banner
Adam Gold

Duke's football future is bright

Posted December 8, 2013
Updated February 6, 2014

Duke Logo

While there are no moral victories in football, Duke has a lot to be excited about, even in the wake of a disappointing 45-7 loss to Florida State in the ACC Championship game. Even though they battled the Seminoles in the early rounds of Saturday night's title bout, the body blows took a toll on the Blue Devils and the second half was more about determining a final score than a champion.

Make no mistake, Duke should be disappointed. They had a great chance to strike first as sophomore running back Jela Duncan broke free down the left sideline, but he dropped a pass deep in FSU territory that would have almost certainly set Duke up with a first and goal and an eventual lead. What's worse, is that Duke's 67-yard drive came on the heels of a Florida State fumble by running back Devonta Freeman, who coughed up the football inside the Duke 5-yard line. When you're a 29-point underdog, moments present themselves in a football game that you must seize. That was the first, and when Ross Martin's 47-yard field goal was wide to the right, the Devils came up empty.

Later, Duke got a lift from a Jamison Crowder 40-yard punt return that set the Devils up at the FSU 37-yard line. But, Anthony Boone's first interception of the game negated the opportunity and 73 yards later the Seminoles cashed that mistake in for a 14-0 lead. Duke didn't have to take unnecessary risks to beat Florida State, but they had to play a clean game and take advantage of just about every scoring opportunity. Those last two elements were, unfortunately, missing from the Blue Devils' arsenal.

Still, Duke football has an awful lot to look forward to as we head into the bowl season and beyond. The Blue Devils are almost certainly headed to the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Years Eve, the most prestigious post season assignment for the program since the 1960 Cotton Bowl win over Arkansas. Beyond this bowl season however, Duke's football future is very bright. Of the 48 players listed on the depth chart last night in Charlotte, 39 of them have at least one more year of eligibility.

Duke's four leading rushers all return, including all three of their top tailbacks. Junior Josh Snead, and sophomores Jela Duncan and Shaq Powell all averaged more than 5 yards per carry and junior quarterback Brandon Connette rushed for almost 400 yards and 13 touchdowns. Duke's receiving corps is also returning almost entirely intact. Assuming explosive wide out Jamison Crowder and tight end Braxton Deaver don't chase NFL dreams a year early, the Devils will bring back six of their top seven targets and almost 90% of their 2013 receiving yards.

Eleven different Duke players received all-ACC honors, including four that were selected to the first team. Eight of them are coming back. Seven of Duke's top nine defensive backs are freshmen and sophomores and the Blue Devils will return eight of their top 10 tacklers.

In many cases, when a program like Duke's makes a splash, it's on the backs of a seasoned senior class. And, while the Blue Devils certainly were buoyed by veteran corner back Ross Cockrell and sixth year senior defensive end Kenny Anunike, the real driving force behind the surge was the emergence of talented younger players, most of whom will be around for at least another season. Players like DeVon Edwards, a redshirt freshman who had four return touchdowns this year. Breon Borders, a true freshman corner back who intercepted Heisman Trophy favorite Jameis Winston twice Saturday night in Charlotte. And Jeremy Cash, the transfer from Ohio State – yes, THAT Ohio State – who was second on the team in tackles in his first season for Duke.

It's impossible to predict what next season will bring. Clearly, they were a team that achieved a lot in 2013. Aside from the obvious 10-wins and a second consecutive bowl invitation, and a title shot that no one among the college football Illuminati felt would ever happen, they developed an identity. Duke football established something this year. No longer is Duke the doormat of the Atlantic Coast Conference. No longer are they everyone's homecoming game. No longer is Duke a pushover.  Duke was physical, fast and relentless football team this year. Until wearing down under the immense talent and determination of a Florida State team that appears destined to bring back the glory days, they were exactly that last night.  

Saturday night was an opportunity to win a championship, one that Duke wasn't able to grasp with both hands. While failing to do so is crushingly painful to the players and coaches, it's just another part of the process. From the rubble of a program that had been out of the football business six years ago to the precipice of a conference championship, Saturday night was as much of a step forward as it was a temporary step back.  

David Cutcliffe is building a program at Duke and so much of that foundation will be around next season to continue the construction.

31 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Newest First
View all
  • DEVILS1 Dec 8, 2013

    Gold...You are exactly right on this one.

