Tag:Sean Renfree
Posted on: February 24, 2012 4:13 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Duke



Posted by Chip Patterson


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Duke.

Spring Practice Started: Wednesday, February 22

Spring Game: Saturday, March 31

Three Things To Look For:

1. Making sense of a crowded quarterback position. The Blue Devils return two-year starter Sean Renfree at quarterback. The senior has accumulated 6,325 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career as a Blue Devil, and is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the ACC. But head coach David Cutcliffe also used redshirt sophomores Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone often during the 2011 campaign. Both players are gifted runners and good complements to Renfree, but the pair have not been healthy/activated at the same time for an entire season. Cutcliffe even suggested there is a chance both backups could see snaps together in a game this season. With Sean Schroieder, Rob Collins, Mackenzie Soverign, and early enrollee Thomas Sirk; the Blue Devils have seven quarterbacks on the roster for spring practice.

2. Breakout stars. Duke returns 17 starters from last season, making them one of the more experienced teams in the ACC. But injuries have taken a toll on the Blue Devils during the offseason, and as many as six potential starters will be limited or out for a majority of spring practice. That list includes wide receiver Connor Vernon, who enters his senior year just 843 receiving yards shy of Peter Warrick's ACC record. With so many starters sitting out spring practice, Cutcliffe has encouraged the rest of the roster to "go take somebody's job." There could be a key contributor in the making that shows up this spring, one that could help the Blue Devils get over the hump.

3. Fixing the small mistakes. David Cutcliffe enters his fifth season with a 15-33 record. As News & Observer's Edward G. Robinson points out, that's five more wins than Duke's previous eight seasons combined. But while the improvement might be significant by Duke's standards, the Blue Devils have much higher expectations in 2012.

“We’re hunting another level of play,” Cutcliffe said. “We all know that we’ve played close games. We’ve been in a lot of games since we’ve been here really. Last year, we really did play at another level. And that level is not good enough. We have to make plays that win games. And consistently make plays that win games.”

Eight of Duke's 18 losses over the last two seasons were decided by a touchdown, with three in 2011 by five points or less. A field goal here or a defensive stop there could have put the Blue Devils back in the postseason for the first time since 1995.

To check in on the rest of the ACC and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 4:13 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Duke



Posted by Chip Patterson


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Duke.

Spring Practice Started: Wednesday, February 22

Spring Game: Saturday, March 31

Three Things To Look For:

1. Making sense of a crowded quarterback position. The Blue Devils return two-year starter Sean Renfree at quarterback. The senior has accumulated 6,325 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career as a Blue Devil, and is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the ACC. But head coach David Cutcliffe also used redshirt sophomores Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone often during the 2011 campaign. Both players are gifted runners and good complements to Renfree, but the pair have not been healthy/activated at the same time for an entire season. Cutcliffe even suggested there is a chance both backups could see snaps together in a game this season. With Sean Schroieder, Rob Collins, Mackenzie Soverign, and early enrollee Thomas Sirk; the Blue Devils have seven quarterbacks on the roster for spring practice.

2. Breakout stars. Duke returns 17 starters from last season, making them one of the more experienced teams in the ACC. But injuries have taken a toll on the Blue Devils during the offseason, and as many as six potential starters will be limited or out for a majority of spring practice. That list includes wide receiver Connor Vernon, who enters his senior year just 843 receiving yards shy of Peter Warrick's ACC record. With so many starters sitting out spring practice, Cutcliffe has encouraged the rest of the roster to "go take somebody's job." There could be a key contributor in the making that shows up this spring, one that could help the Blue Devils get over the hump.

3. Fixing the small mistakes. David Cutcliffe enters his fifth season with a 15-33 record. As News & Observer's Edward G. Robinson points out, that's five more wins than Duke's previous eight seasons combined. But while the improvement might be significant by Duke's standards, the Blue Devils have much higher expectations in 2012.

“We’re hunting another level of play,” Cutcliffe said. “We all know that we’ve played close games. We’ve been in a lot of games since we’ve been here really. Last year, we really did play at another level. And that level is not good enough. We have to make plays that win games. And consistently make plays that win games.”

