Monday’s are stuck with being one the most maligned days of the week. Back to school, back to work, staff meetings, projects, the beginning of another tough work week - no one looks forward to Monday. But this year during the college football season we will give you at least one reason to look forward to Monday with a reprise of Saturday’s Duke football game and a early week look at the next opponent in an offering titled “Monday Mornings.”
ME KILLS WE
DURHAM -- On Friday night prior to their game with the Memphis Tigers, the Duke football team met at their hotel in Memphis and talked about what kind of football team they wanted to be.
They discussed their team attitude. The theme of the discussion was “Me Kills We”. The focus of the conversation was all about “We”, never about me. When someone falls, someone is there to step in and keep the team strong. You win as a team, not as an individual.
Tied 7-7 at halftime, their starting quarterback was sitting in the corner of the locker room with his right arm in a sling; this team knew they had to pull together as “we” in order to win the game.
“We talked about it on Friday night, we have to win games as a team,” explained captain Ross Cockrell. “It’s not about one person; it’s about all of us.”
Adversity stayed with the Blue Devils as they opened up the second half with a fumble on their first possession.
“It was 120 degrees on the field, we had just lost our starting quarterback, it was a tough atmosphere with their fans really into the game,” explained Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe. “We came out and lost the ball and I was concerned. But when I looked at our team on the sidelines there was a different look than I had seen in the past.”
Thirty minutes later the Blue Devils had pulled together in the heat of the Liberty Bowl and put together a 28-14 victory and advanced to a 2-0 record as a team.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a game where so many areas of the team, so many individuals made tremendous plays,” said Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe. “There were so many players that gave great efforts to help win a football game.”
It was definitely a “we” team win with a notepad full of players who made a difference in the outcome of the game.
“We” is a big tackle, a clutch catch, a fumble recovery, a touchdown reception, a run for a key first down. They all mean the same. At a certain point of the game that single play may well make the difference in the game and it is the sum of all those plays, by all the players which culminate in a victory.
It’s plays by guys like Kelby Brown, Jamison Crowder, Garett Patterson, Max McCaffrey, Brandon Connette, Issac Blakeney, Ross Cockrell, Juwan Thompson, Dezmond Johnson, Will Monday, David Helton, Jonathan Woodruff, Dwayne Norman and Dave Harding that add up to a another win.
Some of those names are recognizable, some are new names. Get used to the new names; you will hear more from players like Patterson and Helton as the year goes along. You see, even with the injury to starting quarterback Anthony Boone, a blow that may have devastated past Duke teams, Duke is now a real football team. They can weather the storm of losing a big time player like Boone and still win football games.
Why? Because Cutcliffe has surrounded this team with solid football players. Receivers, running backs, linemen, linebackers and defensive backs; guys who can step up and make a difference and win football games as a team.
“We like where we are headed,” explained Cutcliffe. “But we still have a lot to do to get there.”
All year David Cutcliffe has talked about running a balanced offense. So far this year he has accomplished that even-handed dispersing of the football. In the Memphis game Duke ran the ball 45 times for 173 yards while attempting 37 passing completing 25 for 297 yards. For the year the Blue Devils have run the ball 94 times for 430 yards and passed the ball 65 times for 528 yards in their first two games. With Connette at quarterback you would think the running numbers would increase. Coming into the Memphis game, Connette was 21-for-45 passing for 253 yards, while he had rushed the ball 132 times for 420 yards and 18 touchdowns.
In the Memphis game Connette passed for 198 yards, hitting on 14 of 21 passes and two touchdowns. “He can throw the ball and he will get more chances to throw it,” said Cutcliffe.
NEXT UP – GEORGIA TECH
The Blue Devils will welcome head coach Paul Johnson and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to Wallace Wade Stadium for a 3:30 match up on ESPNU on Saturday. Duke and Georgia Tech have one of the richest histories in all of college football.
The first game took place in 1933, a game which Duke coach Wallace Wade didn’t schedule until the season had already started, trying to get Duke playing some real competition in his third year as head coach. The Blue Devils went into the game 9-0 and lost their only game of the season, 6-0, missing a chance at their first trip to the Rose Bowl. Five years later in 1938 the Blue Devils finished the season undefeated and unscored upon with a 6-0 win over Georgia Tech in the season finale placing the Blue Devils in their first Rose Bowl.
And in 1952 Duke head coach Bill Murray called Tech “the greatest team in the country” following the fourth-ranked Yellow Jackets’ 28-7 win over the sixth-ranked Blue Devils. Georgia Tech would go on to a perfect 12-0 season and the national title.
Since that first game in 1933, Duke and Tech have faced each other every season with the Yellow Jackets holding a 49-30-1 advantage. Wake Forest and North Carolina are the only opponents which Duke has a longer history of consecutive games.
This is a very interesting game for the Blue Devils, who despite playing their third game, have just one film to watch of the Yellow Jackets, a 70-0 blowout of Elon. Tech did not play this past weekend.
This could well be one of those historic games. The Blue Devils have not won three games to open the season since 1994 when they opened the year with seven consecutive wins.