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Brey: Wojociechowski will make 'a really good head coach'

(01/03/14 12:59am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>When Duke opens ACC play on the road against Notre Dame Saturday, the matchup will pit Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey against his former team. Before becoming the head coach at Notre Dame in 2000, Brey was an assistant for Mike Krzyzewski from 1987-95.One of the players Brey coached was current Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who began his career with the Blue Devils in 1994. Nearly two decades later, Brey took the time to laud Wojciechowski for his coaching ability in his weekly press conference, and said his former player could be making the jump to the head coaching ranks sooner than people think."Steve is a head coach. He is really ready," Brey said. "Somebody is going to get a really good head coach here, probably this spring. I loved him as a player, loved him as a person, certainly he has a lot of input in that program right now."Duke associate head coaches have been highly coveted for head coaching jobs in recent years. Stanford hired away Johnny Dawkins in 2008, and Dawkins was replaced by Chris Collins, who recently began his first season as the head coach at Northwestern. Whether or not Wojciechowski becomes the next target for collegiate programs searching for a head coach next season remains to be seen, but Brey said that if and when that day does come, any program that took a chance on Wojciechowski wouldn't be disappointed."I think he's destined to become a head coach very soon, and some AD is going to look real good when they hire Steve," he said.

With Snead's support, Boone looks forward into 2014

(01/02/14 11:07am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>ATLANTA—As the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve in the Georgia Dome, the moments following Duke's Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Texas A&M spanned two years but felt like an eternity.The flash of blinding camera lights and swirl of questions from reporters on deadline brought the moments back into real time. Blue Devil running back Josh Snead sat in a chair outside the Duke locker room and glanced two seats to his left. He saw his quarterback, Anthony Boone, who blamed their team's 52-48 loss on the two fourth-quarter interceptions he threw, one of which went for the game-winning touchdown.There was the pain of a near-victory turning into a crushing defeat, but Snead understood Boone's agony better than anyone—one year ago, it was Snead who blamed himself for his team's bowl loss after fumbling the ball on the 5-yard line in the closing minutes of the Belk Bowl."Anthony—he's my guy, man. We grew up together, and we came in together," Snead said. "No one wants to be in that situation. No one wants to be where they feel like the weight was all on them. But it's not all on him. We're a team."Before the fourth-quarter interceptions, Boone was in the midst of the best game of his Duke career. He led the Blue Devil offense to score on all six of its drives in the first half, helping Duke out to a 38-17 halftime lead. The redshirt junior finished the game 29-for-45, throwing for 427 yards and three touchdowns, adding a fourth score with an 11-yard run in the second quarter.Boone was particularly gusty on his team's final touchdown drive, which he capped off by hitting tight end David Reeves for a 20-yard touchdown to give the Blue Devils a 48-38 lead. With a crowd of nearly 68,000 raucous fans in the stand and seemingly all of the momentum working against him, Boone converted four crucial third downs on the six-minute touchdown drive, feeling the pressure from the Aggie defense and remaining poised in the pocket to hit receivers in tight windows over the middle.The Weddington, N.C., native was at his best on third down, completing 11-of-12 passes in third-down situations, many of which moved the sticks. Boone's lone incompletion on third down, which came on Duke's final offensive drive, was followed by a comp.etion on fourth down that resulted in a conversion."There's no blame. He's the guy that's got the ball in his hands," Cutcliffe said of his quarterback. "He played awesome. Can't play much better than he played."But with a chance to seal his team's first bowl win since 1961 in the closing minutes, Boone made what head coach David Cutcliffe would later call "a really bad decision." He tried to fit a pass to freshman Johnell Barnes into a tight window and Texas A&M's Toney Hurd, Jr. undercut the route. Hurd needed one step before he hit a second gear and flew down the sidelines for a touchdown.Like Boone, Snead played the best game of his career before his fumble in the 2012 Belk Bowl, racking up a career-high 107 yards. But it was Snead's mistake in the final minutes that haunted him during the offseason, just as Boone's interceptions will likely do the same."Nobody is going to play a perfect game. You are going to make mistakes, it's just how you face the adversity," Snead said. "Anthony is a great leader. He's a captain now, so he's going to come back next year and lead this team to another bowl game."One year and six days removed from his fatal mistake, Snead did not shy away from the spotlight in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The redshirt junior had one of the most complete games of his Duke career under the bright lights of the Georgia Dome, racking up 104 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, catching three passes for 21 yards and a second score and coming up with a crucial blocked punt in the first quarter that gave his team significant momentum swing.Throughout the 2013 season, Snead used the Belk Bowl fumble as a constant chip on his shoulder, fueling his competitive fire. Although the running back was crushed in the minutes following the game, he said that the pain he felt for his teammate a year later was worse.If there is any consolation that Boone can take from experiencing the lowest of lows, it is that one of his classmates has faced the same odds and emerged a better leader and football player. Fittingly, the start of a new year came just minutes after Duke's Chick-fil-A Bowl loss, and with it came the opportunity for Boone to take his first steps toward a new season."It hurts. It's going to hurt," Snead said. "You just have to get over it and come back next year even stronger and better."

