Duke Beat: Back to the Drawing Board

For Duke Football fans seeing your team lose, and lose in an embarrassing fashion, is nothing new.

It isn’t that losing feels particularly good, but it does make it somewhat easier to stomach when your expectations of winning aren’t very high. But the thing is Duke fans want to win, and many felt that the Blue Devils’ most recent game against Stanford was at least winnable.

It would have been the biggest win in over 20 years and it would have marked the first victory against a ranked opponent on their home field since 1971. However, it wasn’t meant to be, as Stanford came out with something to prove and Duke was knocked back and never able to get back up.

From almost the opening kick, the Blue Devils could not match the Cardinal’s intensity. Offensively their play calling was conservative early and often, and by the time they opened up the play book it was too little, too late.

By the time the dust settled, a game that many had projected to be somewhat close had turned into another blowout for the Blue Devils, 50-13.  It certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of fans, coaches and most certainly the players.

After the game, Duke Coach David Cutcliffe talked about his team not forgetting the performance in a hope that they can learn and get better.

“We can’t put this behind us. We need to remember this and then we need to correct this,” Cutcliffe said.

The same can’t really be said for the Duke fans. They have to put this behind them, because putting the losses behind you is the only way for the fans to move forward. They don’t call them fanatics for no reason, so if they obsess over every loss, well as a Duke Football fan, you will be obsessing a lot.

For the team, it is back to the drawing board.

Follow Mike on Twitter at @DukeBlogMKline

The Blue Devils showed they weren’t ready for primetime against a Top 25 opponent but that shouldn’t be a problem in their next two games, both at home and both against teams that Duke should be able to beat, if not handily.

Duke will host North Carolina Central University next week in a game the Blue Devils should win. The Eagles are an FCS team and not one that has been close to beating an FBS school. That being said, Duke can’t make the mistake of being complacent based on who their opponent is, because despite the assurance that they wouldn’t be too high going into the game against Stanford, it didn’t happen.

“We may have been a little complacent,” Cutcliffe said. “Bottom line is we didn’t get it done. No excuses, no secrets to this.”

After NCCU, Duke hosts Memphis, a team that has recently been one of the worst at the FBS level. It may seem funny to say that coming from the Blue Devils, who haven’t been an elite team, but the Tigers have been truly awful and have opened their season with a loss to the FCS Tennessee-Martin and this past week to Arkansas State.

There is a very realistic chance that Duke could be 3-1 heading into conference play, and that is as well as most could have hoped for.

But for that to happen the Blue Devils and their coaching staff have to go back to the basics, make adjustments, and get back to being aggressive, something that they greatly lacked against Stanford.


Duke Sports BlogMike Kline is the operator of DukeSportsBlog.com, a site dedicated to coverage and analysis of Duke Football and Basketball from a fan’s perspective. He is also a regular contributor for DukeReport.com. Mike does a monthly podcast with Jim Oliver of Duke Report focusing on Duke Basketball and occasionally football. Mike is a long time Duke football and basketball fan. A former journalist, Mike is now a mild mannered middle school teacher by day and blogger by night. Follow Mike on Twitter at @DukeBlogMKline

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