DURHAM, N.C. — Duke insists it won’t get caught looking past Tulane.
There won’t be any peeking ahead to next week’s game at Miami, because coach David Cutcliffe says his Blue Devils have improved but aren’t yet good enough to overlook anyone.
Duke (3-0) expects to have its full focus on the Green Wave (1-2) on Saturday in its final nonconference game before taking on the Hurricanes in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
“Our players deserve some kudos for the hard work they’re put in,” Cutcliffe said. “They’ve gotten themselves reputationally better, but all of that is so short-lived in our world. ... We’re a product of how well we’re going to work (and) ... if we get beyond that, we’ll be in trouble.”
The Blue Devils have barely been tested so far, winning each of their first three games by an average of 42-11. They’re outscoring their opponents 55-10 in the second halves of games, and they’re one of only a handful of teams in the nation that has not turned the ball over.
They’re getting a visit from a Tulane team that has intercepted a pass in every game this season and ranks sixth nationally with five picks.
The Green Wave defense is led by Nico Marley — the son of former Miami linebacker Rohan Marley and the grandson of reggae singer Bob Marley.
“He’s very small (5-foot-9), but he can really run,” Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said. “He brings the most leadership on that defense. He brings the right attitude every day.
“He comes to work every day and he is fearless. He looks like he’s up against a 7-footer, and he knocks them back every time.”
Some things to know about Duke’s nonconference finale against Tulane:
STRONG SHAUN: What will freshman Shaun Wilson do for an encore — and just how much will he play? Duke’s third-string running back burst onto the scene last week against Kansas, rushing for a school-record 245 yards with three touchdowns covering at least 45 yards apiece. Yet once again, he didn’t show up on the depth chart — where Shaquille Powell is listed as the starter with Josh Snead as the backup. “I honestly don’t know what the rotation will be like once we come into ACC play,” Powell said.
MORE ON MARLEY: The Tulane linebacker plays with a chip on his shoulder and high emotion — sometimes too much. Marley was flagged late in last week’s win over Southeastern Louisiana for making a tackle and then posing like Superman, Johnson said. “I told him to do Mighty Man or something, not Superman,” the coach said. “That stuff is not good for you.”
STOPPING THE RUN: The Green Wave’s rank of 94th nationally against the run might be a little misleading because one of its first three opponents was option-oriented Georgia Tech, which rushed 57 times for 344 yards while only completing three passes. Tulane allowed an average of 106 yards rushing to its other two opponents, Tulsa and Southeastern Louisiana.
YOUNG DBS: Duke’s young secondary — which features four sophomores along with junior Jeremy Cash — could get a test from a Tulane team that loves to throw the ball. The Green Wave has thrown at least two touchdown passes in each game and throw the ball about twice as often as they run it.
THROWBACK DAY: Duke is turning the clock back 25 years and will wear the uniforms of its last ACC championship team, the Steve Spurrier-led group in 1989.