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  1. #1
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    A Query About the Duke Football Program

    If Stanford, a prominent private university with high academic standards that plays in a solid BCS conference in football, can go from 1-11 in 2006 to 12-1 and an Orange Bowl victory following the 2010 season, why can't Duke make a similar jump?

    Theoretically, in my view, there is no reason but one -- coaching (which encompasses game strategy and recruiting).

    Now, I'm a fan of David Cutcliffe, but we're not seeing steady improvement under his watch. While Stanford went from 1-11 to 4-8 to 5-7 to 8-5 to 12-1 under Jim Harbaugh, Duke stagnated in 2010 after some modest improvement from 2007 (1-11) through 2009 (5-7). The defense simply hasn't gotten better and play in the trenches has taken a step back.

    To me, when you're coaching at a small school in a big-time conference, you have to do two things to be successful. First, you have to implement a non-traditional (or even gimmicky) offense and/or defense to make your team more difficult to prepare to play. Second, you have to recruit players that fit your system and can run it to perfection. This does not necessarily mean you have to bring in a ton of 4- or 5-star recruits. Rather, it means that you have to find the best players for your particular brand of football.

    As to the first item, Coach Cutcliffe has done a pretty good job implementing a fairly non-traditional spread offense at Duke. However, he has failed to craft any similar innovation on the defensive side of the ball. Such an innovation is necessary to stop ACC offenses, particularly on the ground. He could go to a straight 4-6 or play a base 5-2. Whatever it is, he needs to take chances and implement (or hire a new defensive coordinator to implement) a new defensive system.

    As to the second item, I believe Coach Cutcliffe has not quite succeeded. He needs to find and bring to Durham capable big men to man the offensive and defensive lines, and he also needs to bring in as many speed guys as possible to keep the spread offense moving. Finally, to truly push Duke to the next level, he'll need to develop a pro prospect at the quarterback position. To his credit, Coach Cutcliffe is trying to lure top quarterback recruits to Duke with his system and promises of airing it out. His success or failure as a head coach will probably turn on whether he finds an "Andrew Luck."

    Those are my thoughts. As a huge football fan, I want to see the Duke program become a winner. I just think they'll have to take a non-traditional path to get there. So far, I don't think Coach Cutcliffe has been non-traditional enough. Here's hoping he takes more chances and strikes gold soon...
    Let's Do This.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by J_C_Steel View Post
    If Stanford, a prominent private university with high academic standards that plays in a solid BCS conference in football, can go from 1-11 in 2006 to 12-1 and an Orange Bowl victory following the 2010 season, why can't Duke make a similar jump?

    Theoretically, in my view, there is no reason but one -- coaching (which encompasses game strategy and recruiting).
    It also helps to have a $500 million athletics endowment, a brand-new stadium and the largest state in the union that you only have to share with three other BCS programs.

  3. #3
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    Norfolk, VA
    Quote Originally Posted by J_C_Steel View Post
    However, he has failed to craft any similar innovation on the defensive side of the ball. Such an innovation is necessary to stop ACC offenses, particularly on the ground.
    Coach Cutcliffe and defensive coordinator Marion Hobby attempted to implement a 3-4 defense in 2010 in order to emphasize Duke's strength at the linebacker position. However, the 3-4 scheme was not successful so Duke abandoned it. IMO, the 3-4 requires a dominant nose tackle, which Duke did not possess.
    Bob Green
    United States Navy (Retired)
    @JBobGreen

  4. #4
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    Durham, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Green View Post
    Coach Cutcliffe and defensive coordinator Marion Hobby attempted to implement a 3-4 defense in 2010 in order to emphasize Duke's strength at the linebacker position. However, the 3-4 scheme was not successful so Duke abandoned it. IMO, the 3-4 requires a dominant nose tackle, which Duke did not possess.
    I think we also turned out not to have the linebackers to play the 3-4, as evidenced by the fact that we mostly played 4-2-5 after we bailed on the 3-4, using Matt Daniels as a hybrid safety/3rd linebacker. Hopefully some of the guys with all the physical tools develop the knowledge and instinct they need to play next year.

  5. #5

    I hate this.

    Quote Originally Posted by J_C_Steel View Post
    If Stanford, a prominent private university with high academic standards that plays in a solid BCS conference in football, can go from 1-11 in 2006 to 12-1 and an Orange Bowl victory following the 2010 season, why can't Duke make a similar jump?

    Theoretically, in my view, there is no reason but one -- coaching (which encompasses game strategy and recruiting).

    Now, I'm a fan of David Cutcliffe, but we're not seeing steady improvement under his watch. While Stanford went from 1-11 to 4-8 to 5-7 to 8-5 to 12-1 under Jim Harbaugh, Duke stagnated in 2010 after some modest improvement from 2007 (1-11) through 2009 (5-7). The defense simply hasn't gotten better and play in the trenches has taken a step back.

    To me, when you're coaching at a small school in a big-time conference, you have to do two things to be successful. First, you have to implement a non-traditional (or even gimmicky) offense and/or defense to make your team more difficult to prepare to play. Second, you have to recruit players that fit your system and can run it to perfection. This does not necessarily mean you have to bring in a ton of 4- or 5-star recruits. Rather, it means that you have to find the best players for your particular brand of football.

    As to the first item, Coach Cutcliffe has done a pretty good job implementing a fairly non-traditional spread offense at Duke. However, he has failed to craft any similar innovation on the defensive side of the ball. Such an innovation is necessary to stop ACC offenses, particularly on the ground. He could go to a straight 4-6 or play a base 5-2. Whatever it is, he needs to take chances and implement (or hire a new defensive coordinator to implement) a new defensive system.

    As to the second item, I believe Coach Cutcliffe has not quite succeeded. He needs to find and bring to Durham capable big men to man the offensive and defensive lines, and he also needs to bring in as many speed guys as possible to keep the spread offense moving. Finally, to truly push Duke to the next level, he'll need to develop a pro prospect at the quarterback position. To his credit, Coach Cutcliffe is trying to lure top quarterback recruits to Duke with his system and promises of airing it out. His success or failure as a head coach will probably turn on whether he finds an "Andrew Luck."

    Those are my thoughts. As a huge football fan, I want to see the Duke program become a winner. I just think they'll have to take a non-traditional path to get there. So far, I don't think Coach Cutcliffe has been non-traditional enough. Here's hoping he takes more chances and strikes gold soon...
    I've said this before. Stanford is a TERRIBLE example.

    First of all, since 1999, they've had only two horrible-Duke-like seasons (a 1-11 season and a 2-9 season). Duke has had 7, including multiple 0 win seasons.

    They even won the Pac-10 in 1999, a full 10 years more recent than Duke's last real ACC Title (well co-title).

    Moreover, they are known in the last 20 years athletically more for football than their other sports, despite occasional good bball performances. While they did (disputably) lose the "Band is Out on the Field!" game, it's constant replaying only helps that reputation. Moreover, they've been a school far more recently than Duke that has put plenty of players into the NFL (14 Current NFL players). And of course, the memory of John Elway is a big one....and certainly helps luring QBs like Luck.

    The end result is the fact that recruiting at Stanford is far easier and thus better than at Duke, and will ever be at Duke for the very nearby future.

    If you do want to compare an academic school to Duke, Northwestern or Vandy better fit the bill. Both are good schools academically, without a recent history as a big time contender.
    <devildeac> anyone playing drinking games by now?
    7:49:36<Wander> drink every qb run?
    7:49:38<loran16> umm, drink every time asack rushes?
    7:49:38<wolfybeard> @devildeac: drink when Asack runs a keeper
    7:49:39 PM<CB&B> any time zack runs, drink

    Carolina Delenda Est

  6. #6
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    Dallas
    Quote Originally Posted by Duvall View Post
    It also helps to have a $500 million athletics endowment, a brand-new stadium and the largest state in the union that you only have to share with three other BCS programs.
    Can't speak for Alaskans, but we Texans take offense

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Arlington, VA
    I read about the attempt to implement a 3-4 defense. I never liked the concept for Duke.

    I've been watching the Pittsburgh Steelers run the 3-4 about as well as it can be run the last 20+ years. And you not only need a stout nose tackle in the middle, you need smart and strong defensive ends capable of playing the two gap technique. Duke lacks kids that can do that.

