Q&A with Mike Kline of Duke Sports Blog

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Miami heads up to Durham to take on the Blue Devils in the season finale. We caught up with Mike Kline of Duke Sports Blog for a little insight on the Dookies.

Be sure to head over to their page, to see our answers to their questions as well. (which will publish tomorrow)

Here is our full Q&A:

SOTU: Everyone knows that Duke is considered more of a basketball school, how has the success of the football team this year been received?

DSB: It has been very well received. There is still a level of cautious optimism though among the fan base. Some are still hesitant to go all in since it has been a long time since Duke has had a respectable and consistently competitive program. We've all been waiting to see if Cutcliffe's leadership would start producing wins and at least for this year it has. The fan base is amped and excited though the recent three-game losing streak has taken some wind from the sails, still everyone is very happy to see Duke in a bowl, any bowl after 18 years without going to one. The hope is that next year will bring even more success.


SOTU: Can you tell us what the biggest keys to Duke becoming bowl eligible have been?

DSB: Execution in all three phase. Duke has struggled to put complete games together. They are finally starting to do that and you can see it in the win loss column. They have experience and leadership. The senior captains on both side of the ball are also some of the top play makers. Quarterback Sean Renfree and wide receiver Conner Vernon have been the heart of the offense. Defensively, Ross Cockrell is one of the best corners in the league and Walt Canty is a beast defensively, so having that talent and experience is key. Duke has also started to catch up athletically with the rest of the league. They aren't there yet but guys like Jamison Crowder and Jela Duncan are examples of young guys that are difference makers with their play-making ability. Duke is only going to get better once they are able to get guys in and redshirt them.


SOTU: If you had to name the top 3 players in program history, who would they be?

DSB: Great question and there are a lot of options. Ben Bennett, Clarkston Hines, Conner Vernon come to my mind from my lifetime. but there are just so many out there and because of Duke's struggles they are often forgotten about.


SOTU: For the Miami fans who are headed to Raleigh, what can they expect? Where are the best places to hang out/tailgate?

DSB: Depends on what your likes are. There are several BBQ places in Durham and in Raleigh and depending on your style you can either go fancy or casual. Lots of good bars and eateries in Durham, especially the old Tobacco district downtown near the Durham Athletic Park. Really hard to name anyone specifically. Tobacco Road Sports Cafe is pretty popular. The Federal, Tyler's Tap Room are all pretty cool places as well, but the list is really endless.


SOTU: Duke and Maryland had a strong rivalry (not as strong as UNC per se), especially in basketball. How do you feel about the Terps leaving for the Big Ten?

DSB: I'm not at all sad to see the Terps go but it isn't necessarily good for the ACC to see one of your charter members leave. Duke fans joke that Maryland isn't our rivals and now we can joke that they aren't our conference either. Best of luck to them getting beaten up in the Big 10.


SOTU: Which players/match-ups on Miami concern you?

DSB: Miami just has so many athletes and Duke has struggled with athletic teams. Obviously for Duke who got destroyed by the Georgia Tech running game, your first thought is how do you stop Duke Johnston and Mike James. Those two guys could have big games against a Duke defense that has struggled to stop the run consistently this year. And if Miami can run the ball effectively expect Stephen Morris to have an equally strong game.


SOTU: How do you see this game playing out? Prediction and Final Score?

DSB: If you would have asked me this four weeks ago I would have given the edge to Duke given how they were playing. But after going through the FSU, Clemson, Georgia Tech gauntlet I'm not very optimistic that the Blue Devils can pull off the win. I don't have a score in mind and maybe later in the week one will come to me. I see this game as a potentially close one but I could easily justify a Miami blow out, it just depends on Duke's mindset. They've played well at home but I think Miami just has too many weapons and think they will get the win.

Thanks again to Mike for working with us.
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