If you consult Saturday’s 46-26 drubbing of Florida International, then, yes. Worried about a quick and aggressive defense on the FIU side, pundits seemed to believe Duke was bound to struggle. Instead, a huge second quarter virtually put the game away before halftime, and the Blue Devils coasted to a big victory in their opener. So while they’re not out of the woods yet, one of the team’s more impressive showings in a decade all traces back to their coach’s emphasis on culture change:
“Guys that have invested a lot in our program,” Cutcliffe told the Durham Herald-Sun afterward. “From the beginning of their careers, they have truly bought into our way of doing things. The demands that we have. The discipline on and off the field. They’ve done a great job of indoctrinating those aspects into our team.”
But now, if they’ve truly turned it around, they’ll need to refocus quickly on their next opponent. The Stanford Cardinal, who went 11-2 last season, will be awaiting Duke over in Palo Alto, Calif. However, they’re not the same team that beat the Blue Devils 44-14 last season, either. With first-overall pick Andrew Luck gone, the Cardinal figured they’d have to regroup a bit. After last week’s meek 20-17 effort over San Jose State, suddenly there’s some cause for alarm. Could Duke score a huge non-conference victory over a top-25 team this weekend?