A Preseason Look at Duke

Another in-depth look at our 2021 opponents by Rich in SC.

Trying to find a story line or interesting tidbits on the Duke football team is like having your teeth pulled – a slow and painful experience. After three evenings of starts, stops, rewrites and erasures, I just decided to gum my way through it. Why is it hard? You probably know or guessed the answer – Duke is a Basketball School.

David Cutcliffe enters his fourteenth season with the Blue Devils. His overall record is currently standing at 74 – 88 (35-71 ACC, 36 – 13 OOC, a bowl record of 3 – 3, and finally 0 -1 in conference championship games. If you ignore the 2020 season, Duke basically averages going 3 – 1 in OOC play. His golden years at Duke was the time period from 2012 – 2015. His teams were 33 – 20 (18-14 ACC, 14-2 OOC, and four bowl appearances (1-3).  His best year was 2013. A 10 – 4 record (6-2 ACC,    4-0  OOC and a conference championship appearance (loss).

AS usual, I start off the preseason look with Duke’s and Pitt’s 2021 schedule.

On to the review, starting with recruiting.

Duke’s recruiting is not very accretive (JoeL ☺).

Duke took in 4 players from the transfer portal (TP).

I hate to say it, but this TP haul reminds me of Pitt’s pre-TP search for OLinemen and tight ends. Who are the Duke players to know?

Usually, I start this by listing the returning 2020 All ACC selections followed by the 2021 Athlon All ACC selections. There are no returning 2020 selections. The 3 players Duke had, went pro. Instead, I have listed the two names besides Mataeo Durant who attended the 2021 ACC Media Days.

Speaking of the ACC Media Days, the ACC released the 27 man (13 offense, 11 defense, three special team) 2021 Preseason All ACC team.

Howell Named Preseason POTY, Clemson Leads with Eight on All-ACC Team – Atlantic Coast Conference (theacc.com)

The team was selected by 147 media attendees. Mataeo Durant’s name is in bold to mark his selection.

That wraps up the recruiting, TP additions and ‘names to know” section of the review.

What payers did Duke lose?

As I said previously, Duke lost their three All ACC selections to the pros. Their names are in bold. Here is the complete listing.

One TP entry from Stanford. Mark Gilbert opter-out of the 2020 season.

Of course, they lost a few players to the TP

I do not know much about Duke, but I believe they lost at least 3 starters – QB Brice, Safety Waters and DT Tangelo.

Brice will be replaced by 2021 ACC Duke Media Days representative Gunner Holmberg. He had 48 snaps where he either passed (25 snaps) or ran the ball (23) during the 2020 season.

That all I got. There is some grumbling from the Duke fan base on Cutcliffe tenure but probably not going anywhere. After all, Duke is a Basketball School.

84 thoughts on “A Preseason Look at Duke

  1. Pitt fans usually drool over a ranking when Pitt is up at the top end – but this one is a bit different. These are the “Stability Ratings” of college football teams. These take into account the Coaching, Roster and Performance aspects of a program then ranks them.

    Pitt fares well at #11 out of 130 teams… but we Pitt fans know something the author of this articles does not. We are stable because we are stuck in the mire of mediocrity – in other words average or ordinary. Others may look at that #11 spot and think well, that is good for them.

    Knowing Pitt fans look at this and think “Same Old Pitt”.



    1. Stability is a low risk strategy that leads to complacency and lack of innovation.

      You grow through change

      Pitt is perfectly content with the status quo. And frankly so are most fans.

      Content with viewing games at Heinz

      Content with 7 win seasons and a lessor tier bowl game

      Content with having a clean program with high character players

      Nothing will change unless university leadership and fans, particularly those with money, want something different.


  2. The above was the feature article for the “Pitt” section of the Tribune-Review for today… Pat Narduzzi’s response? “Hey, if they can play in Panther Hollow why can’t we?”


  3. Stability?
    We’ve been stable for 37 years. Some accomplishment…that.

    Nice assessment of Doook.
    They will be just another victory in our 9-win season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Way to go GAS. You’re selling that 9 win mantra hard…I totally agree with you. I believe camp starts next week sometime. It’s gonna be fun.