Johnny Manziel comes away from bowl victory impressed with Duke football

(01/01/14 11:10pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>ATLANTA—Duke quarterback Anthony Boone did not come away with the victory in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but he did gain a new fan—2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.After notching a comeback victory against Duke in what will likely be the final game of his career at Texas A&M, Manziel did not beat around the bush when addressing the team it took all of his willpower to defeat."I think that team plays with more heart than anybody in the entire country," Manziel said. "Those guys they have on their team, they play for Coach Cutcliffe, play for their coaches and their fans and their university harder than anybody in the country. It was unreal to see how much fire, how much passion, how much energy they brought into that game. It’s a real credit to them how they played today. It was pretty darn good."Manziel echoed those same sentiments on Twitter again Wednesday morning and reached out to Boone, who accounted for four touchdowns in the Chick-fil-A Bowl but also threw two costly interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Duke football falls to Texas A&M 52-48 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl

(01/01/14 9:46am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>ATLANTA—For the second straight season, Duke's bowl trip ended in heartbreak.Clinging to a 48-45 lead, quarterback Anthony Boone looked to his right for freshman wide receiver Johnell Barnes. Texas A&M's Toney Hurd, Jr. intercepted Boone's pass and returned it 55 yards for the game's decisive touchdown with 3:33 to play."It's a bad decision on my part," Boone said. "I was supposed to check it if I didn't get a certain coverage, and I just went ahead and ran a play that I shouldn't have run."On Duke's ensuing drive, Boone drove the Blue Devils down the field seeking to win the game with a touchdown, but he was intercepted again by linebacker Nate Askew to seal his team's fate. No. 20 Texas A&M defeated the No. 22 Blue Devils 52-48 at the Georgia Dome, keeping Duke's streak of 52 years without a bowl victory alive."One play never wins the game or loses the game. It's a team effort. We're a family," redshirt senior cornerback Ross Cockrell said. "We love Boone, just like we love every other teammate that we have. Boone is a great quarterback and he's going to continue to be a great quarterback."Duke's biggest question leading into the Chick-fil-A Bowl was whether or not it would be able to stop Manziel and the Aggies' prolific offense. But in the first half, it was the Blue Devil offense that put Texas A&M (9-4) on its heels. Duke (10-4) scored on each of its six offensive possessions in the first half and jumped out to a 38-17 lead heading into the locker room.The Blue Devils played aggressively throughout the contest, utilizing a surprise onside kick late in the second quarter to pad the team's lead before halftime. Head coach David Cutcliffe rolled the dice once again on the first drive of the second half, but Texas A&M snuffed out an attempt on fourth-and-1 to keep Duke from putting the game out of reach and swing momentum back in the Aggies' favor."It was big," redshirt junior running back Josh Snead said. "Johnny Manziel, he runs that offense really well, and we knew we had to try and keep him off the field. With us not executing, it gave them the ball back, and he was able to capitalize."Quarterback Johnny Manziel came alive in the second half, as the reigning Heisman Trophy Winner led Texas A&M back into the contest. After falling behind 21-3 early in the second quarter, Manziel led the Aggies on six consecutive touchdown drives, allowing his team to seize back momentum. A 3-yard run by Manziel trimmed Duke's 21-point halftime advantage to just three, rallying the raucous Texas A&M crowd at the Georgia Dome. But Boone would not be denied, leading Duke on a drive that went 75 yards in 14 plays and took 6:02 off the clock. The Blue Devils got some breathing room when Boone hit tight end David Reeves down the right side of the field and the redshirt sophomore tiptoed his way 20 yards down the sideline and into the end zone. Entering the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Reeves had caught just two passes all season.Manziel responded 1:02 later with a 44-yard bomb to wide receiver Derel Walker for his fourth touchdown pass of the day to trim the deficit back to 48-45. Playing in what could be his final collegiate game, Manziel put on a show in the second half, dodging and weaving through Duke's defense to extend plays and will the struggling Aggies back into the contest."He's an explosive player. There's a reason he won the Heisman, and he proved that tonight," Cockrell said. "He continued to make plays for them, whether on the feet or in the air. I give him his props—he's going to be a great player if he decides to go to the next level."Boone finished 29-of-45 for 427 yards and three touchdowns on the evening, but his two interceptions were what stuck with the redshirt junior quarterback after the game."We were clicking on all cylinders in every area," Boone said. "It was just a very unfortunate play on my behalf that caused two big turnovers and cost us the game."Manziel praised Duke's toughness following a game where few gave the Blue Devils a chance to even compete with the Aggies."I think that team plays with more heart than anybody in the entire country," Manziel said. "Those guys they have on their team, they play for Coach Cutcliffe, play for their coaches and their fans and their university harder than anybody in the country. It was unreal to see how much fire, how much passion, how much energy they brought into that game. It’s a real credit to them how they played today. It was pretty darn good."Despite the strides Duke made in 2013, the Blue Devils will have to wait until next year to earn its first bowl victory since 1961."We're Duke men with character," Snead said. "We're going to get through this and go back to work starting January 8th."

