Clemson Game Can Be ‘Statement Win’ for Duke

CHARLOTTE — Duke is embracing the opportunity to host Clemson at home on Labor Day with open arms.

Returning 17 starters from a team that won nine games in Mike Elko’s first season as head coach, starting quarterback Riley Leonard told media members at the ACC Kickoff that knocking off a team of Clemson’s caliber would prove that what the Blue Devils accomplished a season ago wasn’t a fluke.

“That is a huge opportunity for us,” Leonard said. “Labor Day on Monday night. It is an opportunity. It is less of a challenge and more of an opportunity to prove to everybody that last year wasn’t a one year fluke. We’re here to stay. We are here to build this school into a dual sport school.”

The junior quarterback readily admitted that Duke has yet to have one of those program defining wins under the leadership of Elko. A victory over the Tigers just might qualify.

“I don’t know,” Leonard said when asked what a win would mean for the program. “I don’t know if we have really had that statement win yet, so I am looking forward to it. That is a good question.”

While Wallace Wade isn’t one of the bigger venues in the ACC, Leonard is still expecting a raucous environment when the two teams face off. Something that he began preparing for early in the offseason.

“I have watched a lot of Clemson with our coaches,” Leonard said. “Obviously, everybody knows they type of team that they are. Getting a jump-start on those guys, so I have watched a lot of their film already. They run some good stuff on defense so it will be fun to get out there after them.”

“If you want to be compared to the best, you have to play the best and beat the best. Playing against those guys is going to be a dream come true. We are not too far away from each other when it comes to schools so we are going to have great fan bases there. I can’t wait to kick off the season.”

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