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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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  • Toddler10-21 Sep 1, 12:07 a.m.

    You have got to be kidding me? You beat NCCU, and its a great victory? WOW!!

  • StunGunn Sep 1, 7:00 a.m.

    Time will tell if this Duke team is "for real", but this is a great way to start the season.

  • Tar Heels Blue Sep 1, 7:56 a.m.

    One step at a time. A good victory, but I hope Duke doesn't spend too much time on this victory. There are tougher teams on the horizon who will really test them. Congrats nonetheless.

  • Boogalooboy Sep 1, 8:24 a.m.

    We were supposed to win and I'm tickled that we scored as many points as we did while clearing the bench. But for once I have to agree with these Tarheel folks. Proof is in the puddin'... we won't know for sure what we got until we play against better teams... but a W is a W...

    Go Devils...

  • NEVER apologize for being white Sep 1, 1:41 p.m.

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

    If you consider defeating the equivalent of a community college who has no head coach something to feel good about, then that just shows what an utter EMBARRASSMENT your so called program is.

    Change fans can believe in..........BWAAHHHHHHHHHHH HAHAHAHAHAHAHHHHHHAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAA!!!!

  • 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!!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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    Tuesday at 7:00 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
2nd
TOR 54
NYK 45
 
4:30pm Today
CLE
MEM
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
BOS
6:00pm Tonight
BRK
DET
6:00pm Tonight
SAC
LAL
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHI
6:00pm Tonight
WAS
PHO
7:00pm Tonight
MIN
IND
7:00pm Tonight
OKC
NOP
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
Final
BGU 68
FERST 82
 
Final
ARMY 72
MAINE 69
 
Final
QUIN 60
ORST 52
Final
CLST 69
USF 65
 
Final
CARK 55
CCAR 72
 
Final
UWGB 66
ARKLR 46
 
Final
RAD 74
CORN 61
 
Final
UNT 62
CREI 58
 
Final
CAN 67
HC 48
 
Final
USB 67
GHND 52
 
Final
OKST 64
MD 73
Final
WINT 100
REIN 72
 
Final
UGST 68
SMISS 55
Final
NEOM 77
TXPA 72
 
Final
STLU 58
VERM 55
 
Final
UNCA 62
WCU 66
 
Final
EVAN 81
ALAST 63
 
Final
HART 82
FIU 69
 
Final
VALPO 82
GOSHEN 55
 
2nd
LIP 50
PEAY 43
 
2nd
DEN 33
BRY 33
 
2nd
MONT 52
SD 48
 
2nd
MTST 44
TENST 32
 
2nd
SAMF 39
LAMON 34
 
Half
SCAR 35
COKR 23
 
1st
HAMP 20
NARZ 18
 
1st
SDU 26
SDCHR 12
 
1st
BC 26
USC 24
 
1st
NICST 0
TROY 0
 
4:30pm Today
BRAD
UCI
 
6:00pm Tonight
UGA
SHU
6:30pm Tonight
ALA
APP
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
NDST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WASU
SJST
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ALCOR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
SACST
 
6:00pm Tonight
DET
COL
6:00pm Tonight
EDM
DAL
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
BUF
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
TOR
9:00pm Tonight
WIN
PHI
Final
NOS 14
ATL 30
 
Final
HOU 25
BAL 13
 
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
 
Final
CHI 14
DET 20
Final
TAM 3
GBP 20
 
Final
PIT 20
KAN 12
 
4th
MIA 37
MIN 35
 
Final
NYJ 16
NEP 17
 
1st
STL 3
NYG 10
 
1st
OAK 0
BUF 0
 
1st
DAL 0
IND 0
 
8:30pm Tonight
ARI
SEA