"I want to see if this team can reach its potential," coach David Cutcliffe said. "When teams learn how to win, you should get hungrier."
The Blue Devils have won their past two games going into Saturday's contest at Florida International. A victory would give Duke a three-game winning streak for only the second time since 1994. The most-recent three-game win streak came in October 2009.
"Regardless of what happens the week before, we are going to go out there and do what we do and just work hard to prepare for that week," defensive tackle Charlie Hatcher said.
A little success is no reason for complacency.
"There are so many other things we left out there that we can do better," Cutcliffe said.
Duke has benefited from past shortcomings. But that's no way to go about things in the long term.
"We have learned from adversity," Cutcliffe said. "Unfortunately, too much of it here."
--The Blue Devils dealt with humid, sticky conditions in defeating visiting Tulane. Coach David Cutcliffe, perhaps considering the team's visit to south Florida for a game against Florida International next on the schedule, seemed to endorse the conditions.
"The hotter, the more humid, the nastier, the tougher, the better you're going to play," he said. "We've got to get that through their minds."
--The Blue Devils are 1-0 this season when playing on field turf and they'll be on that surface this week for the game at Florida International. The Blue Devils practice exclusively on field turf and for a team that's geared for speed it could be an advantage depending on the opponent. "We're kind of built for it," coach David Cutcliffe said.
This will be the first meeting between Duke and Florida International.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE:
The running game showed life last week against Tulane even though a couple of expected contributors (RB Desmond Scott and RB Josh Snead) remain out of the lineup. QB Sean Renfree has been efficient at times and yet the offensive line could stand to provide him more time to find receivers. The team's 48-point outburst was a good sign.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE:
The defense is a unit with some injury issues, and with DE Kenny Anunike out with an apparent serious knee injury, it could worsen. The Blue Devils aren't experienced along the line and soon they might find out how their depth stacks up in that area. But they have turned to several younger players to fill in, so they might be creating some depth on the unit whether they like it or not. LB Kelby Brown has been a steady player on defense even though his tackling numbers haven't been eye-popping as they were at times last year as a freshman.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"I was pleased with us playing more physical." -- coach David Cutcliffe, who has been concerned that what appears to be an advantage in some games might create a tendency for the Blue Devils to back off in the more physical aspects of the game.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Duke at Florida International, Oct. 1 -- This marks the second game in a three-week period against a team that still holds an undefeated record. This will be the first of two games for Duke in Miami. The team's next road game comes Nov. 5 at Miami.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Blue Devils have to keep their momentum going and if their offense can put Florida International off balance that would be a good sign. Look for the Blue Devils to try to provide better protection for QB Sean Renfree. The Blue Devils have used their speed as an advantage in their past couple of games, but that might not be an edge for Duke in this matchup.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
-- RB Juwan Thompson -- He has become the featured back in the offensive backfield and he's evolving into a well-rounded player. He has contributed as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. It has been a process for a player who arrived from a wishbone offense in high school to playing in a one-back setup with the Blue Devils.
-- DE Jamal Wallace -- He's most likely to be the player picking up the most playing time if DE Kenny Anunike is out for an extended period, if not the rest of the season, with a knee injury.
-- CB Zach Greene -- He did an admirable job filling in as a starter for CB Ross Cockrill in the Tulane game. The defensive backfield has come under scrutiny in recent seasons so if relative newcomers such as Greene can step in, that should give the Blue Devils a big boost.
--DE Kenny Anunike has been lost for the season with a knee injury. Torn knee ligaments will require surgery for the redshirt junior.
--K Paul Asack has been handling kickoffs and he hasn't just settled for that. He was credited with taking part in three tackles in the game against Tulane.
--C Brian Moore will be re-assessed this week as the Blue Devils try to see if he might be nearing a return from an arm injury. Part of the evaluation will be considering the possibility of moving him back to a guard spot along the offensive line.