Tag Archives: Duke Football News

Duke Football Notebook #1

Football is in the air as the Duke Blue Devils take to the practice field where they'll prepare for their season opener in South Bend, Indiana against the 10th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

The Blue Devils head football coach, David Cutcliffe, and players addressed the media today via Zoom where they discussed the many challenges ahead. Here are a few thoughts in the first BDN football notebook for the coming season.

Is the Quarterback Position Wide-Open?

If you listened to Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe via Zoom as he addressed the media you might think the quarterback position is wide open. All offseason, incoming freshman Chase Brice has gotten the most hype but Cutcliffe clearly wants competition at the position. He mentioned that Chris Katrenick had shown vast improvement in understanding the nuance of the position and the way it needs to be played at Duke.

He also mentioned his walk-ons and Gunnar Holmberg while saying little of Brice. Reading the tea leaves on this one still tells me Chase Brice is the person the staff trust most but that he and others have to produce not just in understanding the game on paper, but that it must translate to actual play on the field.

I think the ACC's longest-tenured coach is trying to stabilize a solid backup option while continuing to teach the Duke system to the position.

Safety is a Priority

Duke is adjusting to not only new facemask protection but testing and implementing ever-changing precautionary measures with concern to the COVID virus. He is also allowing his players to wear monitors with concern to conditioning and avoiding soft tissue injuries as they work back into shape. He mentioned a concern with his athletes getting back into shape in the summer heat after so many people have spent time inside.

... but the good thing is...

Cutcliffe said that 98% of his players came back in the shape they had hoped. Duke implemented many a session for training via Zoom, and or, other technologies.

Duke Loses Two to Opt-Outs

Curtcliffe shared with the media that OL Jacob Rimmer and long snapper Ben Wyatt have opted out and both have the blessing of the team and university. He also sounded as if both could be replaced and that he had players ready to step up. Considering he has lost just two players thus far I would say that is the best they could have hoped for.

Cut's comments on the whole

He definitely sounded excited about playing football, but he also shared the following. He said today's practice went off pretty well and that they would adjust as they go. He also mentioned that team spirit was high and that he witnessed good habits during the first practice.

Overall, he sounded pleased where his team was at despite being just 36 days out from their opener at Notre Dame. He also said he was pleased with the kicking game and or how they worked. That is big news considering Duke has new players at the position.

Cut also mentioned his veterans three times during the chat where he is pleased to have some experience. He mentioned the offensive line and seemed to hint at battles for the starting spots while developing depth.

Also mentioned was that players are adjusting to him calling plays and that there were some changes on the offensive end. There was little mention of some of the new staff with the exception of Greg Frey, the OL coach.

A Few Schedule Thoughts

Duke more or less replaced Pitt and Miami with Syracuse and Florida State. With the struggles versus Pitt, this could be a good thing or is it? Syracuse blistered Duke in Wallace Wade last season, so we can hope the Blue Devils will seek revenge in the Carrier Dome. Considering Duke whipped Miami and rarely play Florida State, I think this is a good swap for Duke as well. Duke gets the Seminoles in late November for their last game of the season.

The Blue Devils have a program on the rise in UNCC a team that went bowling on the schedule. That may actually be one of the leagues' tougher outside opponents. In-state opponents are always dangerous and this will be the first meeting between the two schools. Duke lost Middle Tennessee State and NC A & T or Elon. One more note, the Blue Devils play UNCC on Halloween on Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Opening at #10 Notre Dame will certainly be a major challenge for Duke and the two teams played not that long ago. But maybe cathing the Irish early is better than late. The Duke program will also have a lot of the nation's eyes on them with this opener and that can be a good thing.

Stay tuned into Blue Devil Nation as the season approaches for our Duke Football Notebooks will continue as we near the opener. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest breaking information and visit our Facebook Group.

Ross Cockrell says team ready to hit someone else

SONY DSCRoss Cockrell and Duke Football are just 13 days away from kickoff and the team held a scrimmage today in preparation.  We caught up to Cockrell after practice who stated the team is ready to hit somebody else.  A reminder, you can meet Ross and his teammates tomorrow and get a team poster and autographs at Meet the Devils Day which will go on sun or shine.  If there is inclement weather, the event will take place in the Paschall Field House, so turn out and support the 2013 Duke Football Team.

No Rainy Days with This Monday – Duke Punter Named All ACC

Will Monday, Duke Freshman, All ACC - Photo, Mark Watson, BDN

DURHAM, N.C. - Several years ago a sugary pop group named the Carpenters had a big hit on the charts called "Rainy Days and Mondays."  The lyrics went like this:  "Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down."  There was a time when that type of gloominess and despair applied to Duke's kicking game, but Will Monday has changed all that.

A couple of weeks ago, Monday, Duke's freshman punter, was in class when a friend messaged him on Facebook telling him he'd been selected to the All-ACC team. Monday was elated at the news. "It's something that has definitely been one of my goals and to win it as a freshman, and it means a lot to me and has helped me achieve one of my goals," he said. But Monday had to admit that he actually was not surprised; in fact, he expected the honor.

That's one of the things I learned about the ACC's best punter during our recent conversation. Monday places very high expectations on himself, and does not consider failure to be an option. To him, being the top punter in the ACC is just a start. What he really wants is to be the best in the entire nation. And it's that kind of confidence in his abilities plus his desire to improve further that should drive him towards his goal of being named 1st team All-American.