  • rushbot Dec 8, 2013

    wanted: qb, 6'4" minimum height, 238lbs minimum weight, must be able to throw a football 60 yards flat footed and thru tires mounted 6' in the air at 20 yards, 30 yards and 40 yards consistently..above average footspeed, oh yeah..minimum 3.0 gpa college prep courses, should not require tutoring.

    wide receiver,2 each, 6'5" height, 4.3 speed, 45" verticle leap, enormous hands, oh yeah, minimum 3.0 gpa college prep courses, should not require tutoring.

    running backs, 3 each, 6'3" height, 4.3 speed, weight range 220-245. oh yeah, minimum 3.0 gpa college prep courses, should not require tutoring.

    contact coach david cutcliff at duke university...

    congrats devils and coach cut, you guys are the best all around student athlete football players in the country..the triangle is proud of you!!!good luck in your bowl and in recruiting..

  • rvm Dec 8, 2013

    so proud of duke this season! Rooted for them through the 0-12 seasons along with the 1-11 ones, so great to see a fantastic year. Coastal champs, bowl eligible, and nationally ranked. Cut has done his job and more in Durham, and so has the team. go duke and ra va mil

  • mittnfriends Dec 8, 2013

    rushbot hit the nail on the head; can't expect to be much of a football success without bringing in academic liabilities with a propensity to break rules and laws. Coach Cutcliffe and those players are defying the odds with the season they're having.

    I'm just not understanding why the Duke haters are so on the offensive. Duke runs a clean program in the midst of flunkies, cheats and societal misfits and still finds a way to win 10 games and make it to the ACC championship. Let it breath.

  • ttaylor58 Dec 8, 2013

    DELUSIONAL. Didn't have to take chances to beat FSU?? I'm still laughing over that one. Face it Dook had a totally unexpected season and will return to the Dook we all know and love next year. See you again in 20-25 years when Dook might be relevant again in FB.

  • Old Well Drinks Dec 8, 2013

    ... Florida State is a football juggernaut again, and DUKE is a very good ACC team, as good as Clemson which is saying a lot for the progress that Cutcliffe has made with a small private university known more for scholars than NFL producing ballers.

  • jmcdow2792 Dec 8, 2013

    I guess this question depends on the definition of bright. A solid team that wins 6 or more per year. Maybe. Consistently competing for ACC and national honors. Doubtfull. But, that doesn't mean that they are unsuccessful or that the fans should not be proud of them.

  • Toddler10-21 Dec 8, 2013

    Rushbot the same goes for dame, vandy, and Stanford.

  • StunGunn Dec 8, 2013

    Congrats to Cut and his players. Cut is building a program, and while Duke may not have the success of a school like FSU, they won't be the cellar dweller of the ACC either. Duke is definitely headed in the right direction under Cut's guidance.

  • jrt0856 Dec 8, 2013

    What spin, you (Gold)should be working in Obama's whitehouse. FSU is the team that blew opportunities in the 1st half. 2 maybe 3 td's left on the field. Duke had 1 scoring on that drive. They had 5 1st downs on that drive. I don't believe they got another 1st down until late in the 3rd qtr. 45-7, it should have 59-3, that td was against 2 and 3rd stringers. Even State score 17 against them. Next year, with all the freshman and redshirt freshman and soph from Duke and UNC, you want to make a guess who will rank higher in the pre-season. Will the writers pick UNC or Duke higher than Miami or VaTech. I have you say many times recruiting matters in college football. I guess in Duke case it doesn't. 1 and 2 stars and a few 2 stars recruits will get you in the ACC championship every year. This year was an once in a lifetime thing. Will they be competitive, of course. At least as long as sore loser Cutcliffe is there.

More...

 

 

  • NASCAR: Folds of Honor 500 in Atlanta

    Today at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • AAC: SMU at UConn

    Today at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Big Ten: Michigan State at Wisconsin

    Today at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Wake Forest at Duke

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NBA: LA Clippers at Chicago

    Today at 1:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • Big Ten: Michigan State at Wisconsin

    Today at 4:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NHL Hurricanes at Chicago

    Tomorrow at 8:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: NC State at Clemson

    Tuesday at 9:00 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
UCF 66
ECU 71
Final
BC 79
NCSU 63
Final
MIAMI 64
UNC 73
Final
NCCU 72
COOK 49
 
Final
NYI 3
CAR 5
Final
DUKE 73
SYR 54
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
CHA
 
1:05pm Today
PHI
UTA
 
Final
WAS 99
DET 95
Final
MIA 91
ATL 93
Final
NYK 103
TOR 98
Final
MIN 97
MEM 101
Final
DAL 94
BRK 104
Final
UTA 82
MIL 75
Final
PHO 74
SAN 101
1:00pm Today
CHI
LAC
 
3:30pm Today
HOU
CLE
 
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
CHA
 
6:00pm Tonight
BOS
GSW
 
6:00pm Tonight
IND
PHI
 
6:00pm Tonight
SAC
POR
 
6:30pm Tonight
LAL
OKC
 
8:00pm Tonight
DEN
NOP
 
Final
LIP 94
KNST 75
 
Final
GHND 47
NAVY 57
 
Final
LAF 74
ARMY 64
 
Final
AMER 69
BUCK 71
 
Final
UCF 66
ECU 71
Final
STJ 81
GEOR 70
Final
CLEM 70
GT 63
Final
COL 61
LEH 55
 
Final
FSU 59
LOU 81
Final
MD 66
MICH 56
Final
UGA 68
MIZZ 44
Final
BC 79
NCSU 63
Final
LAS 56
RIU 59
Final
UNH 65
MAINE 56
 
