The Duke Football team is 2-0 for the first time since 1998 and if you take a peek at the standings they are sitting atop the ACC Coastal Division.
It may seem strange, but the Blue Devils under head coach David Cutcliffe have become accustomed to at least modest early season successes in his sixth year, despite this being the first time that Duke is 2-0 to start the season.
Under Cutcliffe the Blue Devils have had their most success in the months of August and September with a few good Octobers tossed in for good measure. Cumulatively Duke is just over .500 over the last 6 years in the months of August through October with a record of 22-20, including this season’s 2-0 start.
That isn’t necessarily a championship quality team’s record, but it is far better than pretty much every year over the last 20 seasons predating Cutcliffe’s arival. However, when you look at the record in the month of November it isn’t pretty. Its 1-18 including 0-3 last year, the Blue Devils first Bowl season in 18 years. They finished the year on a five game loosing streak.
Cutcliffe is aware of this shortcoming as he often mentions that your team is remembered for what it does in November and unfortunately the Blue Devils, even under Cutcliffe, haven’t done a whole lot in that particular month.
Part of that has been the schedule. The Blue Devils have had a history of having to play against the heavy weights of the conference in the later months namely Florida State, Miami and Clemson. The fact that two of those teams (FSU and Clemson) are not on the schedule has many Duke fans feeling good that perhaps their fortunes in November may change, but nothing ever comes easily for Duke Football.
But injuries and the fatigue of a long season has also bore down on Duke in the later months.
Despite moving to 2-0 on Saturday they lost their starting quarterback, Anthony Boone, to a broken collar bone and will be out for an as yet to be determined period of time. Backup, Brandon Connette, played very well, but the competition will get tougher. The defense is currently ranked 9th in the country in points allowed, having given up only 7 points in two games. Yet again, the competition is just now getting cranked up.
Memphis and NC Central aren’t Georgia Tech who the Blue Devils face this coming Saturday. And if there is a team other than one of the three mentioned above that Duke has struggled with under Cutcliffe as much,its the Yellow Jackets. Duke has not beaten them since Cutcliffe took over the job.
If Duke is to continue to take a step forward and move closer to success in November they are going to have to find some success in areas where they haven’t before, even in September. They are going to have to beat a team they aren’t supposed to beat, a team that Cutcliffe has never beaten regardless of the month.
If that happens on Saturday, then perhaps Duke fans everywhere can begin to envision even bigger things but until then being happy at a 2-0 start is good, but keeping perspective may be even better.
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