Category Archives: Duke Football

A Problematic Start for Duke Football

Those who cover Duke Football closely knew this season could be problematic. But many of them did not envision a loss in-state school Charlotte.

Duke football has been the brunt of many a joke over the years but David Cutcliffe halted that for a good long while taking Duke to bowl games.

Somehow, someway Duke has come full circle under Cutcliffe. They have returned oh-too close to the fragile program they once were in the ways of producing wins.

It is never a good sign when players who were slated to be stars this season elected to finish their college football careers elsewhere.

Losses like the one to Charlotte hinder recruiting as well, especially within the state. Duke is mired in a recruiting cycle which only brings in three-star or less talent with no occasional four stars of late.

That is fine if you develop the talent but that has not been happening. For instance, the last standout wideout Duke produced was Jamison Crowder and Duke is on its fourth starting quarterback in as many years which does not help.

It seems like when for example the defensive line gets shored up, a leak springs elsewhere. One leak is fixed and two more pop up. Rinse and repeat with other position groups. Coaches have been moved from position to position each season of late showing a lack of continuity and finding working solutions.

Nobody expected a winning season this year in Durham. Duke was picked dead last in the ACC's Coastal Division by everyone. But what some hoped to see was signs a rebuild could take place again and solidify the foundation of the program.

Last night's loss to Charlotte was anything but what one wanted to see. Somewhere along the line, the program got fat and happy with some success and now they are showing no immediate signs of maintaining progress or getting back to winning ways.

Conventional wisdom tells us that this was just one game. Some will say, teams, improve from week one to week two. Duke may well improve but the pace at which it is happening of late is depressing to the fanbase.

Duke committed a lot to upgrade football facilities and many had visions of Duke Football continuing to ascend at the time it happened. But what we have seen is the program go from south to north to south again under Cutcliffe.

A look around social media shows dismayed fans, people cracking jokes and the like. Duke just doesn't look like a team from the ACC right now and if they were not entrenched in a league this would be bad news in an ever-changing college athletics landscape.

Duke committed a single error in the loss but that is all it took to send this group to 0-1. But the maddening thing is has any player ever set a school rushing record only for his team to lose?

Watching the Duke defense not being able to disrupt any facet of the game was tough. Seeing Duke get outplayed badly to start the first and third quarters is a sign of a team not being ready to pounce. And watching the 49ers roll down the field like Alabama is haunting.

But for all the Blue Devils troubles on the field, there are areas of strength. The program graduates its players and there is a good character within the staff.

In some years, doing things right as this staff does would be enough. But in today's NIL world of changes, the Blue Devils suddenly seem rudderless or unprepared to step into the future.

The schedule in the coming weeks will allow Duke to compete and maybe garner some wins, but down the stretch, this team is not built to have success with the meat of the ACC schedule or maybe even compete.

Many were curious to see what Duke would look like last evening. What we got was a disjointed effort which points to a lack of continuity. This has been and likely will continue to be a problem for the ills are plentiful.

Duke at Charlotte – Preview

Duke walloped Charlotte a season ago on Halloween eve and that was the last time the program won a game. The Blue Devils ran out to a 24-0 lead with their ground game leading the way. After being thumped in that contest many think the 49ers have their hearts set on revenge in the season opener.

The 49ers have a revamped secondary and defense where they have several new starters. This will be the first time Charlotte has hosted a Division I team at home so you can expect a standing-room-only crowd to see if they can pull off the upset.

Charlotte is led by veteran quarterback Chris Reynalds who has a go-to receiver in Victor Tucker and both are pre-season all-conference selections.

All eyes on Gunnar Holmberg

The last time Gunnar Holmberg started a football game was in a high school not too far down the road from Durham in Wake Forest, N.C. That was 2017. He has yet to throw a touchdown pass or tested himself at the collegiate level. Should he struggle Duke could too. Having been named a team captain Holmberg has earned the staff's trust but can he manage an entire game behind center in his first outing?

A big part of the gameplan

Expect Duke to try and establish their run game early and they will stick with it if the 49ers cannot stack the front which will likely be their intent.

If this happens Gunnar Holmberg who will be the fourth opening-day starting quarterback for Duke in as many seasons will need success through the air.

There are a lot of things to watch for on Friday including the play-calling responsibilities where Requan Boyette and Jeff Farris take over the duties for Duke as Cutcliffe returns to managing the team on the whole.

