Eric Russell

Duke's Run Shouldn't Be Too Surprising

Created on Nov. 29, 2013 6:24 PM EST

Duke could reach uncharted territory with a win over rival North Carolina on Saturday. While a 10-win season would be the first in program history and a surprise to most football fans, perhaps it shouldn't be.

Coming into the season, we knew Duke had some potential. The team was coming off a trip to the Belk Bowl, in which they competed well. The Blue Devils also were returning several key players on both sides of the ball. Along with the maturation of other players, take away the name "Duke" and its stigma, and it's a solid football team.

Sharing Is Caring

It's generally believed that two-quarterback teams aren't good. That hasn't been the case for Duke. Anthony Boone has struggled with consistency at times, but he and Brandon Connette have combined to make big plays when the Blue Devils have needed them.

Boone's performance last week against Wake Forest showed why many were looking forward to him being in the fold as the main "passing" quarterback. He completed 24 of 29 passes and threw for three touchdowns. His accuracy and ability to get the ball in the end zone through the air will bode well for Duke in the future as well. Combine that with Connette's ability to improvise and make things happen on the ground, and Duke has a dangerous mix that has helped them reach the nine-win mark. 

It also doesn't hurt to have Jamison Crowder putting up big numbers again this season. Crowder has caught 83 passes for 1,077 yards and five touchdowns. 

Solid Up Front 

The Blue Devils don't feature a back with gaudy numbers, but they have been able to make the most of their rushing attempts. As of Friday, the Blue Devils allowed the eighth-fewest tackles for loss in the nation. Head coach David Cutcliffe praised his offensive line during this week's ACC coaches teleconference. In particular, he pointed to Perry Simmons and Lincoln Tomlinson for their exceptional durability on the line. 

"He's the most durable, consistent (lineman) we've every had," Cutcliffe said of Simmons. He went on to boast of Tomlinson's quickness as well. 

It hasn't only been the offense that has the team on the verge of a new record for wins in a season. 

Cashing In

Ross Cockrell was a well-known defensive back coming into the season, and he hasn't disappointed. He has made his share of big plays. However, Jeremy Cash may be the most pleasant surprise for Duke's stout defense. 

The sophomore safety leads the team in interceptions with four. He also is second on the team in tackles with 96. He has four double-digit tackle games this year, including the crucial win over Miami. 

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