  4. Not being a downer here. Duke catches Pitt after Pitt plays VT, Clemson and Miami in successive weeks. After the Duke week, we play NC. Most would prognosticate a trap game here. I don’t. I think Duke is awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Didn’t Capel & crew get a W against Duke ? and the 2 games for Duke before Pitt….is a Bye week & Wake Forest.


    2. Huff- if we win 2 out of 3 of those somehow, I will bet my next paycheck we lose at Duke. Go 0-3 and I will also bet…we win in that case.


      1. lol – i was a bit afraid to type anything so spot on…….thanks for handling that one. It could go alot of different directions that month.

        If we go 0-3 and lose to Duke because our tail is between our legs, some will argue that it was indeed a trap game just because the same some will say we lost focus because we wanted to beat UNC. Tough crowd!


        1. We go 0-4 in that stretch – or any stretch this year – and it would be hard to argue the Duzz should not go.
          The OOC is in our favor. Need to go 3-1 there at a minimum. Needs to go at least 5-3 in conf.

          So, min. is 8 wins. Everything is set up for the team this year. Hope he/they surprise us all.


  5. Stable mediocrity is by design. The administration and fans want it that way.

    Saves the university money and time because it takes both to achieve excellence. Takes leaders, hard work, creativity and risk taking.

    Takes fans who won’t accept the bull that the university is pushing and selling.

    Pitt and fans deserve this. Fans wanted stability. Well, this is what you get.

    Fans give a free pass to Pitt leaders.

    Seriously, the BoT gets criticized and rightfully so but fans need to look into the mirror.

    By donating and attending games, you enable this stability.

    I suggest you blow it up.

    How does one do that figuratively?

    You start planting seeds. You start becoming influencers. You start thinking big.

    You boycott economically. Hurt pitt financially.

    You push for a feasibility study

    You demand accountability from leaders for results.

    You demand an athletic mission statement

    You suggest a change in the BoT structure and composition

    You demand a say by advocating a new Golden Panthers club

    You embarrass, shame and put the screws to the leaders in charge by writing to the news editor, posting on social media and twitter, writing to the university, getting to know a booster, asking tough questions and demanding answers

    But Pitt fans do little and still have the gaul to complain and expect anything other than stable mediocrity.

    There is power in numbers if Pitt fans ever wake up and realize that. But more importantly, pitt fans need to want change.

    Most on here are afraid to have Narduzzi fired. Most on here won’t dare question AD Lyke and Chancellor Gallagher on anything. Most on here blame things and come up with convenient excuses.

    Who wants to go around in life being mediocre? Well, The vast majority of Pitt fans do. Thanks for that meaningless ranking just like that meaningless participation trophy Narduzzi won.

    Tex – who looked into the mirror a long time ago and did something about it.


  6. Thanks for the article, Richard. It goes without saying that this article has a certain je me sais quoi… 😊

    Couple mediocre thoughts:

    — I wouldn’t be surprised if Carson Van Lynn starts for Duke, and if so, good for him.
    — Gotta like a QB named Gunner!
    — We’ve had some exciting games with Duke.

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. But what does that make Pitt?

    Right now Pitt is a soccer and volleyball school

    So miss lyke has succeeded in her stated objective when hired. Improving secondary sports.

    And that’s gotten Pitt what?


  8. There was this canadien rock band I used to listen to and see their concerts. Local places in Toronto and buffalo. One line to a song had America first, the rest get the pieces.

    Miss lyke should have made a connection with those lyrics. Well if she wasn’t busy in Michigan and Ohio dabbling in compliance matters.

    But what one program substitutes for America?

    Her bottom ups strategy is no way to run a sports department.


  9. Wow! I finally got it! If Pitt fans would boycott the games, leaving attendance of 10,000 or so, the Pitt administration would have no choice but to hire away Saban or Swinney at whatever price it took …. $25M, $30M, $50 Million …. doesn’t matter. 5 Star recruits would flock to Pitt. All our games would be played in prime time. Billionaire alums would be tripping over each other to pour money into our coffers. Why didn’t I see that before? Shame on me!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. They would have no choice but to start taking sports seriously. Money is the only language they understand. Never forget that.