    Further, the 3-4 isn't non-traditional enough in my view. Duke needs to craft a risky defensive scheme that takes advantage of the athletes they do have. Now, no defense can work without some big men. So Coach Cutcliffe needs to lure some hogs to Durham. But in terms of scheme I'd LOVE to see Duke try to put together a blitzing, Buddy Ryan archetypal 46 defense. Play four down linemen in traditional one-gap technique, three linebackers right behind them, and then your biggest and most athletic safety roaming around the front seven and blitzing from every angle. You could even play an "amoeba" style (all front seven players standing upright and mulling around the line of scrimmage to disguise who is rushing and who is dropping into coverage) on passing downs.

    I just want to see a coherent, non-traditional defensive scheme implemented. Soon. Like now.
    Let's Do This.

  8. #8
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    Dec 2009
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    Arlington, VA
    Quote Originally Posted by loran16 View Post
    I've said this before. Stanford is a TERRIBLE example.

    First of all, since 1999, they've had only two horrible-Duke-like seasons (a 1-11 season and a 2-9 season). Duke has had 7, including multiple 0 win seasons.

    They even won the Pac-10 in 1999, a full 10 years more recent than Duke's last real ACC Title (well co-title).

    Moreover, they are known in the last 20 years athletically more for football than their other sports, despite occasional good bball performances. While they did (disputably) lose the "Band is Out on the Field!" game, it's constant replaying only helps that reputation. Moreover, they've been a school far more recently than Duke that has put plenty of players into the NFL (14 Current NFL players). And of course, the memory of John Elway is a big one....and certainly helps luring QBs like Luck.

    The end result is the fact that recruiting at Stanford is far easier and thus better than at Duke, and will ever be at Duke for the very nearby future.

    If you do want to compare an academic school to Duke, Northwestern or Vandy better fit the bill. Both are good schools academically, without a recent history as a big time contender.
    Stanford has had more success recently than Duke, but what happened in 1999 shouldn't be effecting recruiting in 2011. I'll give you the Elway advantage, given his national prominence, but Duke should be able to build a solid program much like Stanford's.

    And hey, Vanderbilt had Jay Cutler. Where's our gunslinger?
    Let's Do This.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Skinker-DeBaliviere, Saint Louis
    California is the largest state in the Union by population. I don't see Pac10 coaches heavily recruting Alaska becuase of its large area.

    7B) Why can Stanford and Northwestern do it, but we can’t?

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    nyc
    Quote Originally Posted by J_C_Steel View Post
    Stanford has had more success recently than Duke, but what happened in 1999 shouldn't be effecting recruiting in 2011. I'll give you the Elway advantage, given his national prominence, but Duke should be able to build a solid program much like Stanford's.

    And hey, Vanderbilt had Jay Cutler. Where's our gunslinger?
    Renfree is/was considered a large recruiting win. It is not typical for a top 10 high school QB prospect to come to Duke, or other such historically win-challenged programs. If Cutcliffe is famous for anything in particular, it's developing QBs. I'm not concerned about Renfree becoming a very quality player.

    I don't know much about our defensive schemes or other aspects of the game, but I do think QB play and recruiting should probably be the least of our worries.

    My instinct would be to give Cutcliffe a lot more time to try to get it right.

  11. #11
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    Feb 2007
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    Steamboat Springs, CO

    Talking Coming out of a Deep, Deep Hole

    Quote Originally Posted by J_C_Steel View Post
    If Stanford, a prominent private university with high academic standards that plays in a solid BCS conference in football, can go from 1-11 in 2006 to 12-1 and an Orange Bowl victory following the 2010 season, why can't Duke make a similar jump?

    Theoretically, in my view, there is no reason but one -- coaching (which encompasses game strategy and recruiting).