The youthful Monday, son of Bedford and Judy Monday, hails from Flowery Branch, Georgia. And when asked who congratulated him first on the all-ACC selection, Monday said, "Well, my parents were very happy for me. They were so excited knowing this is something I had been wanting, to be able to be named the best at your position in my freshman year, and so they were proud of how much I have worked to get this. I got texts from my coaches and high school teammates as well."

Monday was a known commodity coming out of high school, ranked as the best schoolboy punter in most of the recruiting ratings. The expectations that come with those rankings are something he learned to deal with early on, so it was no surprise that he was cool under the pressure of big-time college football, right out of the gate. "I felt pressure in high school. I felt pressure in camps and I felt pressure when I got here. But it is not something I am not used to and I have always put expectations on myself to succeed and be the best I can at every opportunity. So while it is challenging, you have to keep your head up and move on to the next play."

Standing 6'4" and weighing in at 210 pounds, Monday is not likely the butt of kicker jokes. In fact, he played baseball, basketball and soccer before trying out as a kicker for his high school football team as a freshman. So we're talking about an athlete here. "I started kicking in my freshman year in high school and did really well," said Monday. "After my sophomore season in high school I really figured out the punting thing, and I have a better frame to be a punter than a kicker. So I went with it, started going to a bunch of camps and started to get recognition. I quickly saw I had an opportunity to get a scholarship in this sport, and it worked out for me with concern to both education and football."

Monday was recruited by pretty much everybody, and could practically name his school. But he bought into what Duke Coach David Cutcliffe and his staff were selling. "I always liked Duke growing up and the school has always intrigued me. I was a basketball fan when I was little and living in Charlotte. When an opportunity came available, I met with the coaches and liked what they had going on in Durham. They seemed like they were looking out for you and they told us you would grow as a man in our program. I was able to use football to get to a great school, one that without football I would not have been able to go to, and at Duke I think I have really maxed my opportunities in both education and football."

Patience does not come easily to a confident young man, especially when he's accustomed to being a star on the athletic field. But before Monday sent his first punt booming in Wallace Wade Stadium, he had to sit out a year as a redshirt. It was not easy sitting behind Duke punter Alex King, who transferred to Texas for his senior season, as he knew Monday was gaining on him quickly. But the redshirt used that extra year to learn from the sidelines, getting stronger every day, and thus the wait -- while difficult -- proved worth it in the end.

"It was definitely tough (to redshirt) always being a starter throughout high school, and having to come here and sit on the bench. But it was an experience I'm glad I got to be a part of, and I learned a lot giving me time to figure out the coaches and how they did things at Duke. And it allowed me to get stronger and better at what I do," Monday said.

When Duke heads to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, a lot of people will analyze how exactly they got there. When doing so it's going to be hard not to notice the big improvement in the Blue Devils' kicking game. Monday's teammate, placekicker Ross Martin, has been earning honors of his own of late, and the two freshmen have stimulated high hopes for a bright future in Durham. "Ross (Martin) and I met each other while at summer camps, so we knew each other. And when he came here, I knew right away that we would have a bond that would carry us through our four years and we would flourish together. Ross is a good guy with his head on straight and from a good family, so we meshed right away."

It's been 18 years since Duke last played in a bowl game, and had the Blue Devils not solidified their kicking game it wouldn't have happened this year either. The days of chip shot field goals being botched as time elapses or a key punt being shanked are over for the foreseeable future. And if the rest of the team commits to perfecting their game in the same way that Will Monday has, then the best of Blue Devil football is yet to come.

Duke Football Coach David Cutcliffe Named ACC Coach of the Year

Cutcliffe named ACC Coach of the Year - Photo copyright Mark Watson and BDN

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke Head Football Coach David Cutcliffe has been named Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year. Cutcliffe led Duke to a 6-6 regular season record, a three win jump from a season ago. The Blue Devils were picked last in their division in the pre-season and surpassed almost all expectations, becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since the 1994 season.

Cutcliffes' Blue Devils lost several starters in the pre-season and his team weathered further injuries during the year, yet still overcame the adversity to post the best season at Duke in 18 years. Cutcliffe recently signed a well-deserved contract extension at Duke, but he is not resting on his laurels. He's out on the recruiting trail this week as his team awaits a sure bowl invitation, expected to be issued as early as this coming Sunday.
“This honor is both humbling and rewarding because of the quality of the coaches in our conference,” said Cutcliffe.  “Like all awards, the credit reaches far beyond one person and this is truly one for our entire program.  Ultimately, the acclaim goes to both our staff and the group of young men that came to practice every day with a desire to improve and prepare, gave their best effort on Saturdays, succeeded academically and served our community with pure selflessness.  While this was a season of progress for our program, many of the goals we laid out five years ago have not been reached and we’ll continue our pursuit of excellence.

2012 ACC Coach of the Year Voting Results

David Cutcliffe, Duke (25)

Dabo Swinney, Clemson (7)

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State (5)

Larry Fedora, North Carolina (4)

Al Golden, Miami (4)

Tom O’Brien, NC State (1)

Blue Devil Nation congratulates Coach Cut on a successful season and a well-deserved award.