It may have been the Duke Football team’s bye week and the player may have the next two days off but it has been far from just a down week for the Blue Devils.
Several news items came out of the week, perhaps most notably were some rewards and recognition that was handed out to several of the players.
Freshman place kicker Ross Martin was honored with being named as one of 20 semi-finalists for the Lou Groza Award given to the nation’s most outstanding place kicker. Martin so far this season has delivered on his high billing and that has been most welcome for a Duke Football program that has lost a number of close games over the years due to poor place kicking.
Martin has totaled 83 points through 10 games this season, making 16-of-18 field goal attempts and all 35 of his PATs. In the ACC, he ranks seventh overall in scoring (8.3 points per game), third in field goals per game (1.60) and second in field goal percentage (.889) according to Duke Sports Information.
The winner for the award will be announced on December 6 at the Home Depot ESPN College Award Show.
Some other good news for Duke Football was the announcement that four players were named to the Academic All District III team. The players include quarterback Sean Renfree, offensive lineman Dave Harding, cornerback Ross Cockrell and offensive lineman Perry Simmons.
Duke had the most selections to the team from any in the ACC and had the most representatives from any team in District III.
The other seemingly big news item was the continued talk about whether or not Duke head coach David Cutcliffe might consider leaving at the end of the year as his stock and the interest in him rises. Considering Cutcliffe has done what few thought possible, making Duke Football a legitimate contender to play in the ACC Title game, the national interest has naturally grown.
Cutcliffe has said on numerous occassions already this season that he is not going to take job offers during the season, a statement that has left some Duke fans a bit uneasy since it wasn’t a firm confirmation that he would for sure stay.
However, Cutcliffe has also said that Duke has been loyal to him and he likes to reward loyalty. He has said in press conferences and on his weekly radio show that he is happy at Duke and in my opinion I don’t believe you will see Cutcliffe leaving any time soon considering what he has built as the Blue Devils head coach.
Obviously the usual suspect, Tennessee has creeped into the discussion and with their continued struggles and rumors that a coaching change might be made, Cutcliffe thanks to his ties there, has been mentioned.
He also has been thrown into the discussion for the soon to be vacant Kentucky head coaching job. The Wildcats recently announced the firing of their coach Joker Phillips and Cutcliffe’s name has come up, though more recently former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino was said to be interested. Regardless though of who is interested I still don’t think Cutcliffe leaves Duke.
All in all it has been a busy bye week even if there are no football games to prepare for this weekend. Duke will take the next two days off and come back to regular game week preparations on Sunday as they get ready to take on Georgia Tech next Saturday. At 6-4 (3-3 ACC) Duke still has a chance to win the ACC Coastal Division by winning there next two games.
The Blue Devils are already bowl eligible, a feat they haven’t managed since 1994. The last time Duke won a bowl game, however, was the 1961 Cotton Bowl. This team can improve their bowl status but at the very least would likely play in the Military Bowl if they were to lose their remaining two games.
If they were to win their next two games, or at least one the chance of a more prominent bowl could await and obviously if they were to win the ACC Coastal Division and play in the ACC Championship game there is always the chance of getting into the Orange Bowl. That being said, Duke doesn’t have the luxury of thinking ahead and must be ready for an always tough Yellow Jacket squad when they travel to Atlanta next week.
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