Duke deserves some love

Published 9:45 am Thursday, November 5, 2009

Anyone that knows me, has read my column or ever met me knows that I bleed Carolina blue.

I truly am a Tar Heel born and a Tar Heel bred and when I die I’ll be a Tar Heel dead. It is because of this that what you are about to read may surprise you. The most underrated team in all of college football resides in Durham.

I don’t like Duke, never have and never will. Despite my obvious bias regarding all things Carolina (hating dook is and NC farmers college is almost as much a part of being a Carolina fan as cheering on the Heels), I am also a sports columnist and true fan of the fame of football.

What Head Coach David Cutcliffe and ACC Player of the Year candidate Thaddeus Lewis have accomplished in Durham is nothing short of tremendous. The Blue Devils are 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the ACC. Not bad for a team that went 1-23 during Lewis’ first two years.

With the strong arm of Lewis, a talented group of young receivers and a much improved offensive line, the Blue Devils currently rank first in the ACC and fifth nationally in passing offense. Lewis has thrown for over 2,300 yards and 15 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He has done all this without one star wideout – instead spreading the ball out to over a dozen receivers.

These stats are impressive for any offense, but even more so in regards to Duke given the fact that they have until this point been the laughing stock of the conference.

During Lewis’ first two years in Durham the Blue Devils compiled a 1-23 record including one winless season. Lewis showed potential even then, but there was little reason for optimism until Coach Cutcliffe arrived on campus.

The quarterback guru that had coached both Peyton and Eli Manning brought a reputation for winning and a promise that Duke football would no longer be an oxymoron. With his credibility, Cutcliffe brought with him hope for a fan base that had long since given it up their dream of success on the gridiron.

For a Carolina fan this year, Duke football is nothing short of painful to watch. As a fan of the game, it has been a thing of beauty. Lewis’ ability to air the ball out, take advantage of defensive mistakes and break down zone coverage is less like watching a football game and more like watching a how to guide to being a great quarterback. If he were on any other team in the country, we would be calling it Heisman for Dummies.

Instead he plays for Duke which means that despite all that he and Coach Cutcliffe have accomplished, they are still not receiving the national attention that they deserve. While this may not be a national publication I for one thought it was time that someone stepped up and gave them the credit they are due.

On a side note, the Blue Devils will travel the eight miles to Chapel Hill this Saturday to take on my beloved Tar Heels. I of course will be there cheering on my Tar Heels and trying to psyche out the kickers like I did two years ago (I have good seats behind the dookie bench and take credit for win).

While I am more nervous than I have been in decades regarding our chances of winning, I am excited about the fact that for the first time in a very long time this game means something more that just bragging rights. The loser may not get to a bowl game.

Either way, I expect the rivalry between Carolina and Duke is about to get turned up a few notches if that’s possible.

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at dave@gate811.net.