Eight of Duke's 18 losses over the last two seasons were decided by a touchdown, with three in 2011 by five points or less. A field goal here or a defensive stop there could have put the Blue Devils back in the postseason for the first time since 1995.

To check in on the rest of the ACC and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 4:16 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 12 Virginia Tech 14, Duke 10

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WON. Well, a more appropriate phrase probably would include "didn't lose." The Hokies improved to 8-1 overall, emerging victorious in a game that was highlighted by six turnovers, twelve penalties, three missed field goals, and no second-half touchdowns. Duke's defense kept them in the game, but Sean Renfree could not deliver on two 4th down opportunities late in the game.

HOW VIRGINIA TECH WON: Duke placekicker Will Snyderwine was a preseason all-conference selection by several different outlets, but his 2011 performance has been completely out of character. Three missed field goals goals against Virginia Tech kept the Blue Devils from capitalizing on the Hokies' offensive struggles. When Virginia Tech needed to milk the clock, they ran their best play: feed David Wilson. Wilson kept up his steady production, rushing 23 times for 148 yards on a Duke defense that eventually could not deliver enough stops to make up for the offensive blunders.

WHEN VIRGINIA TECH WON: Duke kept getting the ball back, so this one wasn't done until Sean Renfree threw his third interception of the game on 4th down with less than a minute remaining. The junior quarterback took a beating all game, but his gritty play helped keep it competitive down to the final minutes. Virginia Tech's final point of the game occurred with 10:20 left in the second quarter.

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH WON: A win. There is so little the Hokies can take away from this performance, I'd suggest they just jump right to next week's preparation. The offensive line looked out of sync, there were too many penalties on both sides of the ball, and Virginia Tech looked very sluggish and uninspired. But a win is a win, and the Hokies remain atop the Coastal Division Standings.

WHAT DUKE LOST: Head coach David Cutcliffe called beating Virginia Tech a possible "program changer" for the Blue Devils. Between Snyderwine's missed field goals and Renfree's interceptions, there were just too many mistakes to pull the upset on Saturday. Duke has been on the cusp of bowl eligibility several times under David Cutcliffe, but the loss to the Hokies sets up what will likely be another bowl-less season for Duke football.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Matt Daniels played an absolutely fantastic game. Considered one of the leaders of the Duke defense, Daniels' contributions don't always show up on the stat sheet. Saturday was not the case, with the senior safety recording three interceptions, unofficially 14 tackles, and several key break ups to help keep Duke in the game.

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 11:51 am
 

Montel Harris (knee) questionable for ACC opener

Posted by Chip Patterson

It's time for your weekly Montel Harris injury update, and once again it doesn't look promising for Boston College fans.

Harris, the ACC's Preseason Player of the Year, has been slowly making his way back to the field after undergoing his second arthroscopic knee surgery in a year. Early prognosis after the procedure had him missing two games and returning to the field for the Eagles' ACC opener against Duke on Saturday in Chestnut Hill. Harris is officially listed as "doubtful" on the Boston College injury report, and head coach Frank Spaziani is starting to question his availability for the rest of the season.

Again, it just seems to be more bad news for the Eagles' offense. With offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers taking a leave of absence for health reasons, and Ifeanyi Momah suffering a potential season-ending knee injury, Boston College cannot seem to catch a break. The inability to find the end zone has the Eagles ranked 110th nationally in points scored, not a great trend heading into their ACC opener against quarterback Sean Renfree and the Blue Devils offense.

It is possible that Boston College could choose to redshirt Harris, and save his last season of eligibility for 2011. Harris has made his way back to the practice field several times since undergoing the surgery, and has expressed his intentions of playing to the media for several weeks. But it seems that every time the senior running back tries out the injured knee, he gets shut down by the training staff. Without Harris, the load will once again be on the shoulders of sophomore running back Andre Williams. Williams has rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns so far this season, but his intended role for 2011 was meant to be a compliment to Harris as the senior chased down the ACC rushing record.