Duke football seeks first bowl win since 1961

(12/31/13 12:03pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>ATLANTA—The Blue Devils outplayed Cincinnati in many aspects of the 2012 Belk Bowl, but thanks to some crucial mistakes Duke's first bowl trip in 18 years came to a sour ending.Three hundred and seventy days later, the 2013 Duke squad has a chance to notch the program's first bowl win since 1961, when the No. 22 Blue Devils take on No. 20 Texas A&M at the Georgia Dome in the Chick-fil-A Bowl."We all know the taste that was left in our mouth a year ago. I can promise you these guys do. I haven't lost it yet," head coach David Cutcliffe said. "So it's extremely important that we prepare well and play well, then the chips are going to fall where they are, but we're not going to leave anything out there if we can certainly help it."The taste that the Belk Bowl loss left in Duke's mouth lingered until the first day of spring practice. When Cutcliffe assembled the team for its first meeting of the 2013 season, there wasn't much left to say. The team looked forward to a new year, and in the process created the mantra that would change the Duke football program."I saw and felt the same things that I was feeling in that team, in the leadership of that team," Cutcliffe said. "The term 'finish' is one that the players coined themselves. We didn't finish. We didn't finish the fourth quarter. We didn't finish the season."Finish was the centerpiece of an initiative that Cutcliffe refers to as "55," popularized by the phrase "55 to stay alive" from a government campaign to end speeding in the 1970s. The five pillars of 55 were what Cutcliffe considered the five keys to winning a football game—alignment, assignment, effort, execution and finish.Duke (10-3) had three goals heading into the 2013 season—finish plays, finish games and finish the season. The Blue Devils have had no problem finishing games to the tune of allowing just 3.4 points per game in the fourth quarter."I think when you see a team that plays that way that's given them the opportunity in the fourth quarter to be in those football games," Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "When you win close games the way they've done this year, you gain confidence. That's what I see. I see a team that's well-coached, well-disciplined, and very, very confident and poised at the end of the game, which means it's a really difficult challenge for us."The Blue Devils hit the field with a newfound confidence in 2013. They made their biggest plays in their biggest moments and played with confidence—a word that had not been used to describe Duke's football program for a long time. One year after entering uncharted waters for bowl preparations, the Blue Devils now consider themselves to be bowl veterans."It was a first-time experience. We really had no one in the program other than the coaches that could kind of guide them as to what to expect," Cutcliffe said when reflecting on last year's bowl preparation. "This year our leadership, our guys talked to our younger players at home about what to expect. What they expected as a team from them. I don't think there is any leadership like peer leadership, so going back-to-back, it gave us that opportunity."Duke's magical 2013 campaign included 10 victories and a second straight bowl trip for the first time, All-America honors, national coach of the year awards, a national ranking and the end of a stigma of mediocrity that spanned decades into the past. With a matchup against the Aggies (8-4) looming, the Blue Devils now have a chance to finish the season with one final milestone—a bowl victory for the first time since the Kennedy administration."We need to leave the next year's team in a good position, and the best way to do that is to get that 11th win, something that's unprecedented around Duke University," redshirt senior offensive guard Dave Harding said. "We know that this is the biggest stage that we have played on, the date, primetime, on New Year's Eve, and we have a lot of recruits watching and a lot of naysayers, and we are ready to prove them wrong, just like we have the rest of this year."

