While the name seems to indicate that they don't care too much about anything but basketball, I assure you that JD King over at Duke Basketball Report does in fact cover their football team too. He was gracious enough to answer a few questions going into this week's game.
1. Duke had a really good (and somewhat surprising) season last year, winning their division and earning the right to lose to Florida State in the ACC championship game. Then they hung tough with Texas A&M in their bowl game. Did the success of last season significantly raise expectations going into this year?
I'd have to say yes. For the first time in decades, Duke has a football program rather than a football team. People are pretty thrilled about it.
2. Duke entered the year with severe questions on the offensive line, losing two excellent lineman in Perry Simmons and Dave Harding. Have the new faces stepped in and handled the load? And how has Takoby Cofield settled in at the left tackle position?
It's hard to say right now. The first two opponents were Elon and Troy, and neither is a very good measuring stick. We'll know more after Kansas.
3. The loss of Kelby Brown to a season-ending ACL tear looked pretty devastating, especially so close to the beginning of the season. How much of an impact has that had on the defense in the early games this year?
Again, it's hard to tell against mediocre opponents, but Duke's recruiting has improved to the point where the team can take a hit. So far, it hasn't hurt that much. Against Florida State and Clemson? We'll have to see.
4. In Duke's first two games this year, they come out extremely sluggish, turning on the offense in the 2nd quarter after letting two completely overmatched opponents hang around for a while. How important is it for Duke to come out strong in the first quarter, considering they are playing what is likely the best defense in their non-conference schedule this week?
Kansas is in a different category obviously and starting strong I'm sure is a goal. The pattern at Duke, going back to last year, is that they tend to wear other teams down as the game goes on. It's not like they've been pulling games out at the very end. Duke has become a second-half team.
5. As is customary, we'll end with your prediction for the game. Can Kansas go on the road and ride their defense to victory, or does Duke put on a show in front of the home fans?
Honestly, I'm not sure primarily because I don't know enough about Kansas. I do know that your program has struggled over the years, much like Duke until recently and that basketball schools have a tougher time with football, generally speaking. It'd be nice to see Duke and Kansas both get good.
Duke has some issues - Brandon Connette was a huge factor last year but he's transferred home as his mother is quite ill. Injuries are hurting and it's just September.
Duke football has direction now and toughness and a sense of purpose that it's lacked for most of my life. I think Duke will win, which is a big change from years past, but I would expect a tougher game than they've seen so far. And it's not as if they can't be beat.
Still, it's been a joy to watch something like this happen and to have a coach with real integrity. I hope it happens for you guys too. Basketball schools need to stick together!
At the very least, I expect KU to test Duke and to make the Blue Devils address weaknesses, including some they might not see yet. So let's say 34-25 Duke.
A special thanks to JD King for taking the time to give us a bit of insight on our opponent this week. If you want to check out their coverage of the game, or just chat with some of the fans over there (remember that most SBNation sites have the best of each particular fan base as readers), feel free to check out what I put together for them.