Duke Now

So far, so good, but challenges ahead for Duke

Laura Keeley and Luke DeCock on Duke's win in the new Wallace Wade Stadium

News & Observer sports writers Laura Keeley and Luke DeCock analyze the Blue Devils' big win over NC Central in the newly renovated Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC.
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News & Observer sports writers Laura Keeley and Luke DeCock analyze the Blue Devils' big win over NC Central in the newly renovated Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC.

So after two games — a 37-7 win at Tulane and a 55-0 thumping of FCS N.C. Central, what do we really know about Duke?

To his credit, coach David Cutcliffe answered the question with a reality check.

"We’ve matched up well with the two opponents we’ve played, that’s part of it," he said. "That’s a fact of the matter."

And about the defense, which has limited its two overmatched opponents to an average of 1.6 rushing yards per play and 3.8 yards per play overall?

"We have a very experienced secondary overall, four of the five," Cutcliffe said. "We’re very athletic up front, more athletic than we’ve been at linebacker and in the combination of our front. Our interior people are different than we’ve been. But all of that remains to be seen. We’re getting ready to play a Big Ten team (No. 23 Northwestern). And then we’re getting ready to play a really good ACC team (No. 14 Georgia Tech). And then we’re going to be another really good ACC team (Boston College).

“So, as we move forward, we believe those ingredients exist. But we’ve just got to play one game at a time and see if we can continue to elevate. But after two games, how much better do we need to get? A bunch, always. So the theme is going to be just continuing to improve."

And that theme extends to quarterback Thomas Sirk. Duke’s new starter this year has completed 67.7 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

"It’s no different whether you’re a quarterback, punter or placekicker. What becoming great means is that you become amazingly consistent,” Cutcliffe said. “When you talk about elevating your game and seeing somebody’s best, that’s a continuation. As I look at greatness, whether it’s in the National Football League or someone that is a senior in college, it’s because they are so amazingly consistent. He’s off to a good start at being consistent."

The Blue Devils will get their real first test of the season Saturday against Northwestern. The progress looked good over the course of the past two weeks, but the Wildcats will prove a chance to see how the Blue Devils stand up against a true quality opponent.

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