David Cutcliffe wins Dodd Trophy

(12/30/13 7:53pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>ATLANTA—Duke head coach David Cutcliffe was awarded the Dodd Trophy as national coach of the year Monday morning."I am honored, I am humbled—this is the most meaningful thing that has happened to me," Cutcliffe said. "I'm certainly very appreciative of our players. I wouldn’t be standing here if our players weren’t playing hard and executing and being the type of young men that they are."Cutcliffe adds the Dodd Trophy to his laundry list of honors from a historic 2013 season. He had previously been named national coach of the year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Maxwell Club, and won ACC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.Cutcliffe led the Blue Devils to a 10-3 season and an ACC Coastal Division championship for the first time in program history in 2013. His Duke squad will compete in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome Tuesday night.Among those in attendance for the award presentation was former Duke head coach Fred Goldsmith, who led the Blue Devils to their last winning season prior to this year back in 1994 and also won the Dodd Trophy.The Dodd Trophy is named for former Georgia Tech head coach Bobby Dodd and is awarded each year to the coach who best represents Dodd's values of success on the football field and in the classroom. The Dodd Trophy also announced an enhanced partnership with the Chick-fil-A Bowl Monday morning, as the award seeks to become what former Georgia Tech head coach Bill Curry called "the Heisman Trophy of coaching.""Coach Dodd was a man of values, and as he became a coach he became a coach of values," Cutcliffe said. "I will obviously feel very obligated to uphold everything about Coach Dodd and all these gentlemen as we move forward in this profession."This story was last updated at 11:37 a.m.

Kenny Anunike breaks down Johnny Manziel's basketball skills

(12/29/13 11:34pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>ATLANTA—In the week leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Duke and Texas A&M are competing in the Battle for Bowl Week, a competition hosted by the bowl game that pits the Blue Devils and Aggies against one another in a variety of different events.Saturday night, four members from each team had the chance to compete at halftime of an Atlanta Hawks game in a basketball skills challenge. Duke was represented by quarterback Anthony Boone, safety DeVon Edwards and wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney. Texas A&M sent quarterback Johnny Manziel, running back Tra Carson and wide receivers Mike Evans and Malcome Kennedy.As many of you probably saw on SportsCenter's Not Top 10, Johnny Football's prowess on the basketball court was suspect.

Duke run game presses on without Duncan

(12/29/13 10:12am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>In the weeks leading up to its Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup with Texas A&M, the Blue Devils learned that they would be without sophomore running back Jela Duncan, who will begin a year-long suspension due to violation of University academic policy. Duncan was the team's leading rusher, carrying the ball 113 times in the 2013 season for 562 yards.

Chick-fil-A Bowl thought about moving Duke-Elon game to Atlanta

(12/27/13 9:26pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>New Years Eve will be split bill for Duke fans across the country. In Greensboro, N.C., the Blue Devils will tip off against Elon on the hardwood at 1 p.m. for their final game of 2013 and nonconference play. Later that night, Duke will square of with Texas A&M on the gridiron in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at 8 p.m. in Atlanta.One of the primary concerns for the Blue Devils since the bowl announcement was the conflict between getting local fans to make the trek to Atlanta despite the basketball game at the Greensboro Coliseum.USA Today's Dan Wolken reported Friday that when making their decision to invite the Blue Devils to the bowl game, officials at the Chick-fil-A Bowl actually looked into moving the Duke-Elon game to Phillips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, so Blue Devil fans could be accommodated with the ultimate doubleheader.