      They are a business even if they don’t act like one.

      You can only steal from the general fund so much for so often before a board member awakens and posits a question.

      Questions illicit answers.

      The game begins.


    2. it’s about time farmers…….sheewww!

      the next generation may prove your attendance projections to be true.


  10. En Vogue had a song back in ‘93

    Lyrics go ‘free your mind and the rest will follow’

    Not your ‘butt’ like the 1970’s lyrics from another band.

    If you free your mind, the possibilities are endless. And you don’t need to be high on anything other than life to do it.

    I suggest you give it a try.


  11. Rich, thank you for the Duke preview. Well written! Some may pooh-pooh Duke football, but some of their games have been thrillers. I think it was the 2018 Pitt-Duke game at Heinz where Pitt came from behind to win in the last seconds in a high scoring game. For a fan who attends all Pitt home games for their entertainment value, it was spectacular! I remember enjoying the end of that game with Fran and Scooter, then having a beer back in Red 5A with them to celebrate the win. I normally don’t do that before getting on the road but it felt mandatory at that time.

    Tex, I mean no offense. We are both passionate about Pitt but we happen to have different opinions. I attend every Pitt home football game. At my age, I have learned to accept entertainment value, even in a loss. I don’t like losses but accept them as part of being a sports fan. I have been a Pitt fan through a National Championship, three 11-1 seasons, a couple of 2-9 seasons, and everything in between. One thing that every season has had in common: none of them have changed my life. I see the current college football landscape differently than you. We are one of the 100 or so football programs who will struggle to compete against the elite. That’s just the way the system is structured. I don’t fault the athletic administration, the Chancellor, or the Board of Trustees. We don’t have 100,000 alums willing to spend any amount to field a National Championship football team. I am one of them. I suspect most of us on this forum are also.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. We can both agree that we are passionate Pitt fans.

      I do find fault with the leadership team. To me it’s an unforgivable offense.

      We see things from different perspectives which is fine.

      But I see the potential in pitt if they just had the will. And unfortunately they never did.

      Tom, Lou and Dave are the game changers. Will they step up and answer the call?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Farmers – fully agree with your post. Was about to write the same thing.

      We’ve had a few nailbiter/thrillers with Duke… a couple down there as well.

      Recall Menassah Gardner (sp) making a clutch catch on a fade thrown by Tom Savage to seal a game when our D couldn’t stop Duke’s offense.

      They are a good school to be associated with. Love the fact that Pitt played in the first game ever at Wallace Wade Stadium, whic is a great example of how to remake an old stadium.

      Rich – enjoyed the read. Hope to see you in Durham come Nov.

      Liked by 4 people

    3. Wolfe — that game at Heinz was really fun. Can’t remember the name of the player who had a big game for Pitt, but was sitting near his Dad. Was cool seeing his Dad and all the fans around his Dad enjoying the performance.

      Duke kept scoring and somehow Pitt kept up with them, then I recall us getting some stops in the second half and winning on a big throw from KP… A fun night.

      Go Pitt!

      Liked by 1 person

    4. What is the spend exactly Farmers? What is the plan. If the AD was confident, she would outline the plan for a national championship, what she believes it would cost, the resources needed, and the timeframe within which to accomplish it. She then gives the PLAN to the BoT and says something like this “If you want an “A+” program, this is what I need. Yes or NO? That is how you get things done. When I present to BoT’s that is exactly how I frame my management of them. I outline the issue and give them various options, followed by yes or no. Personally, I don’t care if they choose A or C, I just want to know. Then, I have a decision to make as to whether I want to stay at a place that wants something less than I am willing to work for. When it is not an A answer from the BoT, I am out. I don’t support “C”…unless the organization is an “F” and they want to get to “A” in a longer timeframe and a “C” is attainable short term.

