Head coach David Cutcliffe recently announced several upcoming changes to the coaching staff for Duke Football this season. Defensive coordinator Jim Collins will transition to the Director of Football Relations & Special Assistant to the Head Coach and Ben Albert will be hired as the Associate Defensive Coordinator and defensive line coach.
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Jim Collins has played a huge role in turning around the Blue Devils’ football program under Cutcliffe and vastly improving the defense. Duke’s defense was one of the best in the NCAA under Collins early last season, and he has helped produce several All-ACC performers on defense including Jeremy Cash, David Helton, Kelby Brown, Vincent Rey, and more. Collins has been part of Duke’s staff three different times, as a graduate assistant in 1983, an assistant under Steve Sloan and Steve Spurrier from 1985-89, and returning with Cutcliffe in 2008. He also followed Spurrier to Florida to help the Gators win 6 SEC titles and a national championship.
Collins’ new role will be as an administrator, and Cutcliffe believes that he will be able to help improve the football program overall saying: “Jim has an excellent understanding of our value system and we’re fortunate to have a national championship-level coach in this leadership position to help us reach our maximum potential. As an administrator, his wealth of knowledge and experiences will be instrumental in our program’s overall growth as we continue to compete for championships on the field while maintaining the highest academic and community levels of integrity.”
New defensive coordinator Ben Albert will join the Blue Devils after spending the past 3 years as an assistant at Boston College. The defensive line is an area where Duke struggled last year and partially led to the decline of the defense towards the end of last season, and Albert helped the Eagles’ defense become one of the best in the country and earn two bowl game berths in 2013 and 2014. He has also spent time as an assistant on the coaching staffs at Temple, Richmond, Delaware, Rutgers, the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL, and his alma mater UMass. Cutcliffe had this to say about the Blue Devils’ incoming defensive coordinator:
"“Ben brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of defensive football and recruiting to our staff. Obviously, we know his work with the Boston College defense all too well from a season ago when we couldn’t have been more impressed with their preparation and execution. You don’t lead the country in total defense by accident – you have to have a combination of outstanding players and exceptional coaches…I’m confident he will make a seamless transition into our program and have an incredible impact on our young men and the Duke community.”"
Duke Football will now have three new coordinators heading into next season, with Albert taking over the defense, Zac Roper moving from special teams coordinator to replace new ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery as offensive coordinator and associate head coach, and Jim Bridge coming over from Purdue to coach Duke special teams. Cutcliffe thinks very highly of all the new coaches, so hopefully these major coaching staff changes won’t hurt the Blue Devils as they begin preparing for next season.