    Now, I'm a fan of David Cutcliffe, but we're not seeing steady improvement under his watch. While Stanford went from 1-11 to 4-8 to 5-7 to 8-5 to 12-1 under Jim Harbaugh, Duke stagnated in 2010 after some modest improvement from 2007 (1-11) through 2009 (5-7). The defense simply hasn't gotten better and play in the trenches has taken a step back.
    I think you are asking a natural question. Let me help with you with some background. The poster above has already mentioned endowment and resources (yep, it's a good thing to be the largest intellectual property owner in Silicon Valley). Here's some more:

    In the ten NFL drafts since 2001, Stanford has had 31 players drafted. Duke has had one - 1 - 1.000 - uno - eine -un! Moreover, IIRC that draftee never played a down in the NFL. The next lowest total in the ACC is 17 for Wake Forest. The big boys, Miami and FSU, have had around 75 drafted in these ten years, while the bulk of the ACC -- UNC, State, Clemson -- have had around 25.

    I haven't researched wins and losses for the two programs, but I believe they would show a comparable picture of Stanford doing far better than Duke. Therefore, it is misleading to conclude that Stanford at 1-11 four years ago and Duke at 1-11 are really in the same position. Stanford has been up and down, but Duke football has been in the pits for years and years and years. It took a long time to get there, and it will take years to get out.

    I share your frustration. In my four years at Duke we won the ACC in football three times, and these weren't necessarily the glory years.

    Laying Duke's football woes at the feet of the current coach and his staff is completely unfair. IMHO (where the H is always silent) Cut knows how to coach, recruit, and run a program, and for the first time in nearly 50 years, someone is getting the resources to do it.

    sagegrouse

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Stanford has a much more recent history of football success than we do, and so Duke football is in a MUCH deeper hole than Stanford has been in.
    Their university endowment of 15 billion is three times greater than Duke's of 5 billion, and their athletic endowment is also much larger.
    Their training facilities and stadium and much larger and well-equipped than ours, though that may begin to change soon.
    Stanford has Jim Harbaugh, arguably one of the best college football coaches in the country. Cutcliffe is a great coach, but probably not on Harbaugh's level. I don't think it's a knock on Cut to say this.

    aside: I have to give props to the attitude Harbaugh has instilled in their program. In 2007 (a 4-8 season) prior to their game against #2 USC, he stated publicly, "We bow to no man. We bow to no program here at Stanford University." They then beat USC 24-23.

    Therefore, it IS NOT logical or valid to compare the two programs head-to-head.
    However, their 40-12 blowout of VT last night IS useful to show what Duke football can achieve, and it is what we should strive for.

    It is not fair to Cutcliffe to say we are not getting better enough when in 3 years we have more wins than the previous 9. Building a football program takes a long time, much longer than with basketball, and ultimately time will tell, but 3 seasons after 8 wins in 9 seasons is not enough time.

    It obviously starts with recruiting, and our classes coming in have much more depth and more than half the commitments are 3-star recruits. I think a reasonable goal for us is to expect mostly 3-stars with a few 4-stars.

    I believe the loss of John Drew, a would-be sophomore 300+ lb DT and 4-star recruit to expulsion, was a huge factor in our porous defense and 3-9 season.

  13. #13
    Let's also remember that we lost four games by less than a TD. And we lost to GT by 10, but we were up 13-6 at the half. While it would be nice to convert some of those Ls into Ws...we should also remember that we had a young roster with a scrawny OL and a pretty stout schedule. We're not as far off as you might think (laughable comparisons to Stanford aside).

  14. #14
    Why come to Duke to play football when you got State? or Unc? or Wake? Even Ecu. All have more established programs in football in state here. And out of state kids, I mean same thing.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke: A Dynasty View Post
    Why come to Duke to play football when you got State? or Unc? or Wake? Even Ecu. All have more established programs in football in state here. And out of state kids, I mean same thing.
    Easy answers:

    To get an education at an internationally renowned Top 5-Top 10 school, to be part of the movement in resurrecting Duke football, and the biggest reason, because you connect with the coaches, and you think they can develop you the best.

