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Duke Football Media Day was this past Saturday

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold
The Truth Network Radio
August 22, 2023 3:33 pm

Duke Football Media Day was this past Saturday

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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August 22, 2023 3:33 pm

Louis Fernandez, WRAL Sports +, was there for Duke’s media day; so what was mentioned?

Duke’s schedule is a monster, so how are they going about tackling this season? Why can’t Duke be talked about in the same way as a Clemson, especially after last year? Is Duke’s talent level the same? What are the two things that really differentiate teams from being alright to really good?

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Joining me to my left from WRAL Television in Raleigh, North Carolina is Louis Fernandez to help us chat about Duke a bit. And you were out at Media Days this last couple of days at Duke where Mike Elko and his squad seem to be playing with a chip on their shoulder. I'm not crazy about teams that need chips, but apparently they've got one.

I mean, I think having a chip on your shoulder is a prerequisite to play athletics at this point. OK. I'll buy it.

I'll buy it. No, yeah. It was on Saturday, Duke Heather Media Day, that we spoke with Mike Elko and then the offensive and defensive coordinators and then four players from Duke's football team. And it's interesting because there's a lot of confidence, I think, in that room in the direction of where Duke football is going. And I think, deservedly so, they deserve that confidence, getting nine wins for I think it was just the second or third time ever since like 1940 for Duke football.

It's impressive. They've earned some of their confidence, but now can they do it again? Yeah, you have coach of the year.

So, I mean, the expectations are lofty already being put in place. Today, Sporting News announced that Graham Barton, offensive lineman for Duke, named to the preseason All-America second team, which is a thing when you're named to a second team All-American. The thing is, being a thing, it's the offensive lineman.

So, he's protecting Riley Leonard. The expectations for Leonard are above average from last season. And even he feels like, I'm year two in this setup. Like, I'm ready to go and I think we can do even bigger things. Is that too much of an expectation even for him?

No, I don't think so. I think Duke football has, offensively, there's a lot of potential. They have both Jalen Calhoun and Jordan Moore returning a receiver who are two of the better receivers in the ACC. What's so fascinating to me is, for those of you who aren't super familiar with Duke football's story, Jordan Moore, at this time last year, just found out he was not going to be the starting quarterback for the Blue Devils. And so, he put up like 600 yards receiving in his offseason when he wasn't even preparing to be a wide receiver. And then he comes in, this offseason prepares, and listening to the offensive coordinator, Kevin Johns, for Duke, one of the things he said was, last year it felt like he was just running around people, Jordan Moore that is, and this year it feels like he's going in and out of breaks. He's learning the intricacies of receiver a little bit more. And while he's going to be, I think, really solid, Jalen Calhoun is like the number one guy over there. And Riley Leonard, he said on Saturday that he's added a lot more velocity to his throwing, been working on things more there. And he had over, I think, 20 passing touchdowns and over 10 rushing touchdowns last year.

He's definitely got some talent and potential. To me, and I think the thing you're going to hear all the time when you talk about Duke football, is the team could be better, but the record could be worse. Because that schedule, Mike Alko made someone very upset in the schedule in the office. It is hard.

It is difficult. Yeah, that is undeniable. Luis Fernandez joining us here from WRAL Television in Raleigh here on the Adam Gold show, and you mentioned that schedule. And you mentioned a little bit, we talked about the chip a little bit, it's Clemson right out of the gate. And then it's Lafayette, and Northwestern, the turmoil that the Wildcats are going through, and UConn, and then they finally get Notre Dame. There are a lot of analysts in college football, and most recently CBS Sports put out their projections for the ACC. Where Duke is no higher than fourth, but could also see them in the lower tier of this group to where they barely become bowl eligible with seven wins.

I see where the chip comes from, but then we just joked about it. That schedule is a monster. It is.

It is. Like, I mean, you just go down the list just like you did. I mean, I think there's a solid chance, a pretty good chance, honestly. They go into that September 30th Notre Dame game at three and one, because, you know, they play Clemson and then three other wah wah type schools. But that ACC schedule, right, it's versus Notre Dame, then off week, versus NC State, at Florida State, at Louisville, versus Wake Forest, at UNC. And then Virginia, who, you know, you don't really know what you're going to get with Virginia this year, and then they wrap up home against Pitt. So, like, there are no easy games, really, in that ACC schedule, especially. So, Duke... Touchdown, Carolina!

