It's only about a third of the way through the season, but if you stopped and took a vote now, David Cutcliffe would be a leading candidate for the ACC coach of the year.Â It's not that Duke is 2-1; that's nice, but it's pretty meaningless. But this isn't meaningless:Â Cutcliffe has turned Duke from a joke into a real football team, one that plays hard and which plays to the maximum of their ability.
Duke has, rather quickly, gone from being a joke to a team that is demanding - and getting - respect.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo gets it.
"You've got to give them credit: They responded. I think that's a credit to Coach Cutcliffe. Those guys obviously have bought into what he's preaching."
The fitness regime Duke has undergone has helped immensely.Â Last season, Navy was down in the fourth, 43-32, only to see Navy roar back and win on a last-second field goal.
It happened a lot over the last couple of years, actually.
That and mistakes - they killed Duke.
It's still early, as we said.Â Duke still has to play eight conference games and Vandy.Â But just a casual gander suggests at least three or four games that Duke could win. For Duke, that would be an amazing improvement.
- Riley, Lewis finally give Duke air supremacy over Navy
- This time, Surgan delivers big kick for Blue Devils
- Navy drops second straight game as Duke wins, 41-31
- Duke learning how to win
- Taken Down by Duke, 41-31
- Devil of a task at Duke
- Blue Devils put away Midshipmen
- Surgan, Blue Devils both part of a brand-new start