DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Blue Devils host the Elon Phoenix in the two teams’ football season-opener at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday.
The matchup will mark the eighth on the gridiron between Duke and Elon, with the Blue Devils holding a 6-0-1 all-time series lead dating back to when the teams first met in 1920.
The most recent meeting — the first between the two schools since 1926 — took place in 2010 and resulted in a 41- 27 victory for Duke in Durham.
Coming off a school-record 10-win season, that ended with a conference division title, appearance in the ACC Championship game, and a second consecutive postseason bowl appearance, Duke seeks to follow-up on its 10-4 (6-2 ACC) season with a strong start against an Elon squad that finished at 2-10 (1-7) in 2013.
Honoring past success
Following the first quarter of play, Duke will honor members of the 1989 football team to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its ACC Championship.
The squad will be honored on the field led by then ACC Player of the Year Clarkston Hines and ACC Coach of the Year Steve Spurrier, currently the head coach at the University of South Carolina.
The 1989 edition of the Blue Devils compiled a 6-1 league record to tie for the top spot in the standings with Virginia and finished with an 8-4 overall ledger.
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe’s comments during his weekly ACC teleconference included talking about the team’s secondary, special teams units, and redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Boone.
On a young group in the Duke secondary:
“I think it’s very similar [from last season’s secondary group]. You’re going to see Alonzo [Saxton II] and Jack [Muñiz] playing at corner. They had a great camp. Bryon [Fields] and Breon [Borders] benefitted so much from last year. You don’t look at them as sophomores. They have a lot of snaps under their belt. I think our safety position gives us some real rotation opportunities. I like what we’re doing back there. Matt Guerrieri coaches our safeties and does a tremendous job being able to teach systematically where guys can play different positions.”
On the Duke special teams units:
“I think this could be the best special teams unit I’ve had, anywhere I’ve been. Starting with the return men, both of those are guys that can take it all the way, every time they touch it. Next one I’m going to go to is Thomas Hennessy, who’s had a great spring as a long snapper. He is spot on. Will [Monday] and Ross [Martin] also had really good camps. From a standpoint of consistency, we’re far better than we were a year ago at this time. We also have guys that can block and cover. I’m anxious to see us cover kicks, too. I’m anxious to see this team’s athleticism show up in those areas.”
On Boone as a fifth-year senior:
“When you get into our system, you’re going to learn football inside and out. You’re going to learn command. You’ve got the reigns. You see the product of that as it goes on into the NFL. Right now, Anthony could call a game. I think Anthony could tell what every person is doing on offense, every play. He understands every one of our pass protections. The consistency should come with that knowledge. Don’t think we don’t continue to work on fundamentals. It’s why you see Peyton [Manning] and Eli [Manning] come back here. They like to go back into that role for some fundamental work. As a fifth-year senior, I expect Boone to be the best he’s been in ball handling, the best he’s been from an accuracy standpoint, the best he’s been with his footwork and the best he’s been running the football.”
Duke Injury Report (As of Aug. 28)
TE Dan Beilinson (upper body)
CB Johnathan Lloyd (lower body)
OL Trip McNeill (lower body)
OL Jake Sanders (upper body)
Out for Season
LB Kelby Brown (leg)
TE Braxton Deaver (leg)
DE Taariq Shabazz (leg)