      I type often of organizational brand, but personal brands come into play. Pitt has an awful reputation brand for athletics. Those that are in the program are not viewed as rising stars. Quite the opposite. They are viewed as mediocre….mainly because they accepted mediocrity and stayed.


    1. My apologies. I’m still stuck on an 8th grade level from that MPC article. Your help and others actually pushed it to 9th grade so I’m very appreciative. Reed did give me some good advice about parsing. So the blame is all on him. 🤠

      Liked by 1 person

    1. L’Vique Carter
      E. Reynolds
      Carson Van Lynn.

      A few fellas who left.

      Great highlight video!

      We’re gonna have nine of those at the end of this year.



      1. Gas – Hope you didn’t double secret jinx us! We typically see nine videos of the pitt D getting scorched by first round draft picks during the nfl draft specials. I am sick of those snippets. The good news is sometimes the uniforms look like tulsa, or navy, or gtech, Maybe the mix up on school colors is purposeful by the AD to confuse people until we get better.

        Wasn’t it last year when many on here predicted 3 Pitt first rounders? Or was that the year before that and the year before that and the year before that and….


    2. Interesting that KP was only 8 for 18 for 150 yards, yet Pitt scored 54 points! The bad old days…

      Scoring 19 in the 4th Q while holding the other guys to 3 is a good thing…

      Go Pitt.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Farmers – I remember that game very well. Brought one of my golf buddies from VA up for that. (he went to Duke). On our way into town that Fri, we stopped in Squirrel Hill for a pint at the Squirrel Hill Cafe.

      Was surreal to see the disturbing news the next morning out of Squirrel Hill.

      The game was really going his way and although he tried to be magnanimous about it, he just could not…. being a Duke grad after all. Despite that, I almost felt a bit like a bad host when I went nuts after that game-winning TD pass. But only for a wee bit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. AccuWeather forecast for September 4th: High of 85, 0% chance of rain. Fran and I will be outside the gate of Lot Red 5A when it opens at 11 AM. We will have the tables, flags, chairs and other paraphernalia set up by 11:15. ABSOLUTELY can’t wait to see everyone! It’s been a loooong year and a half. Ike, with all due respect, GET YOUR ARSE DOWN THERE! Apologies if you can’t. We are just anxious to see you, buddy.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. My juices don’t get flowing beating Duke, sorry. It’s like watching a bunch of college kids against a bunch of high school seniors, beating them and then puffing out the chests like they are so good! Having a close game against Duke in football is not a good thing….basketball, yes! I always want pitt to win and actually predict it every week (along with a crazy strategy for doing so).

    The AD has no strategy for getting the last two generations (40 Years) of “no brand”, back into the fold before they lose another generation. My kids are leaving for better schools academically and athletically, all because they want to be surrounded by an overall winning culture. You can have both. With NIL, there was a level set. Pitt was not prepared and did not have sponsorships lined up…except for Kate (K8). Pitt misses the boat in all these areas and they don’t care (see reed letter to the AD).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. HeyDan, I am honored!! Will send you an email. You are officially on the prayer list attached to the refrigerator along with Ike and Rachel. I will be in Pgh for hockey and will send you the date when the schedule finalizes. New Jersey/ New York may be on the list too, but mostly Detroit, Chicago, Minn, Frisco, and Vegas.


      1. My daughter specifically said she wanted a school good in both sports and academics. That rules out Pitt. She’s applying to Texas instead.

        Well plus she’s into the whole Austin vibe. It is a cool city with its music and movie and just weird stuff always going on.


          1. I do worry about her. My son is the chem engineer. He’s a book worm. Daughter takes after me. Austin won’t be the same. 🤠


  14. Hi Fran,

    I miss all of you. I’ll be at the ocean that week but will be back for W Michigan ,
    Clemson and UNC. Had quite the health scare this week. Makes me appreciate all my friends and Pitt Sports even more.. no matter the results. See yuns at golf in 3 weeks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting take on ACC coaches on the hot seat. The guy who picked Narduzzi has Pitt going 4-8 with ONE ACC win vs Duke.