Final
IUPUI 80
NEOM 87
 
Final
WINT 80
PBY 53
 
Final
VMI 69
SAMF 80
 
Final
CITA 54
WCU 67
 
Final
DEP 53
BUT 67
Final
LONG 70
CAMP 65
 
Final
TULA 47
CIN 63
Final
VCU 55
DAY 59
Final
TOWS 60
DEL 65
 
Final
WMARY 66
DREX 80
 
Final
JVU 75
FLGC 67
 
Final
EVAN 67
ILLST 69
 
Final
BRAD 52
INDST 60
 
Final
MIAMI 64
UNC 73
Final
WICHS 74
NIOWA 60
Final
UWGB 83
OU 63
 
Final
LSU 73
MISS 63
Final
OKLA 67
TCU 60
Final
BING 76
UMBC 69
 
Final
AFA 60
UTST 74
Final
GTDNS 79
VERM 73
 
Final
XAV 66
VILL 78
Final
MNTER 74
WAGN 64
 
Final
ILLCH 61
WRST 46
 
Final
YALE 90
SARAHLAW 55
 
Final
UAB 100
MTST 95
Final
NDAK 65
SUTAH 71
 
Final
LIB 77
UNCA 95
 
Final
CHIST 65
WLVRN 44
 
Final
UMO 57
BGU 62
 
Final
SHU 84
LIU 73
 
Final
APP 66
LAMON 43
 
Final
VANDY 73
ALA 66
Final
KENT 84
ARK 67
Final
NCCU 72
COOK 49
 
Final
MRGST 77
COPST 88
 
Final
SHU 67
CREI 66
Final
BONA 92
DUQ 75
Final
MERC 69
ETST 64
 
Final
UMASS 82
FORD 74
Final
RAD 72
GWEBB 62
 
Final
JMU 82
HOF 73
 
Final
BU 70
HC 77
 
Final
KYST 70
ISU 69
Final
DELST 65
MDES 69
 
Final
LOYC 65
MIZST 51
 
Final
IDAHO 80
MNTST 73
 
Final
MCNST 83
NICST 78
 
Final
TTU 63
OKST 62
Final
PORT 66
SDU 78
 
Final
BRY 61
Terriers 51
 
Final
RMU 71
RFLSH 70
 
Final
UVA 69
VT 57
Final
BAY 78
WVU 66
Final
FUR 60
WOFF 62
 
Final
SILL 63
DRAK 57
 
Final
FD 73
CCST 66
 
Final
WMICH 80
EMICH 72
 
Final
CSOU 97
HIGH 93
 
Final
UNCG 58
CHAT 61
 
Final
SD 80
SDKST 64
 
Final
CARK 74
SELA 72
 
Final
KU 69
TEX 64
Final
EWASH 76
MONT 77
 
Final
TROY 64
UGST 75
 
Final
TXST 70
ARKST 60
 
Final
UNT 57
ODU 70
Final
CORN 45
DART 56
 
Final
NCAT 77
FAM 65
 
Final
PSU 77
IOWA 81
Final
MORE 87
JVST 55
 
Final
PEPP 65
LMU 49
 
Final
SCAR 81
MSST 68
Final
BRO 62
PRIN 80
 
Final
NEV 62
SJST 51
Final
SCST 57
SAV 68
 
Final
BEL 88
TENST 62
 
Final
UF 66
TENN 49
Final
ALAST 49
TXSOU 58
 
Final
SOUTH 71
ALCOR 63
 
Final
JST 73
MVSU 49
 
Final
SEMIZ 89
PEAY 65
 
Final
TOL 70
BST 59
 
Final
KSU 65
BUF 71
 
Final
LBSU 70
CSFU 47
 
Final
MARS 79
FATL 63
Final
STLU 50
GMAS 78
Final
DAVID 77
GWU 66
Final
CLMB 70
HARV 80
 
Final
LAM 79
INCWORD 66
 
Final
YOUNG 74
UWMIL 82
 
Final
ELON 74
UNCW 55
 
Final
ILL 86
NW 60
Final
YALE 55
PENN 50
 
Final
STJOE 57
RICH 63
Final
UNF 86
STET 71
 
Final
HART 59
USB 74
 
Final
DUKE 73
SYR 54
Final
EKENT 70
TENT 67
 
Final
LATU 76
TXSA 66
Final
NKENTUCKY 84
USCU 65
 
Final
MAST 84
WILL 64
 
Final
UMKC 70
GRCN 65
 
Final
NO 75
ABCHRIST 55
 
Final
TENNM 67
MURST 73
 
Final
HOW 67
HAMP 68
 
Final
ALAAM 72
PVU 75
 
Final
SDST 46
BSU 56
Final
NILL 73
CMICH 55
 
Final
RICE 76
CHAR 77
Final
ORU 60
DEN 57
 
Final
WKENT 77
FIU 61
8:00pm Saturday
TXPA 0
NMST 0
 
Final
COC 56
NE 65
 
Final
SCU 71
GAELS 70
 
Final
HOUB 87
STEPH 102
 
Final
SMISS 63
UTEP 60
Final
MEM 72
TULSA 74
Final
UNLV 69
WYO 57
Final
TXARL 82
ARKLR 73
 
Final
TEXAM 80
AUB 55
Final
LALAF 68
GSOUT 58
 
Final
ARKPB 66
GRAM 57
 
Final
TAMCC 61
SHSU 59
 
Final
UTAH 57
ARZ 63
Final
NCOL 76
NARZ 74
 
Final
GONZ 70
BYU 73
Final
WEBER 61
IDST 57
 
Final
FRES 59
NMU 55
Final
USF 65
PAC 55
 
Final
CPSL 56
UCD 66
 
Final
PORST 60
SACST 73
 
Final
SEAT 53
CALST 43
 
Final
CSNO 83
UCR 76
 
Final
USC 70
WASH 55
Final
UCSB 54
UCI 51
 
2:00pm Today
NIAG
FAIR
 
2:00pm Today
PETE
IONA
 
2:00pm Today
RIDE
MAR
 
2:00pm Today
MAN
QUIN
 
2:00pm Today
UCONN
SMU
 
3:00pm Today
CAL
ORST
 
3:00pm Today
HOU
SFLA
 
3:30pm Today
PROV
MARQ
 
4:00pm Today
WISC
MSU
 
4:30pm Today
MON
SIENA
 
6:30pm Tonight
WAKE
PITT
 
7:00pm Tonight
STAN
OREG
 
7:30pm Tonight
OSU
PURD
 
8:30pm Tonight
COL
ARST
 
9:30pm Tonight
UCLA
WASU
 
Final
FLA 5
BUF 3
Final
NAS 3
DET 4
Final
NYI 3
CAR 5
Final
CLB 0
NJD 2
Final
BOS 4
ARI 1
Final
MON 4
TOR 0
Final
PHI 4
NYR 2
Final
COL 1
MIN 3
Final
SJS 2
OTT 4
Final
EDM 1
STL 2
4:00pm Today
WIN
LOS
 
5:00pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
 
5:00pm Tonight
FLA
TAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
DAL
ANA
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
STL