Underwhelming, I guess. Why can't, and someone out there is going to go, man, he must be smoking something he bought from the mountains when he was up there a couple weeks ago. Why can't Duke be talked about in the same vein as a Clemson, or even a North Carolina, based on who they have returning, and there's no reason why they can't, I mean, listen, sometimes the sun shines on a dog's butt.

So, anything can happen, right? Sure, no, no, I think the main thing that people are always going to look to when it comes to Duke is just the talent level, the three stars, the four stars, the five stars, all that kind of things. A lot of college coaches, they don't really prescribe to that, which I think is fair. When you talk to Duke players, Jacob Bunk, one of the returning offensive linemen for Duke, one thing he said was, in second year under Mike Elko, this team was so much stronger. He felt like the weight room program was really taking effect, because when you get into college football and you're dealing with some of these top tier teams, the two things I think truly separate them are the strength and size in the trenches, and the speed and ability on the outside.

And so I think that's really important. And Duke has a lot of talent on the outside with some of the receivers we were talking about. They got that quarterback in Riley Leonard, so it's just, can you start to compete with the big boys from that perspective? I think Duke is going to be playing a lot of tight games. It's going to come down to, can you maintain the turnover margin that they saw last year, which was second highest in the country? Can you capitalize on some red zone opportunities, which they were struggling a little bit to do last year? But Duke, I think, is going to be playing a lot of tight games, which is, which way does the pendulum swing? One extra year under the Elko system will help, certainly. Luis Fernandez joining us here from WRAL Television in Raleigh. We went through the schedule, we've looked at it.

I want to talk about Leonard. As the guy, we talked about, a lot of people talk about comparisons between the SEC and the Big Ten. The Pac-12 and ACC, while there's this back and forth about expansion and whatnot, set that stuff aside. And while those conferences are built around quarterbacks, the ACC even much more so. Is this why Leonard isn't considered among that top group of quarterbacks? Yeah, no, I think so.

I think that's what it is. And the way I've kind of been phrasing when I talk to people about Duke and Riley Leonard is he is your favorite college football analyst's favorite college football quarterback underdog. I probably phrased it very poorly, but if you ask people, especially in the ACC, like, oh man, who's someone you could see having a big year this year?

They're like, oh, Riley Leonard, got to watch out for him. So I think that kind of plays into it a lot because you do have so many Heisman contenders, essentially, who are high-end quarterbacks in college football that play in the ACC. So he can get overlooked a little bit, but his numbers are impressive. And if he continues to improve, he's going to be someone who is going to have a lot of attention on him. He said it himself, if he wants the respect, he's got to get some dubs. For those college football fans who are listening, not familiar with Duke, this is, as you talk about Leonard being the analyst's favorite quarterback of neighbors or whatever it is, Duke has that same kind of vibe.

You're expecting something in year two, but you're not quite sure because it's this big question mark because of that amazing success this team had in year one. Yeah, exactly. And the standard was set so high.

So the question is, does that standard continue? Mike Elko related it to, you know, he's very kind of like analytical and business-like. He related his program to a startup. And he said that progress, a lot of times with startups, you want it to be linear, but sometimes it's not.

Sometimes it goes up and sometimes it goes down. I think if Duke had a similar schedule to what they had last year, even a little bit harder, I think you'd see them run around their same kind of win total. But it's definitely a challenge. And we're going to find out who Duke is very early on the national stage against Clemson.

Well, get the dub. That's how you erase all the questions as a football team. You get the win in that week one, especially against a component like Clemson. And with the lack of divisions in the ACC this year where it's not Clemson versus the world or Florida State versus the world, I guess Florida State's the team this year that the opportunities will present themselves. But it's about winning. I hate the idea of close wins. They make no sense to me whatsoever. There's no such thing.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-25 17:20:34 / 2023-08-25 17:24:50 / 4

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