      He also has Pitt losing to Tennessee. I just went onto Ourlads.com to look at the Vols 2-deep. They are loaded even after the mass exit of players and a new coaching staff. On D they have three players with only 3 years of experience on the Tennessee roster – the other projected starters on D have 4 + years of P5 experience. Whipple will struggle to find the end zone in early September.


        1. Sorry Dan. No way Nard posts a 4-8 record this year. I think you’re lite 3 or 4 games in the win column.


          1. I am a proponent of the easy OOC schedule.Fortunately the AD listened this year and pitt finishes ooc at worst 3-1, but 4-0 a good possibility. Vegas typically leans to the team that has the most returning starters during the first 4 games of the year…..just sayin.

            That’s as far as I go on predictions because of key injuries that take place for both teams during the year which throws pre-season predictions in the garbage. That is why I laugh at all the prognosticators for guessing, and laugh at all the fans for calling them out as idiots after the season. I guess that is fun for some. Doesn’t make any person smarter or dumber or dumberer. Just stupid fodder and noone on here is super smarter than anyone else. Just a luck of the prediction.

            You can really only predict that the teams with the best talent and easiest schedule will make it to the playoff, with a bout one or two potential surprises. Other than that, enjoy the losses and the wins. Back in the day, Pitt was the TEAM that everyone envied. Today, Pitt is the team noone wants to model themselves after…for anything….especially the quarterback trot option.


        2. I expect more from the $5 million dollar man.

          What did steve Austin cost played by Lee majors a big fan of Johnny. Majors not walker.


      1. Four is an outlier.

        Most publications are 6-8.

        Nobody except Gas is predicting nine.

        And nobody and I mean nobody is predicting ten.

        And if Narduzzi can’t hit ten at this point, he never will.

        Tex – no paragraph, only sentence.


        1. I’ll go in on ten wins. I would optimistically say 9, but Heather’s leadership, inspiration and AD of the year trophy gets them an extra win for 10.

          I will believe until that first unexplainable loss hits us over the head.


          1. That’s very generous. I can see pitt losing to Western Michigan, clemson, Miami, North Carolina and Syracuse. I’m saying 7 wins and maybe a bowl win against another Mac team for 8.


      2. UT has the talent, but will they be ready after a change in coaches? That’s the big question.

        I think it will be a low scoring game.


    2. Three losers in their parents basement talking like they are experts. Got to love the internet. POVers bring much more insight.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love basements. The Cathedral has a good one. Just don’t get lost down there. I think I accidentally passed through some restricted areas. Some weird science was going on.


    1. I study guitar and SRV is one of the best ever. He basically started Texas Blues. His speed is a bitch to copy.


  15. Yes it is. It’s by a park along the lake.

    I plan on making a pilgrimage there when I move my son in for school.

    One of the top ten guitarists ever and taken far too soon.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I will check it out. Very excited to get back to Austin. I’m glad my son chose a city school. Daughter will most likely be there next year. She’s already talking SEC. I just wish more Pitt fans could be like her.


    1. I was at Pitt when he died. Was walking on campus when I heard the news. He was only 35 when that copter went down.


  16. Last year it was August 7

    But I see nowhere about this year

    That’s horrible on the AD

    I would have had Lou begin starting June one and announcing every week building the anticipation and getting more stoked the closer we get

    Pitt can’t market Mexican beans to an Irishman.


      1. The guy I went to school with. Lou to the Rescue Riddick.

        Pitt however could use body builder Lou on the O line. He would do more than just a pancake block. I’d hate to be the guy on the other end.


  17. Yep, only five weeks until the first game! Fall camp starts in a week or so. So I open up the Sunday PG with anticipation and, you guessed it, no story on Pitt football. Meanwhile, they are practically going insane over Ben’a weight or Enron’s blocking. What is going on?


  18. Since this started about Duke, they’ve just announced their 2nd top 20 BBall recruit in a week.

    Yeah, Pitt can play with them…. sure! Kinda like Duzz is going to win 9 games!

    Liked by 1 person

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