Kurt Roper to coach final game for Duke football

(12/27/13 8:54pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>After six years on the Duke sidelines, Florida announced Thursday that it had hired Kurt Roper, the Blue Devils' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, to the same position.Roper will fulfill his duties for Duke one last time when the Blue Devils get set to take on Texas A&M Tuesday night in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta."It was the right situation for me and my family at the right time," Roper said. "It's obviously a great university that has a great tradition, and I'm looking forward to trying to add to that."Roper has been a mainstay on the sidelines for Duke head coach David Cutcliffe throughout his coaching career. The pair coached together as assistants when Roper got his first coaching job at Tennessee in 1996, and have been nearly inseparable ever since, spending 16 of the last 17 seasons together."Kurt and I have been together a long time, and I'm very appreciative of all of his contributions—whether it was at Tennessee, at Ole Miss or here at Duke," Cutcliffe said. "I've known Kurt most of his adult life. He's been a very hard worker. He's been very loyal and we wish him luck as he gets to Florida."The lone season the pair spent apart was in 2005. Roper took the quarterbacks coach job at Kentucky for one season and Cutcliffe was slated to hold the same position at Notre Dame before resigning due to his declining health.Taking the Florida position gives Roper a chance to step out from under Cutcliffe's shadow and return to the SEC. The Gainesville Sun's reported salary of $600,000 for the position does not hurt, either.Although Roper will have plenty of adjustments to make when he takes his new position, the future Gator offensive coordinator said he hasn't even done much studying on his new team yet."I know that Driskell is that quarterback and don't know much beyond that," Roper said.Roper said that his next week will be spent concentrating on Duke's upcoming matchup with the Aggies, trying to leave the program with its first bowl victory in 52 years."I've got a week here that I need to focus on and be my best for these guys one last time," Roper said. "Then when I can get everything situated and get down to Gainesville then you start focusing on that when you can."

Kurt Roper to take Offensive Coordinator job at Florida

(12/25/13 2:15am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was hired as the offensive coordinator at Florida, the team announced Thursday. Roper will coach his final game with the Blue Devils at the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Texas A&M Dec. 31."I'm excited to have Coach Roper join our staff," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said in a press release. "He has a diverse, up-tempo background on offense and does a good job of adapting to what the players do best. The most important thing though is he has always remained balanced."Roper has served as the Blue Devils' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach since 2008. He led the Duke offense to set a single-season school record for points scored this season with 411 through 13 games. The Blue Devils won the ACC's Coastal Division and made their first ACC championship game appearance in program history.After a disappointing 4-8 season, Florida fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease. The Gators were riddled with injuries at the quarterback position, going through three signal-callers during the 2012 campaign. Florida ranked dead last in the SEC in both scoring and total offense this season, managing just 18.8 points per game.Roper has spent the better part of his coaching career under the tutelage of Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe. The pair coached together at Tennessee and Ole Miss before coming to Duke together in 2008.With the hiring of Scottie Montgomery last spring, the 2013 season marked the first time at Duke that Roper had shared his offensive coordinator responsibilities. Montgomery coached the wide receivers this season and would be expected to step into a larger role should Roper depart.Roper's hiring at Florida would mean a return to the SEC. In addition to coaching the Volunteers and Rebels, Roper served as the quarterbacks coach at Kentucky in 2005 as Cutcliffe recovered from heart surgery."He has had success calling plays in the SEC and has tutored three NFL quarterbacks," Muschamp said of Roper. "He has had players produce at every offensive position and he is one of the most well-respected coaches in the country."Cutcliffe is no stranger to replacing assistants that depart for bigger positions amid his team's recent success. Following the 2012 season, Cutcliffe had to fill the voids left by wide receivers coach Matt Lubick's departure for Oregon and tight end coach Ron Middleton's hiring by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Montgomery replaced Lubick, and Middleton was replaced by Roper's younger brother, Zac.This article was last updated at 10:23 a.m.