Season Report Card: Duke
Let’s see how the Blue Devils graded out during their historic season.
If you take away the loss against the eventual national champions Florida State in the ACC Championship Game, the Duke offense was quite impressive throughout the season. Something must have clicked after the team’s 58-55 loss to Pittsburgh on September 21, which was probably due to the fact that starting quarterback Anthony Boone returned from missing three games, as he suffered a broken collarbone against Memphis. Duke went on an eight-game winning streak to finish the regular season. During that run, the offense averaged 32.7 points per game. In the eight-game stretch, the Blue Devils defeated No. 14 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, 13-10 (the Hokies finished fourth in the country in total defense) and No. 23 Miami (Fla.) 48-30. Duke finished the season in the Chick-fil-A Bowl versus No. 21 Texas A&M and scored 48 points off 661 yards of total offense, but still came up short. The offensive performance of the team is something to marvel at. The Florida Gators took notice of all the success Duke had this season and hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper for the same position.
Some defenses have the “bend don’t break” mentality. That’s a great description of the Duke defense. Yes, the unit gave up over 50 points in two losses this season, but was good enough to win the ACC Coastal Division. Three players were named to the 2013 All-ACC team: Kelby Brown (LB), Ross Cockrell (CB) and Jeremy Cash (S). That's quite the accolade for Duke football. The Blue Devils’ defense was able to give the offense a chance to win, plain and simple. Granted it gave up points (allowing 26.6 per game), it was still able to win games. Sometimes it's all about being able to survive and advance, and that’s exactly what the defense allowed the team to do.
This past season will go down as the best in Duke history. Coach Cutcliffe was named AFCA’s National Coach of the Year, leading his team to its highest final national ranking (24th in the BCS standings) and its first 10-win season. It was simply a magical season for the Blue Devils, one that could possibly kick-start the program into an ACC contender for years to come.