Posted by Chip Patterson
Since head coach David Cutcliffe's arrival in Durham, Duke has made a habit of trying to schedule some big-time non-conference opponents. Playing a top-notch opponent presents the Blue Devils a great chance to test themselves, and possibly pull off an upset that could boost the program's status (even if temporarily) on a national scale.
But last season, the Blue Devils seemed to take a step back after defending champion Alabama put a 62-13 hurting on them on their home turf.
"Physically, we probably got beat up a little bit," Duke quarterback Sean Renfree explained. "They are more physically dominating than any team we saw. To get beat like that, it's tough to come back from. It took us a while to get our confidence back."
The Blue Devils will take on a similar challenge this fall, hosting Stanford on the second weekend of the season. The Cardinal, led by returning quarterback Andrew Luck, will likely be ranked in the top five heading into the season. However, Renfree predicts that the team will have a better reaction to the high-caliber opponent.
"I think we're going to be more prepared," Renfree said. "I think everyone on the team including myself got a little caught up in the hype. At the end of the day we have to remember we are just playing another team. I'm not taking anything away from Stanford at all, they are a very good team, but you can't get caught up in the hype."
Renfree, a junior, took a while to get comfortable in the starting quarterback role but seemed to hit a stride by the end of the season. A pro-style passer with a big arm, also said that he thought Andrew Luck's return was "good for the game of college football."
RELATED: At the same table, Duke safety Matt Daniel caught my ear referencing himself in third person. What really caught my ear? "Matt Daniels loves the rain," the senior safety told a group of reporters. I was intrigued, and made a note. Thankfully Jim Young of the ACC Sports Journal caught the entire explanation. Why does he love the rain? "Because it soothes me."
Of course it does.