This week's edition of Sportswrap features men's soccer sophomore Markus Fjørtoft, who scored Duke's first goal of the regular season Friday night as the Blue Devils topped Saint Mary's 3-2 at the John Rennie Nike Invitational.
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe met with the media Sunday afternoon to preview Thursday night's season-opener at Tulane. Because of the mid-week game, the Blue Devils treated Sunday like the Tuesday of a normal game week and practiced at night to try to simulate the heat and humidity they could face in New Orleans. Here are some of the more notable sound bytes from Cutcliffe's press conference:
The Blue Devils took a preseason road trip to Washington last week to watch the Detriot Lions and Washington Redskins face off in a preseason matchup. But the two-day excursion served a bigger purpose than watching former Blue Devils Laken Tomlinson and Takoby Cofield play at the next level—it served as a dress rehearsal for the Sept. 3 game at Tulane. The players adhered to a strict itinerary on the trip, which included events like a pregame meal before the NFL preseason game. The trip provided freshmen and redshirt freshmen with a important travel experience before the team’s season opener on the road and will prepare the whole squad for the program’s first road opener since 2005.
“It was one of the reasons that we wanted to do it. We have so many redshirt freshmen and true freshmen that are going to be on their first trip, and you open on the road. College football's different—you don't get an exhibition game, we haven't played a game since the bowl game. So travel and what you do and how you do it and following every day with an itinerary, you've got to follow an itinerary.”
The punt return position was one of the most contested position battles in fall camp and it appears junior Ryan Smith has secured the bulk of the playing time for the time being. Wide receivers Max McCaffrey, T.J. Rahming, Keyston Fuller and Johnell Barnes were also competing for the starting job along with kick returner DeVon Edwards. However, Cutcliffe did hint that he is open to continuously evaluating the position and that he would not hesitate using a number of different players at the position. But for now, Smith, who has the most experience amongst the bunch as a returner, will be returning punts against Tulane. Read more »
The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has just rung again,
meaning it's time to take another look at who is rising and falling with their
performances for Blue Devil sports teams. Each week The Blue Zone will look at
whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the
world of Duke athletics.
Bull Market—Trending Up
Jeremy Cash – The
Blue Devils strike safety finds himself on the rise with just a week to go
before the Duke football opens the season at Tulane. The Miami native has
received three first-team All-America selections and four second-team
selections from various sporting publications this season in addition to being named to numerous preseason All-ACC team lists. Cash returns as the only defensive
back in the nation to record more than 100 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and
five sacks and will look to anchor a defense that heads into the season with an
inexperienced front line.
Duke women’s soccer –
Head coach Robbie Church’s team followed its 1-0 victory against No. 22 Clemson in
preseason play by shutting out its first two opponents at the UNC Nike
Classic in Chapel Hill. Although the squad lost eight seniors to graduation, the team seems to have reloaded after landing the nation’s sixth-best recruiting class—led by freshman Taylor Racioppi who was named to the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week.
The Blue Devils also returned redshirt sophomore Cassie Pecht—who missed the
past two seasons with a number of knee injuries. No. 21 Duke faces a stiff test Friday when it travels to State College, Pa. to
take on Penn State. Read more »
In the past three seasons, Duke has transformed itself from a
perennial ACC cellar-dweller to one of the top teams in the Coastal division.
This offseason, the Blue Devils are finally getting the
respect they deserve.
Duke landed three players—safety Jeremy Cash, center Matt
Skura and all-purpose returner DeVon Edwards—on ESPN’s preseason All-ACC team.
Cash also earned a spot on ESPN’s preseason All-America team, adding to his
already impressive collection of preseason honors. Read more »
This week's edition of Sportswrap features women's soccer freshman midfielder Taylor Racioppi, who scored three goals during Duke's unbeaten weekend at the UNC Nike Classic in Chapel Hill. Freshmen scored six of the Blue Devils' nine goals.
Freshmen net three goals as Duke women's soccer cruises in opener: Racioppi became the third Blue Devil ever to score twice in her first career start and classmate Kayla McCoy added another goal as the Blue Devils won their season opener, 5-0. A year after the offense sputtered in its first weekend of competition, Duke flipped the script Friday, allowing the Bulldogs just one shot on goal.
The Plumlee brothers have long been a popular family lineage at Duke, with Miles, Mason and Marshall all displaying their talents in front of capacity crowds at Cameron Indoor Stadium and bringing banners back from Indianapolis.
But another family name may be a household one within the next few years.
Safety Dylan Singleton—the younger brother of current Duke safety Deondre Singleton—announced his decision to commit to the Blue Devils Friday night. Dylan Singleton is slated as the No. 282 player in the 2016 ESPN 300 and also held offers from traditional powerhouses such as Ohio State, Auburn and Georgia.
During their Blue Devil careers, Jamison Crowder, Takoby Cofield and Laken Tomlinson were key cogs in the offense and members of the teams that helped rebuild the Duke football program.
Head coach David Cutcliffe paid his former players some respect when the entire Blue Devil football team attended Thursday's preseason game between the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.
Tomlinson became the program's first player to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft in the last 28 years when he was chosen 28th overall by the Lions back in April. Crowder followed soon after, coming off the board in the fourth round and heading to Washington. Cofield was added to Washington's roster as an undrafted free agent earlier this summer. The three seniors were part of the second-winningest class in program history and led Duke to the ACC Championship in 2013. Read more »
The Blue Devils have excelled in special teams during the last two seasons and the success Jamison Crowder and DeVon Edwards had in the return game during that time span was a major reason why. Duke averaged 13.54 yards per punt return last season, good for tenth in the nation and averaged 25.25 yards per kick return, which was the eighth best mark in the FBS. With David Cutcliffe continuing to place an emphasis on special teams, look for his squad to continue to succeed on returns despite the loss of Crowder, who was an All-America punt returner.
Key Players Lost: Jamison Crowder
Crowder was hands down the best punt returner in recent memory for Duke Football. He scored a program-record four touchdowns off punt returns in 2013 and 2014 alone and was an all-ACC return specialist in both seasons. The Monroe, N.C., native was a player who could break out of a tackle at any moment and zoom down the field for an unexpected touchdown off a punt—as illustrated by his thrilling touchdown against Arizona State. Although Crowder's services will be sorely missed in Durham, there is a good chance we'll be able to watch him return punts on Sundays in the near future. Read more »
With the regular season less than a month away, the Blue Devils roster is starting to round into form.
So is the way the squad will look when it takes the field this season.
Duke released images of its football uniforms for the upcoming season on social media earlier this week. The new uniforms designed by Nike feature the Blue Devils traditional colors—black, blue and white—in different combinations and mark a return to a familiar design after Duke wore throwbacks in 2014.
If you ask most fans about the most important position on the football field, few would respond by naming a player on special teams—much less a kicker or punter. But in case you forgot, the kicking game can have a big impact on the result of a game, as Duke learned last season at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
It certainly may not be the most glamorous job in the game, but with five games being decided by a touchdown or less in 2014—including a 17-16 heartbreaker at home against Virginia Tech where two missed field goals proved costly for Duke—having a reliable kicking unit on the field is key in close games. With the Blue Devils returning starters at kicker, punter and long snapper to lead the special teams squad, look for Duke to have just that this season.