Duke's shutout win marks change fans can believe in
Sep 1, 2013
For Duke, Saturday’s win over North Carolina Central was a big deal. It was more than a blowout win over an FCS opponent; it was a symbol of change – a change Blue Devils fans can believe in.
Back in 2008, the President of the United States was running on a platform of change and uniting the masses to say, “Yes we can.” At that exact same time, the new head coach at Duke University was preaching change to a down-trodden football program and had the fan base saying … well, there wasn’t much of a fan base.
Saturday marked Duke’s first game since the Belk Bowl in 2012 against Cincinnati. It was game No. 1 of a season that has the potential to propel Duke into uncharted territory as they seek their first ever back-to-back bowl appearance. And after a 45-0 shutout win, the 22,500-plus that filtered out of Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday may very well have been saying unto each other, “yes we can.”
“The shutout is something we take pride in,” said junior linebacker Kelby Brown who led the Blue Devils defense against NCCU with seven tackles. “That represents change. That was a program win.”
It was the program’s first shutout win since defeating North Carolina 41-0 in 1989. Since that season, Duke has had more winless seasons (4), than winning seasons (1).
It was their first home shutout since a 3-0 win over Wake Forest in 1978. Since that game, they have been shutout on their own home field eight times.
And you really want change? The last time Duke posted a shutout win by a greater margin was back in 1962 (50-0 over Wake Forest) when the school was still segregated**.
“It was nice to see a shutout,” Cutcliffe, who now has four such games in his career (three while at Ole Miss) said. “In this modern era, it’s difficult to get a shutout and it wasn’t a fluke.”
While NC Central was a lesser opponent to the Blue Devils on paper, and is in the middle of an internal overhaul, they entered the game with a 0-0 mark on both the scoreboard and the standings. (Laugh you might, but just this weekend eight – count them 8 – FCS programs beat FBS schools.)
Physical sign of change: Duke came out in an up-tempo, run-you-ragged style of offense and embraced the role of favorite.
“You could tell they were worn down,” said Brandon Connette, who was 5-for-8 passing for 55 yards and two touchdowns and added 22 yards and a score on the ground.
“I was pleased with our tempo but we were able to slow down when we wanted to, too,” Cutcliffe said, describing the Blue Devils’ ability to dictate the pace of the game for the full 60 minutes.
Duke got touchdowns from six different players Saturday, played five true freshman and out-gained the Eagles by 304 yards on offense (Duke didn’t even gain 304 total yards on offense in two of their games last year). More, Duke showed unprecedented depth for the 101-year-old program and played three deep at some positions – many of which by design regardless of the score.
“We played a lot of people in the first half, which was our intent,” said Cutcliffe whose team entered intermission with a 28-0 lead. “It was really good to see us playing so many in the secondary.”
Speaking of secondary, true freshman Breon Borders hauled in an interception in his first ever game and transfer Jeremy Cash recorded six tackles in his first game as a Blue Devil.
“I was a little anxious, but you can’t get overzealous,” said Cash after the performance.
“He had fun, he was chomping at the bit,” said Cutcliffe shining a little more light on the redshirt junior’s emotional state.
It was just one game, but Duke showed Saturday that last year’s bowl berth was real progress. Eleven games remain to have the faithful believing in real change.
**According to University Archives, Duke University admitted the first six graduate and professional school students in 1961. The first five undergraduates to register for Duke took place in Sept. 1963.
Most Recent Comments
RE: Duke's shutout win marks change fans can believe inConfidence builder.
RE: Duke's shutout win marks change fans can believe inDook has 7 winning seasons in the past 47 years.
RE: Duke's shutout win marks change fans can believe inDuke football is ok with being "mediocre"?
You wish! Duke football hasn't even been NEAR mediocre since the 1990s. I'm not a Duke hater and wish they could be like I remember them being in the 1950s and 1960s, but it is what it is.
Duke football is simply awful.
RE: Duke's shutout win marks change fans can believe invanderbilt, stanford and northwestern have done it at a high-level...so WILL duke... i have NO DOUBT...
RE: Duke's shutout win marks change fans can believe in
NC Central would be pushed to beat Campbell, IF they could beat them.- Posted by cjw6105
Haters? The reason Duke has been such a dismal program for so long is that while their ACC competition is also nearly as bad, Duke continues to struggle on what has become an uphill climb to the bottom of a mediocre league.
I don't think any of us State fans live under an illusion that we have a great football program. Ditto for the UNC fans. We may sometimes over-estimate our programs, but we have never under-estimated Duke football. And we don't see 6 wins being something to brag about, especially if they come over the likes of Central, Memphis, Troy, Navy, UVA and Wake Forest.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: until Duke decides to recruit bona-fide FOOTBALL players, especially the kind of quarterbacks they used to get, they'll continue to be mired at the bottom of the ACC.
Until that happens, Duke would be better suited for the FCS playoffs, and they wouldn't be a lock by any means.
Does bona-fide football players mean recruiting players who get suspended before the season even starts and then never graduate?
Duke Football is OK with being "mediocre" while maintaining the reputation of being a world-class university. NCSU football is also mediocre WITHOUT having the academic reputation of most other ACC schools. Until Pack fans recognize THAT, they would be better suited to judging themselves before they judge others.