As each week passes the chances of that record being broken, and the 0-2 Eagles returning to the postseason, seem to be dwindling.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:10 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 1:23 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 10)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Time to re-rank the ACC Atlantic. Two weeks into the season, and my projected order of finish for the division in the ACC Preview already looks way off. I'm trying to be careful not to jump to any conclusions, but I think it's safe to say my predictions (below) will not be very similar to the final standings.

1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. NC State
3. Maryland
3. Boston College
6. Wake Forest

See what I mean? No chance. So based on what we've learned from the last two weeks, here is how I would re-rank them. Consider it a "power ranking" of sorts.

1. Florida State (2-0) - No real surprise or change here. Who we thought they were.

2. Maryland (1-0) - The Terps made our jaw drops twice on Labor Day. Once when they ran out of the tunnel in those uniforms, and again when they completed the 32-24 defeat of Miami.

3. Wake Forest (1-1) - Tanner Price has been one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the ACC so far this season, and if the Deacs can learn how to hold a lead they could end up giving a lot of teams trouble this year.

4. NC State (1-1) - Quarterback Mike Glennon put together a great second half on Saturday, helping the Wolfpack fight back from a 27-6 third quarter deficit and nearly steal a win from Wake Forest. 315 yards passing and three second half touchdowns will help the first-year starter build some confidence moving forward.

5. Clemson (2-0) - The Tigers have more talent on paper than many teams in the ACC, but they also have more talent than both of their opponents this season. Unfortunately things are still a work in progress for this young team, and their showing against Troy and Wofford have been less than impressive. Can be better, should be better, just not putting it together right now.

6. Boston College (0-2) - That defense can only do so much when the offense struggles like they have been this season. From Montel Harris to losing their top receiver for the season, injuries will unfortunately be the story of the 2011 Eagles.

2. North Carolina/Bryn Renner not so flawless anymore. I opened last week's What I Learned with a glowing review of North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner. Well the sophomore faced a new challenge on Saturday with the Rutgers defense, and his performance did not match his 22-for-23 debut. Renner did complete 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards, but half of those incompletions were once again thrown to the other team. But Renner's mistakes were hardly the only frustrations for interim head coach Everett Withers. The Tar Heels were penalized 9 times for 94 yards, and finished the game with five turnovers in their narrow 24-22 win over Rutgers. After looking so sharp a week ago, the Tar Heels will have some work to do this week before kicking off the conference schedule against Virginia in Chapel Hill next Saturday.

3. Virginia Tech's greatest opponent is Virginia Tech. The Hokies have one of the most favorable schedules in the ACC, and it has been a reason that many people have penciled them in to repeat as Coastal Division champs. Virginia Tech's mental mistakes and inability to get a passing game going nearly cost them a game on Saturday in their 17-10 victory over ECU. The Hokies were penalized 12 times and turned the ball over twice, while quarterback Logan Thomas completed only 8 of 20 passes for 91 yards and no touchdowns. The defense was doing their part, holding the high-powered ECU offense to just 112 total yards. But there were too many mistakes that almost cost the No. 11 Hokies an early loss that would have crushed their potential bowl resume.

4. Duke's "breakthrough" will not occur until they fix red zone woes. Preseason All-ACC kicker Will Snyderwine shocked us when he missed a 28-yard field goal against Richmond that could have won the game. But on Saturday the streak continued with two more field goal misses in Duke's 44-14 loss to Stanford. Those missed field goals complimented a turnover on downs from the Stanford 14 yard line to equal a day of red zone troubles for the Blue Devils. Sean Renfree, Conner Vernon, and the Blue Devils offense entered this season with a lot of hype, but the inability to finish will keep the Duke in the ACC cellar in 2011 unless something changes.

5. No more coach speak, let's talk Oklahoma. All through training camp and the first two weeks of the season, the media has been frowned upon when asking questions about the early-season showdown between Oklahoma and Florida State in Tallahassee. With the Seminoles' 62-10 win over Charleston Southern, "Oklahoma Week" has officially begun for the FSU fan base.

