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Aaron Schoonmaker

Duke's shutout win marks change fans can believe in

Posted August 31, 2013
Updated September 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.” Blue Devils blank NC Central, 45-0 Slideshow: Blue Devils blank NC Central, 45-0

“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.

15 Comments

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  • Hokies94 Sep 2, 11:41 a.m.

    Confidence builder.

  • Curtis Malone loves Coach K Sep 1, 6:54 p.m.

    Dook has 7 winning seasons in the past 47 years.

    Pathetic.

  • cjw6105 Sep 1, 6:19 p.m.

    Duke 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.

  • 903 PJ suspended til NCAA clears Sep 1, 5:40 p.m.

    vanderbilt, stanford and northwestern have done it at a high-level...so WILL duke... i have NO DOUBT...

  • DurhamDevil Sep 1, 5:04 p.m.

    NC Central would be pushed to beat Campbell, IF they could beat them.

    Haters? The reason Duke has... View More

    — Posted by cjw6105

    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.

  • cjw6105 Sep 1, 4:27 p.m.

    NC Central would be pushed to beat Campbell, IF they could beat them.

    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.

  • Toddler10-21 Sep 1, 3:04 p.m.

    Couldnt agree more. Bowl eligible is what the schools in NC care about. Six wins, and let the bragging rights begin.

  • lawha63 Sep 1, 2:58 p.m.

    Yes, it was Duke shutting out NCCU. It's not often that you see Duke on the field as the bigger more physical team. Yesterday they were. But the Eagles were scrappy and they didn't lay down until maybe the 4th quarter when the heat and humidity had taken it's toll. NCCU made Duke work in the 1st half. All you haters who want to discount that Duke has a good team this year have no credibility. Most of you are probably from those 2 big state schools in the area. You guys continue to live under this illusion that you have great football programs. That is what is most laughable. No one in the state of NC can claim they have arrived. If you watched Clemson and UGA then you know what great teams and a great college football game looks like.

  • living the dream Sep 1, 2:28 p.m.

    Dukes success in sports as always starts when the pointy ends of the football fall off.
    Thanks to K.
    The end.

  • DurhamDevil Sep 1, 2:19 p.m.

    What an absolute joke! Sounds like a liberal campaign slogan!

    If you consider defeating the... View More

    — Posted by NEVER apologize for being white

    Keep on defending the Constitution, A-hole...so you have the right to speak your mind and show everyone around the world how incredibly pathetic you are.

    GO DEVILS!!!

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCSU 24
GASO 23
Final
DUKE 52
ELON 13
 
Final
UNC 56
LBRTY 29
7:05pm Saturday
NOR 4
DUR 1
 
Final
ECU 52
NCCU 7
 
5:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
Final
TOR 2
NYY 0
Final
CWS 6
DET 3
Final
STL 1
CHC 5
Final
PIT 3
CIN 2
Final
BAL 3
MIN 2
Final
TAM 7
BOS 0
Final
KAN 2
CLE 3
Final
CWS 4
DET 8
Final
ATL 0
MIA 4
Final
NYM 2
PHI 7
Final
HOU 2
TEX 0
Final
ARI 0
COL 2
Final
STL 13
CHC 2
Final
SDP 2
LOS 1
Final
SFG 3
MIL 1
Final
ANA 2
OAK 0
Final
SEA 1
WAS 3
1:07pm Today
TOR
NYY
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
PHI
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
CIN
 
1:35pm Today
BAL
MIN
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
BOS
 
2:10pm Today
CWS
DET
 
2:10pm Today
HOU
TEX
 
2:15pm Today
STL
CHC
 
3:35pm Today
ANA
OAK
 
4:05pm Today
SFG
MIL
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
COL
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
LOS
 
4:10pm Today
SEA
WAS
 
5:10pm Tonight
ATL
MIA
 
8:07pm Tonight
KAN
CLE
 
Final
MICH 52
APPST 14
Final
NAVY 17
OSU 34
Final
UAB 48
TROY 10
Final
UVA 20
UCLA 28
Final
PURD 43
WMICH 34
Final
NCSU 24
GASO 23
Final
UMASS 7
BC 30
Final
NW 24
CAL 31
Final
NEB 55
FATL 7
Final
UMO 27
MARS 42
Final
ND 48
RICE 17
Final
MIZZ 38
SDST 18
Final
ALA 33
WVU 23
Final
AUB 45
ARK 21
Final
STAN 45
UCD 0
Final
UGA 45
CLEM 21
Final
UNC 56
LBRTY 29
Final
KSU 14
OHIO 17
Final
OKLA 48
LATU 16
Final
KST 55
SAUST 16
Final
USC 52
FRES 13
Final
MSST 49
SMISS 0
Final
OKST 31
FSU 37
Final
TEX 38
UNT 7
Final
NMU 24
UTEP 31
8:05pm Saturday
UF 0
IDAHO 0
Final
LSU 28
WISC 24
Final
OREG 62
SD 13
Final
HAW 16
WASH 17
7:00pm Tonight
TENN
UTST
7:30pm Tonight
BAY
SMU
Final
DUKE 52
ELON 13
 
Final
ECU 52
NCCU 7
 
7:05pm Saturday
NOR 4
DUR 1
 
5:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR