Tag Archives: Wallace Wade

Football Friday: Mythbusters

You still haven’t joined BDN Premium? Man, you’re missing out!

collapsing the distinction between the exasperatingly silly and the charmingly naughty...

...delivers plenty of wit, verve and surreal mayhem to entice…

A piece of fluff as artificially sweetened as a fuchsia Peep…

Thanks to its fondness for smushing together seemingly incongruous elements…is just demented enough to deliver a fleeting sugar rush... [private]

Surprisingly, those were the reviews for the movie Hop, not Football Friday, but I sure would have been honored. Oh well, I don’t let the critics read my column, anyway. We start on two down notes today, but we'll rally down the home stretch.

Tornadoes hit the South this week, including this massive twister just outside Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL.


Deadly storms in the South

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the strong storms and tornadoes that tore through the South on Wednesday, claiming nearly 300 lives. Neighborhoods and communities have been severely damaged and destroyed. It will take many months to piece back together the lives of the families affected, and there are many noble organizations that have quickly mobilized relief efforts. Please consider donating your time, money, goods, blood - whatever you can - to help those in need: American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, among many other deserving national and local groups. Head Coach David Cutcliffe, an Alabama native, will assist with a Time Warner Cable Recovery Drive today at 4 PM.

Anita Caldwell passes at age 103

There are only a select few who could honestly lay claim to the title "Duke Football's Greatest Fan," and Mrs. Caldwell would make the short list. The widow of former Duke Assistant Coach Herschel Caldwell, who came to Duke as an assistant one year before Wallace Wade, Mrs. Caldwell passed away this week on her 103rd birthday. A remarkable woman, Mrs. Caldwell missed only two Duke football home games in the past 77 years. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Good Samaritan Fund, c/o Duke Memorial United Methodist Church, 504 W. Chapel Hill Street, Durham, N.C., 27701 or to The Discretionary Fund, c/o Father Bert Eaton, St. Peters by the Sea, P.O. Box 337 Swansboro, N.C., 28584.

Recent visitors on campus

Colorado WR Max McCaffrey, son of former NFL WR Ed McCaffrey and nephew of 1991 Duke National Champion Billy McCaffrey, was in Durham recently.

In today’s recruiting, it’s a rarity for a prospect to commit to a school sight unseen. Thus, getting a prospect on campus for an unofficial visit, whether it’s for a game, a junior day, a summer camp or just a campus tour, is an important component of the recruiting process. In the world of emails, texting, and Facebook, there’s still no substitute for seeing coaches, players, and facilities in person. Even though spring practices are well behind us and the spring evaluation period is underway, three key prospects have been on campus over the past week.

Max McCaffrey: the 6’2” 180 pound wide receiver prospect from Highlands Ranch, Colorado made the trip to Duke with his mother recently. The son of former NFL and Stanford WR Ed McCaffrey, Max is also the nephew of former Duke men’s basketball player Billy McCaffrey, who transferred to Vanderbilt after the 1991 National Championship. Max and his younger brother, Christian (a rising sophomore running back) will look to lead Valor Christian to their third state championship this fall. Max currently has scholarship offers from Duke, Wake Forest, and Arizona State.

Eric Olson: Coach Luke would love to continue his success in recruiting talented offensive linemen, and Olson would certainly fit the bill. An athletic 6’6” 265 pound prospect from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Olson also played basketball briefly for Buckingham Browne & Nichols (per BDN’s Andrew Slater). Olson was on campus last weekend for an overnight visit, just a month after visiting for Duke’s spring game. Olson grew up a Duke basketball fan and the Blue Devils remain a major player in Olson’s recruitment, even though he is now up to 8 offers, including Boston College, Connecticut, Virginia, and Wake Forest, with interest from Northwestern and Stanford.

Dan Beilinson: If it’s good to get a prospect on campus for a visit, then it has to be very good to get a prospect on campus frequently. There are a handful of North Carolina prospects who have been frequent visitors to Wallace Wade Stadium, and the 6’5” 220 pound tight end Beilinson is one of them. Out of nearby Panther Creek in Cary, Beilinson has focused his visits so far on the three Triangle schools, and has developed a close relationship with the Duke staff. With some added weight, Beilinson has the tools to be a complete tight end that could thrive alongside current 2012 commit Erich Schneider in the Blue Devils’ prolific passing offense. The talented athlete already has five scholarship offers, including Duke, NC State, and Vanderbilt, with interest from Auburn, Florida, North Carolina, and Wake Forest.