The defense looks as ready as they could be for the Sooners' potent offense, after only allowing one touchdown in eight quarters of play. On Saturday the Seminoles' defense did not even let the Buccaneers get a first down until the third quarter, and this week they will get Greg Reid and Telvin Smith back from one-game suspensions. Head coach Jimbo Fisher admitted the Seminoles "didn't play perfect," but he was able to use the big lead to get extra quality snaps for his offensive line and running backs as they work to advance a rushing game that hasn't hit 2010's production yet.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 8:52 pm
 

Duke avoiding big game hype in 2011

Posted by Chip Patterson

Since head coach David Cutcliffe's arrival in Durham, Duke has made a habit of trying to schedule some big-time non-conference opponents. Playing a top-notch opponent presents the Blue Devils a great chance to test themselves, and possibly pull off an upset that could boost the program's status (even if temporarily) on a national scale.

But last season, the Blue Devils seemed to take a step back after defending champion Alabama put a 62-13 hurting on them on their home turf.

"Physically, we probably got beat up a little bit," Duke quarterback Sean Renfree explained. "They are more physically dominating than any team we saw. To get beat like that, it's tough to come back from. It took us a while to get our confidence back."

The Blue Devils will take on a similar challenge this fall, hosting Stanford on the second weekend of the season. The Cardinal, led by returning quarterback Andrew Luck, will likely be ranked in the top five heading into the season. However, Renfree predicts that the team will have a better reaction to the high-caliber opponent.

"I think we're going to be more prepared," Renfree said. "I think everyone on the team including myself got a little caught up in the hype. At the end of the day we have to remember we are just playing another team. I'm not taking anything away from Stanford at all, they are a very good team, but you can't get caught up in the hype."

Renfree, a junior, took a while to get comfortable in the starting quarterback role but seemed to hit a stride by the end of the season. A pro-style passer with a big arm, also said that he thought Andrew Luck's return was "good for the game of college football."

RELATED: At the same table, Duke safety Matt Daniel caught my ear referencing himself in third person. What really caught my ear? "Matt Daniels loves the rain," the senior safety told a group of reporters. I was intrigued, and made a note. Thankfully Jim Young of the ACC Sports Journal caught the entire explanation. Why does he love the rain? "Because it soothes me."

Of course it does.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 3:04 pm
 

What I learned this spring: ACC Coastal

Posted by Chip Patterson

With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the ACC Coastal Division.

DUKE: Head coach David Cutcliffe exits his fourth spring practice with the Blue Devils with as much optimism as ever, but knows that the 2011 Blue Devils have some work to do before kicking off the season against Richmond on Sept. 3.

"A successful day," Cutcliffe said after the spring game. "But I told them this is just the beginning. In college football now, [you have] the remainder of the spring term to work on weights and conditioning. And a summer that's going to very important to a young team."

Almost two-thirds of the Blue Devils roster is made up of freshman and sophomores. While youth can easily breed optimism, there is also a realistic expectation that this group needs to put in more work on the fundamentals this summer. Duke does have the benefit of returning both pieces of their quarterback rotation from 2010. Junior Sean Renfree will remain the starting quarterback, coming off a pleasantly surprising 3,131 yard, 14 touchdown season. Sophomore Brandon Connette will continue in his role as a run-first quarterback in rotation with Renfree, but the spring has shown some improvement in Connette's passing game. Defensively, we didn't learn much about Duke this spring due to widespread injuries across the unit. If anything the injuries made a talented Blue Devils offense look spectacular at times. Duke will likely not be able to escape a similar bowl-less fate in 2011, but at least now they have the athletes on the roster to remain competitive.

GEORGIA TECH: Georgia Tech set out to improve defensively this spring and try to focus on special teams. The good news is that the Yellow Jackets defense finished spring practice looking much better than the offense. Which might actually reveal more issues with the offense than it does compliment the defensive improvement. At different times this spring, both Tevin Washington and Synjyn Days have struggled in scrimmage situations against the first-team defense. Both quarterbacks have struggled to find a rhythm, and as head coach Paul Johnson said, they have been "running for their lives" on the field.

The defense was highlighted this spring by players like defensive end Jason Peters and inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, who entered spring practice as a backup. Nealy, a redshirt freshman, has seen time with the first-string this spring due to injuries to Julian Burnett and Daniel Drummond. He has made the most of the opportunity, capping off his spring by leading the Yellow Jackets in tackles during their annual T-Day game. Paul Johnson also wanted to increase the mistakes in the special teams after last season. Unfortunately that is not completely solved as Georgia Tech's kickers combined for misses from 28, 47, and 49 yards in the T-Day game.

