Duke Blue Devils
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2008 CFN Duke
2008 Duke Offense
2008 Duke Defense |
2008 Duke Depth
2007 CFN Duke Preview |
2006 CFN Duke
Head coach: David Cutcliffe
1st year at Duke
8th year overall: 44-29
Off. 20, Def. 27, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 15
Best Duke Players
1. DT Vince Oghobaase, Jr.
2. WR Eron Riley, Sr.
3. LB Michael Tauiliili, Sr.
4. QB Thaddeus Lewis, Jr.
5. LB Vincent Rey, Jr.
6. RB Re'quan Boyette, Sr.
7. OT Fred Roland, Sr.
8. OT Cameron Goldberg, Sr.
9. DE Wesley Oglesby, Soph.
10. CB Leon Wright, Jr.
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 Northwestern
Sept. 13 Navy
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE
Sept. 27 Virginia
Oct. 4 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 Miami
Oct. 25 at Vanderbilt
Nov. 1 at Wake Forest
Nov. 8 NC State
Nov. 15 at Clemson
Nov. 22 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 29 North Carolina
2007 Record: 1-11
Connecticut L 45-14
Sept. 8 at
Virginia L 24-13
Sept. 15 at
Nwestern W 20-14
Sept. 22 at
Navy L 46-43
Sept. 29 at
Miami L 24-14
Forest L 41-36
Virginia Tech L 43-14
Florida State L 25-6
Clemson L 47-10
Georgia Tech L 41-24
Notre Dame L 28-7
No Carolina L 20-14 OT
The biggest star at Duke these days isn’t going to wear a helmet or
pads, but he’s going to bring the most excitement around the football
program in years.
By luring David Cutcliffe away from Tennessee, the Blue Devils have
their best Xs and Os guy since Steve Spurrier was in Durham, and a coach
who brings instant credibility to a floundering program that hasn’t been
close to competitive for years.
Cutcliffe’s task is obviously overwhelming, inheriting a team that won
two games against FBS teams in four years and hasn’t beaten an ACC
opponent since 2004. However, the hiring of a new staff is a dramatic
step in the right direction, and 19 starters are back from a year ago.
It’s not nearly enough to start dreaming about the postseason, but it’s
a start, and it’s not like Cutcliffe isn’t used to handling impossible
No, he didn’t turn Ole Miss into a power, but helped by Eli Manning, he
did make the program relevant again before being unceremoniously fired
after one down year. His first step will make the offense more
consistent, something he was able to do for the Rebels and Vols, and
that, along with all the returning experience, could be just enough to
come up with a bit of a breakthrough.
The one Blue Devil win game by hanging on late in a 20-14 win over
Northwestern, but outside of that, the team has gone 0-for-10 over the
last three seasons in games decided by a touchdown or less. The 2006
team should’ve beaten by Miami, and a more confident, veteran team
would’ve. Last year’s games against Wake Forest, Navy and North Carolina
could’ve easily have gone Duke’s way with one big stop and a bit more
from the offense late. If experience and Cutcliffe combine the right
way, the Blue Devils should win a few of those close ones and be far
Although no one in Durham will pay attention unless Duke wins a few more
games, there is a new attitude permeating throughout the program, which
often happens when an unsuccessful regime is swept out of town.
Fundamentally, the Blue Devils will make a quantum leap from last
season, even if they lack the depth and talent to make it show up in the
standings. Duke will take its first rebuilding steps under Cutcliffe in
2008, remaining in the ACC cellar, but will stun at least one league
opponent later in the fall.
What to watch for on offense: Cutcliffe plans to install a faster
paced, no-huddle offense, while still adapting to the personnel he
inherits. The ultimate goal will be to achieve balance and to keep
defenses guessing. Cutcliffe’s first quarterback is a good one,
third-year starter Thaddeus Lewis, an all-league contender if he keeps
learning. If Duke is going to start scoring more touchdowns than in
recent years, it’s imperative that the line gives Lewis an extra tick or
two to find top offensive weapon Eron Riley and an improving collection
of young wideouts.
What to watch for on defense: Although Duke’s recent woes on
defense will likely continue, there is reason for optimism thanks to a
front seven that’s loaded with more playmaker than usual. DT Vince
Oghobaase is the signature player, but he has company, namely from
frenetic LBs Michael Tauiliili and Vincent Rey, who’ll go anywhere to
make a play. The weakest link is located in the secondary, where the
Blue Devils are short on defensive backs that can go stride-for-stride
with quality receivers. It’ll help in a big way if the ends, Wesley
Oglesby and Ayanga Okpokowuruk can generate more heat on quarterbacks
The team will be far better if… the offensive line does a much
better job of pass protecting and run blocking. In QB Thaddeus Lewis, RB
Re’Quan Boyette, and WR Eron Riley, Duke has the building blocks of an
improved offense, but you’re not going to know it if the front wall
doesn’t do its part. The tackles, Fred Roland and Cameron Goldberg,
should be fine, putting the pressure on new center
Bryan Morgan and guards Rob Schirmann and
Jarrod Holt to pull their weight.
For anyone else, the first half of the season wouldn't be that bad with
home games against James Madison, Northwestern and Navy, conference home
dates with Virginia and Miami, a road trip
to Vanderbilt, and two weeks off before November. But there's a price to
pay with a stretch of four road games in five weeks starting with the
date against the Commodores and continuing with trips to Wake Forest,
Clemson and Virginia Tech wrapped around the NC State game. The Blue
Devils will play seven straight weeks without a break to close out the
Senior WR Eron Riley. The single most dangerous player on the Blue Devil
roster, Riley has averaged over 20 yards a catch in each of the last
three seasons despite playing in a feeble attack. Fundamentally sound
and very fast at 6-3 and 200 pounds, increased stability under center
means he’ll be even more lethal this fall.
Best defensive player: Junior DT Vince Oghobaase. Since coming to
Duke as one of the most heralded recruits in school history, Oghobaase
has not disappointed. Even the added nuisance of double teams couldn’t
keep him from ringing up 49 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and four sacks
as a sophomore. This best is yet to come for No. 3, a sure-fire NFL
Draft pick when he decides to come out.
Key players to a successful season: The defensive backfield.
While it’s not obvious from last year’s final numbers, there is talent
on the front seven, and two or three players capable of copping
all-league honors. The key on defense is a porous secondary that’s too
soft in coverage, especially on third down. If the pass defense can
somehow start making plays and batting down balls, the Blue Devil D will
finally have a chance to escape the ACC cellar.
The season will be a success if ... at least one of Duke’s three
wins comes against an ACC opponent. It’s been almost four years and
high time that the Blue Devils finally win a conference game. After
coming so painfully close on four occasions last year, the presence of
Cutcliffe and so many veteran players should give the program the boost
it needs to finally get over the wall.
Key game: Sept. 27 vs. Virginia. This might be the Blue Devils’ best
chance all season to cop that elusive ACC victory, so they best be
prepared. The game is at Wallace Wade Stadium, on two weeks rest, and
against a rebuilding Virginia team that’ll spend the first two months of
the season trying to find itself. If Duke delivers in front of the home
crowd, it has the potential to be a momentum-builder for Cutcliffe in
his first year in Durham.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 122 – Duke 49
- Third down conversions: Opponents 80 of 183 (44%) – Duke 57 of 180
- Rushing yards per game: Opponents 180.2 – Duke 64