We Are Back!

September 6, 2012

Duke football kicked off the season Saturday night with a dominating performance against Florida International University.  The final score was 46-26 and it wasn’t really even that close.  Duke looked so good that the prevailing mood among Duke students and fans is roughly this:

And for one night at least Duke Football was most certainly relevant again.  Duke absolutely crushed FIU in every aspect of the game.  Offensively, the Blue Devils looked utterly unstoppable.  Throughout the Cutcliffe era Duke has had a dangerous passing attack, but this year is different.  Duke is no longer relying on screens and swing passes and gimmicky plays.  In Sean Renfree and Connor Vernon Duke has two legitimately dangerous offensive players. (Vernon in particular looked great Saturday night.  He was wide open down field about 5 times.)  The running game also looked a lot better for the Devils and shockingly short-yardage QB Brandon Connette was a huge weapon as well.  Most importantly however, Duke managed to play decent defense, and win the special teams battle.  For the past 4-5 years the Blue Devils have had competent teams but have been unable to put all of the pieces together.  When the offense plays well the defense loses it or vice versa.  Saturday night was the most complete game I can ever remember the Blue Devils playing.

But the play of the team is not the only reason for optimism for the Duke football program.  In a shocking turn of events the crowd at Wallace Wade for the game was really good.  The student section was almost full and the stadium as a whole looked to be nearly sold out.  To the surprise of no one, FIU didn’t travel very well so the visitor’s side looked a little sparse but it was a great effort by the fans.  David Cutcliffe certainly noticed and praised the fans in a letter to the editor in the Duke student newspaper.  Sadly, this kind of turnout is rare at Duke, but hopefully Saturday night was a turning point.  The games are a hell of a lot more fun when the team wins.  The tailgate/gameday atmosphere was sorely lacking but you can’t have everything.

It is dangerous to draw too many conclusions from one game.  In such a small sample size random luck and quality of opponent could well be bigger factors in the outcome than anything Duke did. (FIU actually is a reasonable team however.  It may sound like a community college but they went to a bowl game the last two years.)  It is entirely possible that the Devil’s performance was an illusion and Stanford game this weekend will bring reality crashing down on Duke football.  And in some sense I am sure this is true.  Duke will almost definitely lose to Stanford and there is no way the crowd will be that good again this year, but this feels like a different Duke team.  They aren’t going to win every game but the Blue Devils have the look of a team that can compete against anyone and beat the bad teams on its schedule.  That may not sound like much but its a hell of an improvement over years past.  Plus we are only 5 wins from a bowl game baby.

 
Alex King Heisman Watch

As impressive as Duke was last weekend, King was even better.  He kicked off his Heisman campaign in style as Texas beat the hell out of Wyoming.  Texas only punted three times but King left the game with a stupid 53.3 yard average.  I am not a punting expert (is anyone?) but when your average is over half the field you are probably doing ok.  People seem to agree with me as King was named the College football punter of the week.  Sadly this performance has not yet lead to much Heisman buzz.  The brilliant minds over at SI.com only have QB’s and running backs in their early season Heisman Watch. Idiots.  It’s this kind of backward, regressive thinking that we need to battle if punters are going to get a fair shot at the Heisman.

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One Response to “We Are Back!”

  1. thester said

    FI who?

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