Deconstructing some myths about Duke Football

Have you ever seen that show “Myth Busters?” I haven’t. I don’t even know what channel it’s on. If it’s any good, let me know. Anyway, most of us here at BDN, myself included, like to keep our fingers on the pulse of all things Duke athletics. Though happily entrenched here at BDN, I will admit that I occasionally do lurk on other free message boards to try to obtain some insight into the hearts and minds of Duke fans, especially when it comes to Duke football. As a self-admitted eternal optimist when it comes to Duke, it can be tough to read some of the unfounded criticism that is out there. That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of room for criticism – when your last bowl game was in 1994, there’s obviously a lot of things wrong with the program. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day. For those who have followed the program through the bad times, it’s hard not to see that things are heading in the right direction. I apologize in advance for my ranting, but I have to vent about some of the things I’ve heard and read recently about Duke football. Let’s take a look at some of the less-than-factual criticism from some of the more impatient Duke football fans:

Coach Cutcliffe has senior Donovan Varner and the Blue Devils expecting to win in 2011-GoDuke, Duke Photography


1. Coach Cutcliffe always speaks in hyperbole, creating unrealistic expectations.

First of all, what college head coach doesn’t? It’s basically in the job description. In Coach Cutcliffe’s case, he inherited a program defined by its culture of losing. Before you can succeed, you have to believe you can succeed, and that mentality has to be embraced throughout the program – from the administration to the coaching staff to the players to the fans. There’s no question that Coach Cutcliffe has done a remarkable job of changing the culture at Duke, to the point that coaches, players, and fans expect Duke to win games. Perhaps the best indicator of this is the incoming recruiting class of 2011 – several players have told BDN that they’re coming to Duke not just for the education or the chance to play football, but they plan on winning an ACC Championship. As for this year’s squad, when asked about the Blue Devils’ 2011 bowl chances, Cutcliffe said, “I don’t think there’s any question we’re at that level. We don’t have a huge margin of error just yet, but not anybody does, for the most part.” With a potent, veteran offense and a young, athletic defense, that sounds like a pretty fair assessment.

2. Duke has not been recruiting 4- and 5-star talent.

The correct criticism here is that Duke has not been bringing in 4- and 5-star talent, but it isn’t from a lack of effort. In the class of 2010, the Blue Devils offered at least 3 5-star prospects and 38 4-star prospects (and secured an initial commitment from LB Aramide Olaniyan). In 2011, Duke offered at least 4 5-star prospects and 51 4-star prospects (and nearly landed TE Cam Clear). While the class of 2012 rankings have yet to be released, Duke is going up against national powers for some of the top recruits and appears to be holding their own in at least a few cases so far. There’s no question that Duke needs to land some of these commits, and winning games will go a long way to helping that cause.

3. Duke has focused too much on regional recruiting.

There are two things wrong with this presumption. First, focusing on regional recruiting is probably the right thing to do. The majority of football players don’t go to school far from home, so it makes sense to spend a significant amount of time building relationships and recruiting within a home region. Let’s look at the number of in-state players on the rosters of four private schools that many love to compare Duke to:

Duke: 28%

Northwestern: 27%

Stanford: 37%

Vanderbilt: 12%

Wake Forest: 29%

If you expand those percentages to within a region (Midwest, Southeast, West Coast), they grow even larger, but it’s clear that Duke is not over-emphasizing in-state players relative to other schools. The in-state numbers are also similar when comparing the incoming class of 2011:

Duke 25%

Northwestern: 29%

Stanford 26%

Vanderbilt 24%

Wake Forest 19%

The second problem with the presumption is that it’s simply wrong. Less than one-third of the roster is from in-state, and with regards to recruiting, let’s look at the top states represented on the recruiting board, which contains only the players Duke actively recruited, from the past two years:

2011: AL (10), FL (37), GA (19), NC (50), NJ (7), OH (20), PA (8), SC (11), TN (11), TX (15), VA (14)

2012: CA (11), CO (5), FL (22), GA (16), MA (5), MD (10), NC (39), OH (23), PA (5), SC (12), TN (12), TX (6), VA (6)

Those numbers indicate to me that Duke is recruiting where the talent is, but by all means, please check my math.

There's excitement back in Wallace Wade Stadium - it's time to get on board the Duke Football bandwagon.


4. It’s still the same old Duke.

Bottom line, the talk of rebuilding our football program is getting tiresome to many fans, but progress is being made. The university has invested in the football program (check out our new indoor practice facility – sah-weet!) and fans are trickling back in to Wallace Wade Stadium, as season ticket sales have steadily increased. Even with a 3-win season in 2010, the Blue Devils have won more games under Coach Cutcliffe than they did in the previous 8 seasons (12 wins 2008-2010, 10 wins 2000-2007). No one is more tired of the talk than the players and coaches, who are ready to produce results on the field. Behind a strong offensive line, a solid stable of running backs, an All-ACC receiving corps, and arguably the best returning QB in the conference, this Blue Devil team has high hopes for the fall. There’s no question that the next step is to put together a winning season, and I can’t wait to find out if this Blue Devil team is tough enough to do it.

Seems like a good note to end on. WE ARE DUKE.


Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs Alabama Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0) roll into Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday, for a showdown with the Duke Blue Devils (1-1), in a contest that has everyone associated with Duke football giddy with anticipation. Alabama is the number one team in the nation and the winner of 16 straight games. The odds makers have the Crimson Tide as a 23 point favorite. The game will be televised by ABC Sports and will also be available on ESPN3 with kick-off scheduled for 3:30 pm EDT.

Blue Devil Nation is urging all Blue Devil fans in the area to show up and support the team on Saturday afternoon. Alabama has a dedicated traveling fan base and a sea of red will be present in Durham so the Duke faithful need to counter with a Blue Out in support of our Blue Devils. Duke has installed temporary bleachers behind the open end zone and in various locations along the concourse so break out your blue and head over to Wallace Wade Stadium for a fun filled afternoon of college football.

Duke in Week 2

Duke suffered a disappointing 54-48 defeat at the hands of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons last Saturday. Turnovers and big plays plagued the Blue Devils on a rainy afternoon in Winston-Salem. A fumbled snap on a punt and three intercepted passes resulted in 21 points for Wake Forest which was too much for Duke to overcome.

Duke is ranked number six in the nation in passing offense and number nine in total offense. Wide receivers Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner and Austin Kelly are the headliners in a deep and talented receiving corps. The three have combined to catch 44 passes for 584 yards in Duke’s first two games.

Running back Desmond Scott is averaging 99.5 yards rushing per game, which is tops in the ACC.

Alabama in Week 2

Alabama is coming off a dominating performance in a 24-3 drubbing of the Penn State Nittany Lions, after beating San Jose State 48-3 in their season opener. Alabama has not allowed an opponent to score a touchdown so far this young season, which is why they possess the number one ranked scoring defense in the nation.

Against Penn State, Alabama rolled up 409 yards of total offense with running back Trent Richardson carrying the ball 22 times for 144 yards and a touchdown. Senior quarterback Greg McElroy added 229 passing yards including two touchdowns. McElroy has the fifth highest quarterback rating in the nation at 191.12.

The Crimson Tide offense will receive an extra boost with the return to action of 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram who sat out the first two games recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He is currently listed as day-to-day, but is expected to play on Saturday. Ingram rushed for 1658 yards last season.


Duke cannot turn the ball over! Alabama’s potent offense can grind out possessions with Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram running the ball behind their big physical offensive line so providing Alabama with extra possessions by turning the ball over would be fatal.

The offense must play to their full potential by executing the game plan on every possession. Saturday is one game day the offense needs to be flawless. It will be imperative Duke convert third downs into first downs in order to sustain drives and allow their defense to stay off the field. Keeping Alabama’s offense off the field by dominating time of possession is an effective defense.

To dominate time of possession, Duke must run the ball at times. Desmond Scott is averaging 99.5 yards rushing per game and has broken two long runs for touchdowns: 63 yards against Wake Forest and 34 yards against Elon. True freshman Josh Snead has not broken a run into the secondary yet, however, with his speed he will surely break free for a couple of long gainers before the year is out.

Taking advantage of Alabama over pursuing on defense with designed cutback runs and misdirection plays will force the Crimson Tide to address our threat to run and open up the passing game for Sean Renfree to throw the ball to wide receivers Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner, Austin Kelly, and tight ends Brett Huffman, Brandon King and Cooper Helfet.

On defense, Duke must contain the Alabama running game and force McElroy to beat the Blue Devils by throwing the ball. McElroy has a quarterback rating of 191.12; however, he has only thrown the ball 40 times this season, which is less than half Sean Renfree’s 83 attempts. Forcing the outcome of the game onto McElroy’s ability to successfully throw the ball down the field gives Duke an advantage.

Just like Duke cannot afford to give Alabama’s offense extra possessions, Alabama cannot afford to give Duke’s potent passing attack extra opportunities to score points, so a turnover or two would benefit the Blue Devils tremendously. Duke is averaging two interceptions per game and if the secondary can come up big on Saturday it would go a long way toward Duke containing Alabama’s offense.

Duke will need their special teams to be special. With good kicking and kick coverage, Duke can force Alabama to play the full length of the field. The opposite is equally true. Duke must excel on kick and punt returns to shorten the field for the offense. If Duke allows Alabama to play on a short field, it will increase the difficulty of containing the Crimson Tide offense.

In summary, Duke must commit no turnovers, convert on third down, control the clock by sustaining drives, run the ball enough to keep Alabama’s defense honest, focus on containing the Alabama running game, force Alabama to make mistakes, and be special on special teams.

BDN Prediction

This is a golden opportunity for Duke football to show the entire nation it is ready to return to the big stage under Coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils will move the ball and score points on the Crimson Tide but, in the end, Alabama will prove too talented and deep for Duke to handle. The BDN staff consensus pick is Alabama 51, Duke 22 in a game which will send a warning shot across the bow of future Duke opponents. Duke may come up short in this game but the Blue Devils will prove they are a team that can move the ball and score points against any defense in the country, and when a team can score points they are always a dangerous adversary.

Duke DB Matt Daniels prepares for the Alabama Crimson Tide

Duke DB Matt Daniels strikes a pose for BDN Photo

DURHAM, N.C. - As Durham prepares for an invasion of Crimson clad Alabama fans, the Duke Football team met with the media today.  BDN caught up to defensive back Matt Daniels and he discussed the opportunity that playing the countries top rated team afforded the Blue Devils.

Just press play -