MIAMI: Miami's spring has been much publicized due to the arrival of new head coach Al Golden . Therefore it should come as no surprise that we learned just as much (if not more) about Golden's vision for the Miami football program this spring than we did about the actual players on the roster. In following the Hurricanes this spring one word stands out to describe Golden's brief time at Miami: demand.

Golden demands that Miami play, practice, and think at a fast pace. He demanded that the Hurricanes get in better shape, and instituted a rigorous winter conditioning program. He demanded that players need to earn starting positions, and that is obvious with the unusually fluid final spring depth chart.

But will all these demands and the implementation of a new attitude around Miami catch on in time for the 2011 season? There are still plenty of question marks on the field, most notably the ongoing quarterback battle between Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris. The Hurricanes have a stable of running backs and a solid offensive line that should provide stability to the offense, and take some pressure of whichever signal-caller ends up as the starter. If nothing else, Golden has brought hype back to "The U." More than 300 former players showed up for the Hurricanes' spring game in Ft. Lauderdale, a who's who of active and retired NFL players.

Something else I learned from Miami this spring? I really need to get a Michael Irvin alarm clock.



NORTH CAROLINA: - While several former North Carolina defenders are preparing to hear their name called this weekend in the NFL draft, many of the stars from 2010's defense are still in Chapel Hill preparing for next fall. If anything, the spring showed us that the heart of of the Tar Heels' defense will be on the defensive line. The Tar Heels will be able to rotate 8-9 defensive lineman, highlighted by Quinton Coples, Jared MacAdoo, and Donte Paige-Moss. Much of the depth and added experience on the defensive line is due to the suspensions of Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn forcing players into positions unexpectedly before the season started. One of the things that makes North Carolina's line especially dangerous is the ability of several players to play multiple positions. Both Coples and MacAdoo are able to play inside or out, and that versatility can benefit a team when injuries hit during the long season. One of the biggest surprises on the already deep defensive line has been the play of junior college transfer Sylvester Williams. Williams has been building buzz since he arrived in Chapel Hill, and could end up challenging Jordan Nix for a starting defensive tackle job by next fall. North Carolina's secondary is a concern once again, making it even more important for the defensive line to put pressure on the quarterback to prevent opposing wide receivers from getting space down the field.

Offensively much of the focus will be on quarterback Bryn Renner, who is taking over for four-year starter T.J. Yates. Renner showed promise at times this spring, but he is still getting accustomed to his new role as leader of the offense. Thankfully he'll have Dwight Jones and Erik Highsmith to throw to, and an experienced offensive line to give him time to operate. Ryan Houston was a touchdown machine in 2009, but after redshirting last season and undergoing shoulder blade surgery this summer the depth at running back will be a concern heading into the fall.

VIRGINIA: Earlier this year, head coach Mike London made headlines by pulling in yet another unexpectedly strong class on National Signing Day. Unfortunately, these small victories will take some time before they translate into more marks in the "W" column for the Cavaliers. This spring did not answer many of the questions that existed near the end of last year's four-win season. Defensively, the Cavaliers return seven starters from a unit that finished only better than Duke and Wake Forest in both scoring and total defense. Improvement from those numbers will be necessary considering the lack of offensive firepower.

Virginia rotated through four different quarterbacks during their spring game (Michael Rocco, Ross Metheny, Michael Strauss, and David Watford), but no candidate stood out among the group. The offensive line has been porous, and the Cavaliers still lack an answer at running back as well. What did I learn about Virginia? Greener pastures may lie in their future, but unless someone steps up to make the Cavaliers a threat on offense they will have a difficult time keeping up with opponents in 2011.

