College Football: Duke-James Madison preview
DURHAM ó Duke hired David Cutcliffe to eventually beat the big-named teams on the schedule. It wouldn’t hurt to defeat one of the smaller ones, too.
The Blue Devils begin the Cutcliffe era Saturday night when they play host to James Madison of the championship subdivision. It’s their first game against a team from what once was known as Division I-AA since the 2006 opener ó an embarrassing 13-0 loss to Richmond.
“We just came in and, I guess, had the thought of, ‘Oh, we’re supposed to be better than them.’ They came in to play more than us, and they beat us,” receiver Eron Riley said. “Winning the first game would be very important because of all the positive things going on around campus. … If we go out there and put on a good show for the fans, they won’t be going home like, ‘same old Duke.”‘
The Blue Devils lured Cutcliffe from Tennessee’s staff in December to show they’re finally serious about football, after years of their questionable commitment to the sport. Duke has yielded three straight 10-loss seasons and no bowl berths since 1994, along with a lack of genuine enthusiasm about the program since Steve Spurrier roamed the Wallace Wade Stadium sideline two decades ago.
The new coach with the Southeastern Conference pedigree has a knack for developing quarterbacks, and he reinvigorated the program with a newfound passion ó he was often criticized at Mississippi for being dour ó and a new offensive system that places added value on strong decision-making by his passers.
“I won’t say I have it all down, but I know a pretty good deal of it,” quarterback Thaddeus Lewis said.