDN Premium for full site access and don't miss any of it.
Let's face it, we all want to see the Duke football team bowl eligible and ESPN's Heather Dinich has the Blue Devils playing in the Military Bowl. The Blue Devils face a very tough schedule this season, so that is some serious optimism for Coach Cut and company. So are any of you starting to realize how much pressure there is for Duke to win its opener?
Good turnout needed for Duke
It's Duke Employee Day at Duke for the home opener against Florida International and the Blue Devils will need solid fan support to defeat a team coming off two straight bowl seasons. Let's have a great turnout where the home crowd helps lift the team to victory. It has all the makings of being a very tense and competitive game, so don't miss it.