Duke Football Regressing? A 1-3 Start Has Blue Devils Searching For Answers

Mike KlineAnalyst ISeptember 25, 2010

David Cutcliffe has got to find a way to help Duke get its confidence and find its winning way back..
David Cutcliffe has got to find a way to help Duke get its confidence and find its winning way back..Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

If last week's 62-13 debacle against Alabama was suppose to show Duke how far they still have to go in football, Saturday's embarrassing 35-21 loss to Army is giving Blue Devil fans flashback to how bad they've been.

A game in which Duke supposedly had a good chance of winning instead turned into a Homecoming nightmare.

What had started out as a year full of promise and potential is quickly turning into another disappointment for Duke and its fans as the team fell to 1-3 on the season.

The Blue Devils started out strong, averaging 40 points per game in their first two games. However the defense showed every bit of its youth and inexperience, allowing nearly as many points per game.

After allowing 62 points last week and 35 against an option team this week, things aren't looking good in Durham.

To make matters worse, the offense that was clicking has become stagnant and is having trouble holding on to the ball.

Head coach David Cutcliffe has more questions than answers at this point. Quarterback Sean Renfree, who looked solid in the first two games, has thrown seven interceptions in the last three games. His receivers have also had difficulty catching or hanging on to the ball.

Duke is not a team that can be successful when it makes mistakes—and that is exactly what is happening.

Against Army, Duke turned the ball over five times, leading to four scores. That type of sloppy play is going to continue to cost Duke unless Cutcliffe can figure out how to help his team hold on to the ball.

In Cutcliffe's third year as Duke coach he is facing an uphill battle and the Blue Devils are just a quarter into the schedule.

The chances of Duke making a bowl at this point are bleak, as Army represented a game that Duke should have and most certainly needed to win.

If he and the team don't figure something out soon, it is difficult to see the Blue Devils winning one more game, much less five. That in and of itself is unfortunate as the Blue Devils have made significant strides since Cutcliffe took over. Attendance at home games is up, recruiting is better, and facility improvements are in the works.

In the short term, poor play is likely to result in a drop in attendance as many fringe Duke Football fans are already beginning to utter the familiar refrain of "When does basketball season start?"

The long-term effect could be recruits losing interest. Duke has gotten verbal commitments from 24 prospects for the 2011 class. Despite the clear signs of improvements, opposing coaches would use a drop-off in the number of wins from this season as ammunition in recruiting wars.

Their schedule doesn't get any easier as they play Maryland next in College Park. The Terps will surely be looking to get pay back from last year's 17-13 defeat. After a bye week, things get dicey as Duke takes on Miami and Virginia Tech. Right now it is hard to see Duke winning any of those games.

Heading into the year Duke needed to come out of Week 4 with at worst a 2-2 record. At 1-3 and with their current form, the Blue Devils find themselves in a familiar position—last place.