What Virginia Football fans need to know about the Duke Blue Devils

dukeDavid Cutcliffe worked the miracle of miracles in 2013, leading Duke – Duke! – to a 10-win season and a Coastal Division championship.

The Blue Devils followed that up with a nine-win 2014, and an 8-5 record in 2015.

The past five-plus seasons look like a regression to the mean for Duke Football: 29-38 overall, 11-33 in the ACC.

And this was with a guy who would go on to be a first-round NFL Draft pick, Daniel Jones, quarterbacking Duke for three of those seasons.

Because of what he has done over his tenure, Cutcliffe, 67, gets to decide when he’s done, so, not implying anything here.

You get the feeling that he wants to get things built back up to where they were back in the early 2010s so that he can hand off a program better than what he inherited to the next guy.

Duke notes

  • After six games, senior running back Mataeo Durantfinds himself atop the league charts in numerous categories. Most notably, he ranks first in rushing attempts (149) and second in scoring (60 points), total touchdowns by a running back (9), rushing touchdowns (9), rushing yards (788) and all-purpose yards per game (160.50).
  • Durant continues to climb up the Blue Devils’ all-time rushing chart. Thanks to his 152 yards against Georgia Tech last Saturday, he became the ninth player in program history to amass 2,000 career rushing yards. He is currently eighth on Duke’s all-time list with 2,109 yards and is 333 away from breaking into the top five.
  • Graduate student quarterback Gunnar Holmbergmade his first collegiate start against Charlotte earlier this year. In his first six games as Duke’s starter, Holmberg has completed 132-of-182 (.725) passes for 1,616 yards with six touchdowns. The Wake Forest, N.C., native leads the ACC in pass completion percentage and has added 36 completions of 15+ yards, including a season-long 80-yard touchdown connection with Jalon Calhoun against North Carolina on Oct. 2.
  • Holmberg is first in the ACC in passing completion percentage with a mark of .725, fourth in passing yards per game (299.67). He is also second in pass completions, fifth in total offense with 1,798 yards (182 rushing, 1,616 passing), tied for eighth in passing touchdowns (six), and tied for seventh in total offensive touchdowns with 12 (six rushing and six passing).
  • Redshirt junior linebacker Shaka Heywardcurrently sits tied for third in the ACC with 54 tackles. He has two double-digit tackle games this year and has led Duke in tackles in three of six contests.
  • Junior wide receiver Jalon Calhounregistered 103 yards on six catches last Saturday against Georgia Tech, marking his second consecutive contest with 100-plus receiving yards. He currently has three 100-yard receiving games in his career (105 yards vs. North Carolina A&T in 2019; 103 yards vs. North Carolina in 2021).
  • During its last outing, Duke recorded its fourth consecutive game with a 100-yard rusher (Mataeo Durant, 152) and a 100-yard receiver (Jalon Calhoun, 103). The feat of having a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in the same game four times in a single season has happened on just one other occasion in 1989 (5x).

Betting line

  • Vegas: Virginia -11
  • ESPN FPI: Virginia 81.7 percent win probability

Forecast

Mateo Durant gets a lot of yards up through the A and B gaps, which is where Virginia is weakest defensively, with a lack of depth on the D line. This would be more of a problem if Duke wanted to run clock to try to keep the ball out of the hands of Brennan Armstrong and the UVA offense, but Cutcliffe prefers to go tempo. As a result, this one could end up being a bit of a shootout. In the end, the ‘Hoos have too much firepower, particularly with Duke suffering some issues with depth in its secondary. The scoreboard guy will be busy. Prediction: Virginia 51, Duke 34.

Story by Chris Graham


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