VIRGINIA TECH: Not to drone on about new quarterbacks, but when a sophomore takes over for the ACC Player of the Year it is going to turn some heads. Logan Thomas has looked impressive this spring, grabbing most of the positive notes out of Blacksburg across the last several weeks. He finished spring practice as the star of the spring game, throwing for 131 yards and two touchdowns while also leading the Hokies in rushing with 46 yards on just five carries. However, Thomas' impressive performance did showcase some depth issues for the Hokies on offense. With starting running back David Wilson away with the track team, backup running backs Daniel Dyer, Josh Oglesby, and James Hopper struggled against the Hokies' defense in the spring game. Last season head coach Frank Beamer had the benefit of three NFL-caliber running backs to choose from, right now it looks like Wilson is the only competent option. The backup quarterbacks did not fair well either, with second-string Ju-Ju Clayton completing just three of his ten passes, and tossing two interceptions.

Defensively, Virginia Tech's returning talent seems charged up by the 40-12 lashing they took from Andrew Luck and Stanford in the Orange Bowl. The competition on the field has been aggressive, and defensive coordinator Bud Foster has not backed down from calling his team's performance in that game "unacceptable." Players to keep an eye on heading into the fall include linebacker Tariq Edwards and defensive end James Gayle, who was voted the spring defensive MVP. For those still curious, wide receiver Danny Coale did punt in the spring game and is still considered in the running for the job come fall.
Posted on: February 16, 2011 12:16 am
Edited on: February 16, 2011 12:19 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: Duke

Posted by Chip Patterson

College Football has no offseason. Anyone will tell you that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Duke - the first FBS team to open Spring Practice.

Spring Practice Question: Can David Cutcliffe finally make the Blue Devils a contender for bowl eligibility?

For the second year in a row, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe has the Blue Devils on the field earlier than anyone in the ACC. He doesn't do it to steal any thunder from Mike Kryzewzski and the men's basketball team, but in order to start answering the many questions heading into the 2011 season.

The bar was set pretty low when Cutcliffe took over in 2007. Duke had only won four games in their last four seasons under the direction of Ted Roof, and the coach of SEC fame at least brought some excitement to Durham. But eventually excitement will turn into expectations and in order to put a mark on his time at Duke, David Cutcliffe needs to get to the postseason. It's something that Duke has not done since 1994, and the closest they came was their 5-7 record in 2009.

That was the last season that Duke's career-passing-leader Thaddeus Lewis played for the Blue Devils, and the focus for 2011 begins with his replacement. Sean Renfree showed great promise at times in 2010, throwing for 3,131 yards and 14 touchdowns. Unfortunately the sophomore signal-caller also tossed 17 interceptions, though he only threw two in the final five games. There was a steady improvement throughout the season, as Renfree became more comfortable with Duke's crop of talented wide receivers - led by All-ACC junior Conner Vernon. But the passing game is not the number one concern for Duke's coaching staff here in spring practice.

“It all starts in the line of scrimmage right now for us,” Cutcliffe said about his focus for spring practice.  “Our capabilities up front allow us to make all the decisions on what we’re going to do.  If we can’t stop the run and hold up defensively, it’s very difficult to play quality defense.  That’s been the biggest challenge.  We are reloading a group that we think runs better and is going to be bigger and more talented, but they’ve got to show us this spring.  And offensively, first is to settle on the right five.  For the first time, we really have some competition in the offensive line.  With the mix of younger and older guys, it’s going to be pretty interesting.  My absolute focus is going to be more on the interiors of both lines.”

Rebuilding that defense will be especially difficult without graduated senior linebacker Abraham Kromah, the ACC's second leading tackler in 2010. Safeties coach Jim Knowles moves up to defensive coordinator, trying to turn around a unit that ranked 109th nationally in scoring defense, and 104th in rushing defense.

Despite all the poor statistics looking back at Duke's 2010 campaign, a few bounces in conference play could have significantly changed their season. Duke lost four ACC games by six points or less last season, leaving revived Blue Devils football fans shaking their heads once again.

There was bound to be a drop-off from 2009, but with a rebuilding year behind them it is time for Duke to make their move in the ACC. Excitement has turned into expectations in Durham, and if Cutcliffe can't deliver in 2011 there will be several more questions for 2012. Most notably: how many more losing seasons can the head coach last?

Duke will play their annual Spring Game on March 26 in Wallace Wade Stadium

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com