If the Duke signal caller struggles and Duke cannot run the ball effectively there could be an upset where the 49ers are a mere 6.5 point underdog. And this is where the Duke defense has to help. Of course, said defense hopes the offense does not turn the ball over the record-setting pace of a year ago.

The Blue Devils need to discover some playmakers on the offensive end this season to have sustained success. Especially since the defense is thin in the front.

The good news for Duke is the special teams look solid with Porter Wilson and Charlie Ham are seasoned veterans. That is one area of the game where it was clear David Cutcliffe felt most confident in his Monday talk with the media.

Duke is going to get a good effort from Charlotte and they'll need to be on top of things and remain aggressive through adversity. A lot of intangibles can come into play if Duke does not execute out of the gate. If the 49ers hang around early, this game could be closer than some might think.

Should Duke come away from the opener with anything other than a win; it'll be a long season. But the real pressure will be seeing if they can clean things up from a season ago by not turning the ball over. The Blue Devils will also look to get back to winning habits and solidify the program's foundation in what looks to be a rebuilding season.

The pick - Duke 34 Charlotte 24

Duke Names Football Captains

DURHAM – Duke head coach David Cutcliffe announced Sunday the naming of Jake BoboDeWayne Carter and Gunnar Holmberg as team captains for the 2021 season. 

The three returning lettermen were elected by their teammates.

In 32 career games, including 13 starts, Bobo has recorded 52 receptions for 647 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to his offensive duties, the senior wide receiver has seven punt returns for 41 yards and one kickoff return for 19 yards. A native of North Andover, Mass., the 6-5 target boasts 13 games with 20-plus receiving yards, including a career-high 70 yards at Syracuse in 2020. Bobo also hauled in a career-high six receptions at N.C. State that season. 

Carter, a sophomore from Pickerington, Ohio, is competing for a starting defensive tackle position. In 14 career games, including one start, he has recorded 12 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and one sack. Carter posted a career-high four tackles at Virginia in 2020 and got into the backfield for assisted sacks against Georgia Tech and Florida State. In addition, Carter holds one career reception for 11 yards on a fake punt at Georgia Tech. 

Holmberg has completed 18-of-25 pass attempts for 161 yards (.720) with two interceptions and has rushed 24 times for 28 yards (1.17) with one touchdown in seven career games. The graduate student and Wake Forest, N.C., native recorded a career-high seven pass completions for 71 yards against North Carolina in 2020.

Duke begins its season on Friday, Sept. 3 at Charlotte. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

Season tickets are available online at www.GoDuke.com/FootballTix or by calling the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at 919-681-2583.

ACC to Join Alliance

GREENSBORO, NC & ROSEMONT, IL & SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 today announced an historic alliance that will bring 41 world-class institutions together on a collaborative approach surrounding the future evolution of college athletics and scheduling.

The alliance – which was unanimously supported by the presidents, chancellors and athletics directors at all 41 institutions – will be guided in all cases by a commitment to, and prioritization of, supporting student-athlete well-being, academic and athletic opportunities, experiences and diverse educational programming. The three conferences are grounded in their support of broad-based athletic programs, the collegiate model and opportunities for student-athletes as part of the educational missions of the institutions. 

The three conferences remain competitors in every sense but are committed to collaborating and providing thought leadership on various opportunities and challenges facing college athletics, including:
•    Student-athlete mental and physical health, safety, wellness and support
•    Strong academic experience and support 
•    Diversity, equity and inclusion
•    Social justice
•    Gender equity
•    Future structure of the NCAA
•    Federal legislative efforts
•    Postseason championships and future formats

The alliance includes a scheduling component for football and women’s and men’s basketball designed to create new inter-conference games, enhance opportunities for student-athletes, and optimize the college athletics experience for both student-athletes and fans across the country. The scheduling alliance will begin as soon as practical while honoring current contractual obligations. A working group comprised of athletic directors representing the three conferences will oversee the scheduling component of the alliance, including determining the criteria upon which scheduling decisions will be made. All three leagues and their respective institutions understand that scheduling decisions will be an evolutionary process given current scheduling commitments.

The football scheduling alliance will feature additional attractive matchups across the three conferences while continuing to honor historic rivalries and the best traditions of college football.

In women’s and men’s basketball, the three conferences will add early and mid-season games as well as annual events that feature premier matchups between the three leagues.

The three conferences will also explore opportunities for the vast and exceptional Olympic Sports programs to compete more frequently and forge additional attractive and meaningful rivalries.

The future scheduling component will benefit student-athletes and fans by offering new and memorable experiences that will extend coast-to-coast, across all time zones. The competition will bring a new level of excitement to the fans of the 41 schools while also allowing teams and conferences to have flexibility to continue to play opponents from other conferences, independents and various teams from other subdivisions.

“The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 recognize the unique environment and challenges currently facing intercollegiate athletics, and we are proud and confident in this timely and necessary alliance that brings together like-minded institutions and conferences focused on the overall educational missions of our preeminent institutions,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips. “The alliance will ensure that the educational outcomes and experiences for student-athletes participating at the highest level of collegiate athletics will remain the driving factor in all decisions moving forward.”

“Student-athletes have been and will remain the focal point of the Big Ten, ACC and PAC-12 Conferences” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “Today, through this alliance, we furthered our commitment to our student-athletes by prioritizing our academics and athletics value systems. We are creating opportunities for student-athletes to have elite competition and are taking the necessary steps to shape and stabilize the future of college athletics.”

“The historic alliance announced today between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten is grounded in a commitment to our student-athletes,” said Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff. “We believe that collaborating together we are stronger in our commitment to addressing the broad issues and opportunities facing college athletics.”

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences include:
•    World-leading academic institutions committed to the shared values of supporting the next generation of leaders.
•    Innovative research that benefits communities around the world.
•    27 of the 34 Autonomy 5 members in Association of American Universities (AAU).
•    34 institutions ranked in the Top 100 national universities by US News & World Report.
•    Broad-based athletic and academic programs.
•    A long heritage of leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion.
•    Over 27,000 student-athletes competing on 863 teams in 31 sports.
•    A combined 1,019 NCAA Championships.
•    Longstanding relationships across bowl partnerships, men’s and women’s basketball challenges and Olympic Sport events.
•    194 Olympic medals won in Tokyo by current, former and future student-athletes.
•    Some of the most iconic and historic venues in college sports.
•    Hundreds of millions of dollars in direct annual institutional support of student-athlete scholarships.
•    Over $15 billion in annual federal research support, nearly one-third of the total across all colleges and universities. 

Quotes from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 CEO chairs:

Duke University President & Chair of the ACC Board of Directors Vincent E. Price
“The alliance is first and foremost a statement about the vital connection of academic excellence to college athletics.  Our members include 41 of the top public and private universities in the world which will soon have new ways to compete at the very highest levels in sports, and to collaborate in education, research and service to society.  Together we will be able to use our strong voice and united vision to create the best possible experience for our student-athletes and institutions.”

University of Wisconsin Chancellor and Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) Chair Dr. Rebecca Blank:
“The Big Ten Conference has always prioritized academic excellence as well as athletic excellence for student-athletes. Today’s announcement reinforces the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness among all members of this alliance and provides additional opportunities for our student-athletes to enhance their collegiate experience.”

University of Oregon President & Chair of the Pac-12 Board of Directors Michael Schill
"The Pac-12 is thrilled to join with so many world-class universities in a collaborative effort to support our student-athletes through an unwavering commitment to excellence in academics and athletics.  Together we can help shape a future for college athletics where broad-based athletic programs in concert with educational opportunities allow us to support the next generation of leaders."

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ACC COVID Game Reschedule Policy


GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com)
 – The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today its 2021-22 COVID-19 Game Rescheduling Policy and several key updates to protocols within the league’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group (MAG) Report.
The COVID-19 Game Rescheduling Policy, which was approved by the league’s athletics directors, applies to football, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball.
2021-22 ACC COVID-19 Game Rescheduling Policy
In the sports of football, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball:

  1. If a 2021 ACC game cannot be played on its originally scheduled date by a team unable to play due to an insufficient number of available players related to COVID-19, that team shall be deemed to have forfeited, with a loss assigned to the team unable to play and a win assigned to its scheduled opponent, with both the loss and win, respectively, applied to the conference standings.
  2. If a 2021 ACC game cannot be played on its originally scheduled date due to any factor(s) directly associated with a Game Discontinuation Consideration as listed in the current ACC Medical Advisory Group (MAG) Report, the Conference’s sport rescheduling policy shall apply.
  3. If a 2021 ACC game cannot be played on its originally scheduled date due to both teams being unable to play due to an insufficient number of available players related to COVID-19, both teams shall be deemed to have forfeited, with a loss assigned to both teams and applied to the conference standings.