  16. #16
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    Durham
    Quote Originally Posted by El_Diablo View Post
    Let's also remember that we lost four games by less than a TD. And we lost to GT by 10, but we were up 13-6 at the half. While it would be nice to convert some of those Ls into Ws...we should also remember that we had a young roster with a scrawny OL and a pretty stout schedule. We're not as far off as you might think (laughable comparisons to Stanford aside).
    DING DING DING

    we had a new quarterback who struggled in several games and a young team overall....but the young team will grow....I don't know how many starters we are returning next year, but its a lot....IMHO? watch out for duke football next year....
    usa

  17. #17
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    Los Angeles
    Quote Originally Posted by J_C_Steel View Post
    If Stanford, a prominent private university with high academic standards that plays in a solid BCS conference in football, can go from 1-11 in 2006 to 12-1 and an Orange Bowl victory following the 2010 season, why can't Duke make a similar jump?

    Theoretically, in my view, there is no reason but one -- coaching (which encompasses game strategy and recruiting).

    . . .


    As to the second item, I believe Coach Cutcliffe has not quite succeeded. He needs to find and bring to Durham capable big men to man the offensive and defensive lines, and he also needs to bring in as many speed guys as possible to keep the spread offense moving. Finally, to truly push Duke to the next level, he'll need to develop a pro prospect at the quarterback position. To his credit, Coach Cutcliffe is trying to lure top quarterback recruits to Duke with his system and promises of airing it out. His success or failure as a head coach will probably turn on whether he finds an "Andrew Luck."
    So you think we should be recruiting a lot of big guys and a lot of fast guys, and we need a QB who will be the #1 pick in the NFL draft? Wow, those ideas are really way out there. I'm sure Coach Cut has never considered any of them, nor is every coach in the country looking for exactly the same thing.


  18. #18
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    Charlotte, North Carolina
    Quote Originally Posted by uh_no View Post
    DING DING DING

    we had a new quarterback who struggled in several games and a young team overall....but the young team will grow....I don't know how many starters we are returning next year, but its a lot....IMHO? watch out for duke football next year....
    Exactly. Duke's big "downturn" this year was mainly a byproduct of youth. But it was easy to see the improvement in athleticism across the board. This is a team that will develop over the next two years into a much more competitive team. And our gunslinger, Renfree, most of all.

    To each his own opinion, and what Harbaugh has done at Stanford sets the standard for building a program at an academically strong private university, but I'm more than willing to give Cut time, because I still see this program moving in a very positive direction.
    Brian Zoubek on what was going through his mind walking to the free throw line with 3.6 seconds remaining in the 2010 National Championship game and Duke up by 1: "Fifty percent [of me is] thinking, This is what I've been dreaming of doing my entire life. Fifty percent I'm crapping my pants."

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommy View Post
    So you think we should be recruiting a lot of big guys and a lot of fast guys, and we need a QB who will be the #1 pick in the NFL draft? Wow, those ideas are really way out there. I'm sure Coach Cut has never considered any of them, nor is every coach in the country looking for exactly the same thing.

    My point is that a coach has to recruit for his SYSTEM. The top-notch big guys usually flood the top football programs, but good coaches from smaller schools do an excellent job poaching trench talent by recruiting "frames" instead of "players." I've seen this work at Boise State and Northwestern (particularly during the Autry years).

    As for quarterback, Luck is simply an example. Certainly, it would be difficult for Coach Cutcliffe to lure a top-of-the-line prototype quarterback to Durham, but he can find projectable arms and try to develop them. We've all seen what Cutcliffe did with Peyton Manning at Tennessee, and I'm anxious to see what kind of signal-caller Sean Renfree turns out to be. But all that matters is results. He needs to find the best quarterback that can run HIS spread offense. That's the challenge.

    Schematically, the defense has to undergo drastic change. The 3-4 was a terrible idea, so the team should (at least in my view) implement a risky and confusing non-traditional college defense that gives running offenses fits. The 46 and 52 and "amoeba" defenses can accomplish that.
    Let's Do This.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by davekay1971 View Post
    Exactly. Duke's big "downturn" this year was mainly a byproduct of youth. But it was easy to see the improvement in athleticism across the board. This is a team that will develop over the next two years into a much more competitive team. And our gunslinger, Renfree, most of all.
    Duke needs more big guys. In my view, Coach Cutcliffe hasn't brought in enough "frames" to fill the trenches with capable players. That's going to hold back the rest of the team for years unless it's addressed quickly.
    Let's Do This.

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