Category Archives: Duke Football

Duke at UNC Preview

I will say it! Duke opens their ACC season with their archrival North Carolina in a scheduled game that continues to buck tradition past. In short, they are playing this game way too early. Well, that is not likely to change due to TV contracts and such, so here we are in an early-season matchup of rivals.

Duke has rebounded wonderfully winning three games in a row since their disturbing upset loss to Charlotte. On the other side of things, North Carolina came into the season overhyped and comes in at a surprising 2-2.

Before the season started the Tar Heels were picked first in the Coastal Division while the Blue Devils were picked dead last. Duke has benefited from a very manageable early-season schedule while the Tar Heels have already lost to two division opponents in Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

The conventional thinking here is that the Tar Heels will take out their angst when the Blue Devils visit Chapel Hill at high noon this Saturday. Vegas has installed them as a 20 point favorite over Duke and some think that is not enough.

Duke hopes to keep the Tar Heels offense off the field with its running game. But for that to work, they will need some success through the air. The Tar Heels will try to steamroll the Blue Devils in blitzkrieg fashion and they have been known to run up the score in the series when allowed to do so.

We will learn a lot about these two teams this weekend. Duke is clearly rebuilding while North Carolina is supposed to be at the top of the league via big time recruiting.

Two things can happen here. Duke can play better than some think per the odds and frustrate the Tar Heels into rushing things. Or, North Carolina can right the ship where everything goes right for nothing cures ills like stomping your rival.

Either way, both teams will still have plenty of questions to answer no matter the outcome.

From a Duke perspective, fans want to see the team play with heart and if things go south, they want to see them maintain the spirit. From the other side of things, the Tar Heels seem to be in "no quarter," mode and nothing but covering that 20 point line is acceptable.

I do think Duke will show up, but that does not mean it will be enough against a more talented roster.

The Pick is - North Carolina 42 Duke 20

Cutcliffe, Duke Ride Momentum vs Kansas

The Duke Blue Devils hung on a week ago for a 30-23 win over Northwestern for the second consecutive win of the season. This week the Blue Devils welcome Kansas with hopes of making it three in a row before the ACC schedule begins next week at North Carolina.

That first paragraph shares that if Duke is caught looking ahead against its arch-rival; they could be caught off guard by the Jayhawks that are a 16 point underdog.

This may well be the last game Duke is favored in this season. If the future games would be played today the team would in fact be the underdog in all the games down the stretch.

That means the Blue Devils need to take care of business for wins are vital in keeping everyone happy. Luckily for Duke, the Jayhawks are not especially good but this is a team capable of playing well if they're taken lightly.

We are sure to see a heavy dose of running back Mataeo Durant on the Duke side of things and Kansas will counter with their quarterback Jason Bean who leads the team in passing and rushing.

Should Duke get a commanding lead, I expect them to play a lot of players keeping everyone fresh for the following week and trying to ward off injuries to key players.

The pick here is - Duke 35 Kansas 19

Duke Hopes to Upset Northwestern

The Duke Blue Devils got back to their winning ways downing North Carolina A & T a week ago. David Cutcliffe called the dogs off in the fourth quarter after a mostly forgettable first quarter where the Duke defense could not get off the field.

This week Duke faces another program that deals with getting kids in under high academic standards and one which is also somewhat rebuilding. Something must give for this game is very important to both squads in dire need of a positive direction.

This is not an especially intimidating Northwestern squad. They opened with a thud losing to Michigan State at home but recovered a week ago and has an identical 1-1 record as the Blue Devils.

The Blue Devils have not looked especially consistent either. They struggled running the ball versus a team that supposedly had less talent but came out with the win as their depth showed up late in their win over the Aggies.

I will save you the great details on what to expect from each team and simply say that while this is a winnable game for Duke; I still think they're the clear underdog.

The reason for that assessment is the play of the defense or lack thereof. You cannot find consistent playmakers or leaders on this side of the ball after two contests. They do not pressure the quarterback and sack him nor do they create turnovers. The only way Duke wins is if they improve quickly with both issues.

While the kicking game has been a strength there are just too many question marks for the Blue Devils for me to pick them to win. And it is not like Northwestern does not have a ton of their on for they do. Still, I just think the Wildcats will find a way to be more physical and take the victory.

The pick and I hope I am wrong is - Northwestern 31 Duke 20

(Season record 1-1)

A & T at Duke Chatter & Preview

Let's face it. Last week's start to the football season was a disaster for Duke which went to Charlotte for an expected win and came home with a sobering loss. It is not the start that a cash-strapped program with seven home games on the upcoming schedule could afford. Coming off a disturbing upset loss Duke is looking to rebound against another suddenly dangerous opponent in North Carolina A & T.

In other seasons the Aggies would be considered a win and are scheduled to be such. But this year the Duke football team looks especially fragile early on and if they cannot find a victory this weekend, they may not find one at all against an increasingly difficult schedule.

Taking the pulse of the fanbase it is clear that many feel this could be the last season David Cutcliffe hawks the sidelines in Durham. That is not something in which I take pleasure in saying for he brought bowl games to Duke and turned the program around.

