photo courtesy of http://voiceofthebluedevils.com
The Voice of the Blue Devils has called 419 consecutive football games for Duke as the years have passed. Bob Harris is entering his 39th season calling Duke sports, and he still gets excited for each new season. He said when he loses that excitement; he knows it is time to quit. Don’t worry Duke fans, he told me he was excited driving to campus to talk with me.
This year, Duke is bringing back experience from the bowl game last year. Much of that experience is in the trenches: the offensive and defensive lines.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had the two at one time,” Harris said. “Usually if we’ve had a good experienced offensive line, we are rebuilding the defense, or vice versa.”
Experienced line play should help the team transition to a new quarterback in Anthony Boone.
“Boone is a very talented athlete,” he said. “He can make a lot of things happen. He has the confidence now going into fall practice that he is the number one man.”
Harris also said the lack of turnover in the coaching staff helps players develop. Coach Cutcliffe is now in his sixth season, making him the longest tenured coach since Mike McGee in the 1970’s. Harris said keeping assistant coaches has also been one of Cutcliffe’s big keys to success.
“We’ve had very little turnover in the previous five years.” Harris said. “I think two is the most we’ve lost in one year. From his first and second year, there was no turnover.”
Harris mentioned that he had worked with 110 assistant coaches while he has been here at Duke.
“I remember one quarterback…I think he red-shirted one year,” Harris said. “In the five years he was here, he had four different offensive coordinators. Basically four different offenses he had to learn to run. That puts you behind the eight-ball before you can get started.”
Harris said one other key to continued success is recruiting. He said coaches in the past didn’t spend as much time trying to recruit guys they knew they wouldn’t get.
“Cut’s not taking that philosophy,” Harris said. “You go after the players that you want, and you tell them why they should come to Duke. You convince them of the fact that they can be successful on the field and in the classroom and in later life.”
He described watching some videos of the guys like Thomas Sirk (a 6’4” QB from Florida), telling me how he watched Sirk run through defensive linemen and tackles and then outrun a safety on the way to an 81-yard touchdown run. Sirk is recovering from an Achilles injury, but Harris said he notices athletes all over the field now.
“That’s the kind of kids that want to come to play for David Cutcliffe,” he said.