Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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40 PRESEASON 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL D avid Cutcliffe and offensive aptitude are historically syn- onymous. The 13th-year Duke head coach has tutored eight quarterbacks who played in the NFL, most notably both Peyton and Eli Manning. He is less than two years removed from coaching a top-10 draft pick, current New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who arrived at Duke as an un- ranked recruit. He was the architect of a national title-winning offense at Tennessee, where he coached for nearly 20 years, including nine as a coordinator or play caller. His résumé makes Duke's 2019 of- fensive tumble entirely out of charac- ter and puzzling. Cutcliffe is oversee- ing the repair job himself. He took over as the play caller, a role he has not held since his last game at Ten- nessee in 2007. "I think I'm going to enjoy this," Cutcliffe told reporters. "I better get my sleep because this is going to be stressful and challenging physically." One of his first moves was to bring in a new quarterback. Clemson graduate transfer and redshirt junior Chase Brice spent the last two years as Trevor Lawrence's backup, and the former four-star recruit came to Duke for a shot at starting. But the job is not being handed to him. Brice wasn't around for the team's three spring practices. Last year's backup, redshirt sophomore Chris Katrenick, took the first-team snaps at the start of camp. "He's got great arm talent," Cut- cliffe said of Brice. "He's a natural thrower. His accuracy level is really high. … Understand he's still obvi- ously learning a system. It's tough as a quarterback. He did get the benefit of some Zoom meetings, but it's not what the other guys got all through spring, because he was still in the process of trying to graduate. "So he's catching up. What I would tell you is he gets more comfortable with what we're doing." Comfort can't come soon enough. Duke quarterbacks threw for 179.3 yards per game in 2019, which ranked 110th nationally. The Blue Devils also were 115th in pass effi- ciency, 123rd in yards per pass and 95th in completion percentage. Pass- ing was a misadventure. Brice can take them nowhere but up. He threw for 1,023 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions at Clemson while averaging 6.2 yards on 30 carries. He rescued the Tigers from a home loss to Syracuse in 2018 after Lawrence left the game due to injury. Brice will need some help, though. Nothing about Duke's offense was particularly impressive. It averaged 3.64 yards per carry (second-worst in the ACC) and 10.1 yards per comple- tion (an ACC low). "They're embarrassed by how they played last year," said Devil- publisher Brian McLawhorn. "They just couldn't run the football at all." Senior Deon Jackson is likely to be the primary running back once again, and his track record suggests his 3.7 yards per rush in 2019 were not in- dicative of his ability. He ran for 847 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He also has 51 career catches for 449 yards. Sophomore Jalon Calhoun and All- ACC senior tight end Noah Gray were Duke's top two receivers last year, and both returned. Neither, though, averaged more than 9.5 yards per catch. The low yardage totals were a product of their usage. Of Calhoun's 62 targets, 27 were behind the line of scrimmage and 18 more were within five yards of the line. Gray had only 16 of his 69 targets on passes at least 20 yards down the field. "He can be that security blanket, be- cause the wide receiver corps is pretty young," McLawhorn said of Gray. With Brice, there's hope the offense can turn into more of a vertical threat. But that idea will be squashed if he's under duress like Duke's quarter- backs were a year ago. Four offen- sive line starters returned, though they need to reach another level for the Blue Devils' offense to make real GAME PREVIEW: DUKE Duke redshirt junior defensive end Chris Rumph II had the highest pass rush win rate (30.8 percent) in the Football Bowl Subdivision, per Pro Football Focus. PHOTO COURTESY DUKE ATHLETICS Facts & Figures DUKE AT NOTRE DAME Game Info Date: Sept. 12, 2020 Site: Notre Dame Stadium Kickoff: TBD Television: NBC Radio: This game can be heard on Notre Dame's IMG affiliates. Series Facts: This is the seventh meeting between the two schools. Notre Dame leads the series 4-2 and won the last matchup 38-7 at Duke on Nov. 9, 2019. Head coaches: Duke — David Cutcliffe (72-79, 13th season); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (92-37, 11th season). Noting Duke: The 2019 season was only the second since 2012 that Duke failed to go to a bowl game … Cutcliffe has led Duke to six bowls in his tenure, three more than the program's total from 1960 through his hiring … The Blue Devils have not finished above .500 in the ACC since 2014 … Duke has 14 returning starters, seven on each side of the ball … Clemson grad- uate transfer Chase Brice, a former top-200 recruit, is the expected starter at quarterback, an unproductive position for the Blue Devils in 2019 … In its first year without top-10 pick Daniel Jones, Duke was ranked 63rd out of 65 Power Five teams in yards per pass attempt and 110th nationally in pass yards per game … Duke last won the ACC Coastal Division in 2013, starting a run of seven different division winners in seven seasons (the ACC is not using divisions in 2020). SenSe Of Urgency The Blue Devils made several offensive changes after plodding to a 5-7 record, hoping to ease the pressure on a rising defense

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