Blue Devils aim to end losing streak
Duke has sights set on a historically successful football season beginning today.
After qualifying for a bowl game a year ago for the first time since the 1994 season, the Blue Devils aim for the school’s first back-to-back bowl appearances.
Long before that goal can be reached, however, the Blue Devils have to end the five-game losing streak they carry over from the 2012 season.
The first chance to do that comes against N.C. Central in the Bull City Gridiron Classic at Wallace Wade Stadium (4 p.m., ESPN3).
“I’m certain we’re like every college football team in America right now — anxious to play, anxious to see a few new faces and just to see how we’ve grown,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said.
Duke started off 6-2 a year ago only to drop its last five games, including a 48-34 setback to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. The Blue Devils will get a chance to start this season off better with a favorable schedule.
Duke plays five of its first six games at Wallace Wade Stadium, with the exception being a trip to Memphis to battle the Tigers (4-8 in 2012) at the Liberty Bowl. Last season, Duke went 5-2 at Wallace Wade, matching the school record for home wins in a season.
Included among those wins was a 54-17 victory over NCCU on Sept. 15.
While the Blue Devils are hungry to get back on the field and ends the losing streak, they do so with some questions to answer.
Duke has a new starting quarterback with junior Anthony Boone taking over for Sean Renfree, a three-year starter who ended his career as the most accurate passer in Duke history.
The Blue Devils will be young in the defensive secondary with only one starter, All-ACC cornerback Ross Cockrell, returning back there. Duke plans on its experienced front seven to make a difference defensively.
“We have a team that’s breaking in a new starter at quarterback after three years and a few other key people in the secondary,” Cutcliffe said. “I’m excited for those people, and I’m excited to see how they respond.”
With Duke’s first three games of the season all set for late-afternoon starting times, Cutcliffe wants to utilize a host of players to keep his team fresh. He plans to use approximately 60 players against NCCU, including as many as seven true freshmen.
“I see us being able to play a lot of people early,” Cutcliffe said.
In the defensive secondary, that will mean redshirt freshman Corbin McCarthy starting at one safety position and redshirt sophomore Jeremy Cash, a transfer from Ohio State, making his Duke debut at another safety slot. Another sophomore, Dwyane Norman, is the third starter at safety.
Backing them up are freshman Chris Holmes and Deondre Singleton.
At cornerback, freshman Breon Borders and Bryon Fields are behind Cockrell with redshirt freshman DeVon Edwards behind redshirt senior Garett Patterson at the opposite corner.
“The young DBs we have, that’s one of the great things about them,” Cockrell said. “They have the hunger, they have the fire to compete But also they are not like brash, cocky and in your face guys. They are hungry and eager to learn.”