I stated late last year that there had been a slow leak in the program of late and the start of this season reaffirms that there has been a drop-off in recruiting, player development, and finding the right coaches who fit each position.

Before I go further, Cutcliffe and Duke can flip the script with what many consider winnable games against the Aggies, Kansas, and Northwestern all at home. In fact, the future of Duke football rides on these three contests in my humble opinion.

Should the Blue Devils look awful in these games and win one or less of the contests, I think the writing is on the wall for an impending change. And Duke would be better served getting a search going.

New Duke Athletic Director Nina King will almost assuredly be making a move unless the team shows immediate life and some form of stability.

As of yet, the program seems ill-prepared for the coming NIL or new era of football. There has quite simply been noticeable regression. In fact, the only reason Duke did not hit the infamous ESPN Bottom 10 this week is that they ranked the ACC on the whole at number four.

You will not find too many people in the media that does not respect and like Coach David Cutcliffe. He has earned his respect but he is losing what he built of late and that quite simply means the much-dreaded sentence. Duke is once again rebuilding.

The Blue Devils cannot allow another chance of a rare victory in a season when the roster is young and depleted to slip by. One must keep in mind Duke lost star staters to other schools in the offseason from a 2-9 team, so expectations were low, to begin with.

Duke has been labeled a 21 point favorite over the Aggies who are coming off a loss to Furman. But beware, A & T has immense pride and they have a storied history. It was not long ago they shocked East Carolina on the road and yes, if the cards fall right, they can beat Duke.

The Blue Devils should win this game. They must win this game if Cutcliffe is to right the ship. And yes, this is an absolute must-win.

I have not studied the Aggies as I did the 49ers a week ago. I hinted in that preview Duke could lose that game and it surely happened in a shocking, disappointing style that left many embarrassed.

The reason for that is that the program is a bit fragile at this time where they are getting little separation from starters to subs in some cases. They need an influx of talent or to develop some kids better going forward.

If by the end of this evening we do not have some new names to talk about making plays at Duke, the pressure only increases.

It is hard to pick against a 21 point favorite in Duke at home. They are or should be desperate. They should go all out in this game. And they should be able to win against their level of competition if they are to play like an ACC school. But Duke is now at the bottom of a down ACC in football.

The question nobody asked David Cutcliffe this week is how the program got to this point. What are the reasons and can they be corrected? Right now, most people are starting to think this might be the end of an era simply from the inability to maintain a modicum of success in the much-important wins department.

I personally hope Cutcliffe can find the answers needed. But I do not see the foundation for that at this time. And I am not sure if the answer to the future is within the program. He is the man in charge and he makes good money to do so in an acceptable way. So, it is on Cutliffe how this all turns out.

So, yeah, the next three contests in my opinion will be the final tell-tale. I would like to think the players and staff will respond but only time will tell.

The pick this week is Duke 38 A & T 22

I am 0-1 on the season and 0-1 ATS. A season ago, I went 9-2 and 10-1 ATS. The season prior 9-3 straight up and 10-2 ATS, so I am off to a bad start too.

**There are plenty of good seats available to tonight's 8:00 game which unveils new concessions, alcohol, and other changes. Masks are required in Wallace Wade Stadium.

Duke in the NFL Schedule

DURHAM – Eleven former Blue Devils were named to 53-man rosters in the National Football League (NFL) in advance of the first week of the regular season which kicks off Thursday.

The list of Duke's professional players includes NFL veterans Breon Borders (Tennessee Titans), Ross Cockrell (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Jamison Crowder (New York Jets), Thomas Hennessy (New York Jets), Daniel Jones (New York Giants), Lucas Patrick (Green Bay Packers) and Laken Tomlinson (San Francisco 49ers).

In addition, rookies Michael Carter II (New York Jets), Victor Dimukeje (Arizona Cardinals), Noah Gray (Kansas City Chiefs) and Chris Rumph II (Los Angeles Chargers) also were named to 53-man rosters for their respective squads.

After competing in the preseason, rookies Mark Gilbert (Pittsburgh Steelers), Devery Hamilton (Las Vegas Raiders) and Deon Jackson (Indianapolis Colts) as well as veterans Joe Giles-Harris (Buffalo Bills) and Matt Skura (New York Giants) were signed to their respective organizations' practice squads.

#DukeInTheNFL Week 1 Schedule
Ross Cockrell
Thursday, Sept. 9
Dallas at Tampa Bay, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

Chris Rumph II
Sunday, Sept. 12
Los Angeles Chargers at Washington, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Michael Carter II, Jamison Crowder and Thomas Hennessy
Sunday, Sept. 12
New York Jets at Carolina, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Breon Borders and Victor Dimukeje
Sunday, Sept. 12
Arizona at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Laken Tomlinson
Sunday, Sept. 12
San Francisco at Detroit, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Noah Gray
Sunday, Sept. 12
Cleveland at Kansas City, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)

Daniel Jones
Sunday, Sept. 12
Denver at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

Lucas Patrick
Sunday, Sept. 12
Green Bay at New Orleans, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)

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.