Updated ACC Medical Advisory Group Report
The updated MAG report includes accommodations for vaccinated individuals and institutional discretion to relax mitigation strategies based on team vaccination rate.
The updated report is the latest from the ACC Medical Advisory Group and follows a 2020-21 academic year in which the conference completed regular-season and postseason championship competition (where applicable) in each of its 27 sanctioned sports. The ACC has adhered to the guidelines put forward by the MAG, which has met frequently since May 14, 2020, to share information related to the impact of COVID-19 on college campuses and the return of college sports.
“The ACC’s Medical Advisory Group continues its tireless efforts to deliver meaningful protocols that will provide a healthy and safe environment for our student-athletes and teams,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips. “As a conference, we are extremely proud of the significant progress and overall high rates of vaccination among student-athletes, coaches and staff. The continued resilience, commitment and sacrifice by our student-athletes is inspiring, and we look forward to watching them compete at the highest level.” 
The MAG is comprised of an individual from each member institution and includes a cross-section of infectious disease experts, public health experts, campus student health experts, team physicians, athletic health care administrators and a mental health expert. 
“The Medical Advisory Group has adjusted protocols based on the lessons learned last year, the availability of vaccines and the current state of the pandemic,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, Chair of the ACC Medical Advisory Group and member of the infectious disease division at Duke University Medical Center. “We will continue to work closely with local public health to ensure our protocols and efforts are synchronized. Just like last year, there may be a need to adjust as the pandemic evolves and we will be prepared to do so in the best health interests of our student-athletes.”
While fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to participate in a surveillance testing regime under the latest revisions, testing must still be administered to unvaccinated student-athletes, coaches and sport support staff who have significant interaction with student-athletes, individuals designated in a team’s travel party and anyone else who is in regular close contact with student-athletes, as determined by the institution. 
Unvaccinated individuals on a team with a vaccination rate less than 85 percent, must be tested a minimum of three times per week with a molecular (PCR) test. Unvaccinated individuals on a team with a vaccination rate at or greater than 85 percent, must be tested once per week. Additional testing of unvaccinated individuals is at the discretion of the institution.
Teams that have a vaccination rate of 85 percent or higher among their student-athletes, and have no active cases, may relax mitigation strategies around team activities (e.g., spacing/masking in meetings, at meals, while traveling). In all sports, the masking of any individual, vaccinated or unvaccinated, (student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, non-coaching personnel, officials) permitted in the team bench area or within the playing enclosure will be at the discretion of the home institution.

2021 Duke Football Schedule Released

DURHAM, N.C. – Seven total home dates and four contests against 2020 bowl game participants highlight the 2021 Duke football schedule released on Wednesday by the ACC office.

The Blue Devils kick off their season Saturday, September 4, on the road at Charlotte. Duke is then scheduled for three straight home games when North Carolina A&T (Saturday, September 11), Northwestern (Saturday, September 18) and Kansas (Saturday, September 25) come to Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium for non-conference matchups. 

Duke shifts to ACC play to begin the month of October when it heads to North Carolina on the 2nd.

The Blue Devils then will host Georgia Tech (Saturday, October 9), before hitting the road again at Virginia (Saturday, October 16) and Wake Forest (Saturday, October 30). Duke's open date will be the week of the 23rd.

The Blue Devils close out the 2021 season with three-of-four home contests. Duke first welcomes Pittsburgh on Saturday, November 6, before traveling to Blacksburg, Va., on Saturday November 13 for its final road test at Virginia Tech. Louisville (Thursday, November 18) and Miami (Saturday, November 27) then make their way to Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium to wrap up the regular season.

Information regarding season and single-game tickets will be announced at a later date.

2021 Duke Football Schedule (2020 Record; Bowl Game)
SEPTEMBER
4   – at Charlotte (2-4)    
11 – NORTH CAROLINA A&T (playing in spring, 2021)    
18 – NORTHWESTERN (7-2; Big Ten West Champions; defeated Auburn, 35-19, in the Citrus Bowl)    
25 – KANSAS (0-9)

OCTOBER
2   – at North Carolina (8-4; lost to Texas A&M, 41-27, in the Capital One Orange Bowl)    
9   – GEORGIA TECH (3-7)    
16 – at Virginia (5-5)    
23 – Open date    
30 – at Wake Forest (4-5; lost to Wisconsin, 42-28, in the Duke's Mayo Bowl)

NOVEMBER
6   – PITTSBURGH (6-5)
13 – at Virginia Tech (5-6)
18 – LOUISVILLE (4-7)
27 – MIAMI (8-3; lost to Oklahoma State, 37-34, in the Cheez-It Bowl)