As 2022 draws to a close, The Chronicle’s sports department looks back at the biggest news in Duke Athletics of the year. A daily review of the major games, events, or stories that helped shape the course of his year with the Blue Devils.
2nd Place: Under new head coach Mike Elko, Duke Football responded to last year’s dominant 3-9 season with a dominant 9-4 record and bowl game win. For the full list, Here.
Amidst the noisy Cameron Indoor Stadium full of students watching Wendell Moore Jr., Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams light up for the Duke Men’s Basketball on Feb. 15, the new Duke Football head coach Mike Elko turned the Cameron Crazy crowd into a frenzy. “It’s time for Duke football,” he said.
What the Capacity audience didn’t realize was that Elko was the real deal.
In 2022, Duke exceeded all expectations, finishing the year with a 9-4 record, five wins in the ACC, and a Military Bowl victory over a talented UCF team. Former Texas A&M defensive his coordinator has changed Durham’s culture on and off the field, creating Blue his Devils-inspired group looking to avenge last year’s disappointment.
Earlier in the year, the Blue Devils battled for a 3-0 record with wins at home against Temple and North Carolina A&T, along with impressive road wins at Big Ten foe Northwestern University. . Following a setback in then-undefeated Kansas, Duke responded with their first ACC win since the 2020 season, outscoring Virginia and moving to 4-1.
Sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard was making waves across the college football world. Duke’s defense allowed him only 19 points per game over the five-game stretch.
But the good times didn’t last forever.
In October, Elko faced the first real test of his career as a head coach. A heartbreaking loss to Georgia Tech, where he went 2-3 in overtime, where he lost 23-20, and North Carolina, where he lost 38-35, dropped Duke to his 4-3 that year. . But the Blue Devils were unfazed.
After beating Boston College 38-31 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Duke responded to a losing streak with three straight wins to earn bowl qualification. He was a 9-point favorite in Gables, Florida, where he took charge 45-21.
Perhaps one of the most interesting stories of the year was sophomore Jordan Moore’s rise from quarterback to wide receiver. After losing to Leonard in the Battle of Fall Camp, Elko chose Moore for his new role as receiver.
As the Blue Devils fell to Pittsburgh 28-26 after a failed two-point conversion attempt in the final minute, Moore had 1 for 199 receiving yards and 14 receptions after surged to a 7-3 record. scored five touchdowns.
Moore’s transition to receivers isn’t to Elko’s credit, but the creativity of adding athleticism to the receiver group was a breath of fresh air. After all, Moore could have sat unused as a backup quarterback watching Leonard and the offense every Saturday.
After a disappointment in Pittsburgh, the Dukes closed out the regular season with a 34-31 victory over the Wake Forest, a team with high hopes for 2022. off season.
After finishing last in the preseason ACC Coastal Division, Duke qualified for their first bowl game since 2018. Ultimately, a nine-win season isn’t a pushover. Over the past three seasons, Blue has won a total of 10 games for his Devils. However, his four losses to Duke put him on 16 points combined, and he lost one possession on various occasions from his Championship and ACC Championship game appearances in the division.
Elko gets a lot of credit, but let’s not forget those players who shrugged off a three-win season and had the mental toughness to win a bowl game. Leonard, from Fairhope, Alabama, tops that list as he has 13 rushing touchdowns and 20 passing touchdowns, placing him in the upper tier of ACC quarterbacks returning to school next fall. .
With the push coming, both Elko and Leonard will face the challenge of maintaining this momentum and exceeding higher expectations next year.As Leonard said after Wednesday’s Military Bowl victory, As preparations for next year begin, bigger things like the national championships are on his mind.
Read more about Duke Football’s turnaround season:
Military Mayhem: Leonard Leads the Way as Duke Football Flees UCF and Wins the Military Bowl
‘You Didn’t See It’: Duke Football Stayed On Course, Ultimately Military Bowl Champions
‘Good Start’: Duke Football Takes Special Victory On Opening Night
‘It’s About Us’: Duke Football’s Unexpected Turn Hits New Milestone With ‘Monumental’ Victory At Boston College
“Football’s New Wave”: How Duke Football’s Gameday Culture Revived in Elko’s First Season
Duke Football Head Coach Mike Elko Named ACC Coach of the Year
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