The Blue Devils are traveling to Virginia Tech this weekend to face the mighty Hokies. This week's Duke Football Report touches on the challenges the team will face. Bob Harris and Coach Cutcliffe sat down to talk about it all. One of the biggest things for Duke? Being as healthy as the team has been all season.
Here's more from Coach Cutcliffe, who talks about the challenge for the Duke offensive line against the defensive front of the Virginia Tech.
Duke beat writer Laura Keeley has another strong article this week. The topic? How much better Duke Football has become since head coach David Cutcliffe took over the program. One of the best examples of the improvement came last week against Virginia when the Blue Devils fell behind 22-0, but rallied to win 35-22 to move to 5-2 on the season.
"That says a lot about the shift in the culture and how coach Cut (David Cutcliffe) has built this program," senior cornerback Ross Cockrell said. "We expected to win that game. And when things didn't go our way, we didn't point fingers at each other; we didn't divide; we didn't separate. People came together; we stuck it out; we played hard. We played even harder as the game went on. I don't know if a team in the past would have done that."
Similarly, the media in Virginia is well aware that these aren't the Blue Devils of old as David Teel wrote in his weekly preview:
"Cutcliffe's handiwork will be on display in the commonwealth for the second time in as many weeks Saturday when Duke (5-2, 1-2 ACC) faces Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0) at Lane Stadium. The 16th-ranked Hokies are about two-touchdown favorites, but don't believe for a minute that they can sleepwalk and survive." Full Story Here
And, in case you missed the game against the Cavaliers, here's the highlights from the biggest comeback in Duke Football history:
USA Today points out that this year's group of Blue Devils will rely on speed and dictation of the game's pace to combat the change in roster makeup. Gone are the big posts (Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly), in are a number of high major wings (Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker).
"Despite losing its top three scorers — Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly (all of whom averaged double figures) — these Blue Devils could be moreedangerous than last season' s team, which lost to eventual national champion Louisville in the Elite Eight. And this season, as much as any other, will illustrate coach Mike Krzyzewski' sability to adapt his playing style to the uniqueness of his personnel."
Here is another take on Duke's speed and scoring prowess heading into the year Link
While much has been made of the brilliance of Jabari Parker, opposing teams will also have to account for redshirt sophomore captain Rodney Hood. Hood is just the fourth transfer to play for Coach K in 33 years. He's also the first player to be named a team captain despite never playing a game.
"Rodney's a special kid, man. He's as good as they get," Krzyzewski said. "He worked hard every day in practice last year. And him watching Mason (Plumlee) especially (was good) because Ryan (Kelly) was hurt for two months and Seth (Curry) could hardly practice. He needed to assert himself more verbally like Mason did. I think that was good."
Still, Parker is going to be asked to do a lot, and everyone knows about the level of expectation. Still, as noted from his hometown paper, Jabari is taking things very slow while in Durham.
"Hungry to learn," Parker said. "I'm at Square 1. I'm learning."
Parker, a highly acclaimed recruit from Chicago, played his senior season in high school after coming off a foot injury that created a diversion in his training. Now, he said he's full-speed ahead.
"My injury is in the past and there's nothing to make excuses anymore," he said.
And, if you're not hyped up for the start of the exhibition season, here's a wonderful video from DukeBluePlanet that'll help you…
ONE MORE THING
Semi Ojeleye came into the program as a bit of a question mark. Nobody doubted his production in high school where scoring 40+ points per night was routine for him. But those numbers came against lesser competition. Still, the Kansas freshman has worked hard throughout his first few months in Durham, and appears to have worked himself into the conversation of players who will get minutes this season. And, if not, there's always this: