For a university so known for its basketball program that many do not even know football exists at Duke, the team has been making tremendous strides that last few seasons. The team will have a favorable schedule this season, recent upgrades to their stadium are completed, and there are 12 returning starters ready to build on past success. All of this is combining to result in some great enthusiasm and momentum building in Raleigh.
The quarterback position is still up in the air, but a little healthy competition at training camp can be a good thing. Junior Thomas Sirk appears to be heading toward getting the nod. He is a physical quarterback, although he does still have a bit to work on in terms of his throwing fundamentals. He aslo has Mac McCaffrey and Braxton Deaver returning, but there does not appear to a big time wide receiver ready to replace Jamison Crowder, and his absence will certainly be felt. Because of this, most are expecting Duke to depend more heavily on their running game. They do have some power at this position in Jela Duncan, and speed in Shaun Wilson. In addition, Shaq Powell will be returning giving the Blue Devils the triple threat that they will need this coming season. The offensive line is a bit worrying, especially at right guard where Laken Tomlinon has since moved onto the NFL. There are some quality players coming this year, however, so after a few games under their belt, the Blue Devils should be ready to excel.
The strength of this team lies in the secondary on defense. They will be returning all five starters, and this includes safeties Jeremy Cash and Devon Edwards. They do lack the physical bodies up front that they would need to dominate opposing offenses, so that will be a bit concerning. Kelby Brown is out at linebacker as out for the season after suffering a knee injury. Last season he was one of the top defenders in the ACC, so his loss will definitely be felt. His younger brother, Kyler, is ready to step into the hybrid defensive end position, where he will be either pass rushing or dropping into coverage as the situation calls for. If he can pull this off, the defense might be able to make some waves. If not, it could be a long season for the Blue Devils. All in all, look for Duke to finish 6th in the ACC, and to be ranked somewhere around 51st in the country when it comes time for bowl season.
Head Coach David Cutcliffe will look to shift the view of Duke football around this season and come away with a winning record. Being in the ACC, Duke will face quality opponents such as: Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Miami. If Duke can come away with a winning record, the Blue Devils football team may be recognized as a legitimate college football team.
Courtesy of Fox Sports