Mr. Mike Kline of the fine DukeSportsBlog.com took the time to answer some of our questions about the upcoming Duke game this weekend. Head over there to find our responses to his queries, and continue below for his answers to our questions:
1) Did David Cutcliffe conjure up a magic elixer? What's gotten into this Duke team that's looking like its back on the path to the Spurrier days?
Well my hope that what Cutcliffe is doing tops what Spurrier did and that he won't be bolting for another school anytime soon. I think it is a combination of improvements in all facets of the program. He's got the university committed to football. Facility improvements are in the works and will be a drastic improvement. Recruiting is taking off and he is finally getting to the point where he can redshirt some guys and build up the pipeline of talent. The reason he has been successful is because he is at a program that is so starved for success they will give him time to figure it out where as some of the more established programs give you two-three years tops before you are out.
2) Are you worried about losing Cutcliffe to Tennessee? I think they miss Fulmer enough that they'd bring back Coach Cut as a harkening back to the glory days. They also have more than enough money to sway any loyalties CDC may feel, in my opinion.
I've written several times about this very concern. At this point I don't think at 58 Cut will be interested in getting back in the rat race of the SEC. He is a loyal guy and though the ties to Tennessee are strong, if he goes there and finishes 6-6 his job's in jeopardy where at Duke he could get to an ACC Title game and likely have buildings named after him. I think if he was going to leave he would have done it two years ago when Duke wasn't showing signs of life, but at this point I think he has put to much investment in the program to walk away. With that said if he wants a crack at a national championship he might be lured to a bigger program, but for now I think he is going to be Duke's coach for the foreseeable future.
3) What's Duke's defensive plan of attack? Do you think they're changing anything up for us, or is it just the same attack that we've seen all season?
Well with trying to stop an option attack you have to play disciplined assignment football. Duke did some prep work in the spring and back in August and had the bye week to work on it again. But working on it and stopping it are two different things. Stopping Georgia Tech will require that discipline but it will required smart play by the secondary. With Vad Lee more of a throwing threat, Duke's defensive backfield has to be mindful and can't get caught sleeping or they will get burned. That said they have to be aggressive in helping fill their assignments against the run.
4) Who should we watch out for on the Duke offense besides Renfree? Granted, with our defense, we should be on lookout for the whole team, but who's been the go-to threat all season long?
In the passing game it is obviously Conner Vernon who is a little over 40 yards away from becoming the ACC's all-time leading receiver. Duke also has Jamison Crowder is fast and get behind the secondary as well as Desmond Scott. The running game has been a back by committee but freshman Jela Duncan has been there best back so expect him to get carries. Also look for Brandon Connette to line up in a variety of positions, especially in short yardage and redzone opportunities.