Returning Starters – Offense: 6 Defense: 6
Preview: Duke put together yet another strong campaign last season as they went 9-3 through the regular season followed by a disappointing 31-36 loss in the Sun Bowl against Arizona State. The Duke football program has been completely turned around under head coach David Cutcliffe and it just goes to show that coaching can mean more than player talent in the results of the team on the college level. Duke has some holes to fill on both sides of the ball, but the team is hoping to reload instead of rebuild.
The first job is replacing Anthony Boone who was one of the best QBs in the history of Duke’s program. It appears that junior Thomas Sirk will take over the QB position and he has some decent options to throw to with McCaffrey and Deaver coming back, but the loss of Crowder really hurts. Duke’s offense is likely to focus more on the run this season with 3 solid options in the backfield with Wilson, Powell, and Duncan. The O-line losses Tomlinson who was a first round draft pick, but the head coach believes this unit has guys ready to step up and fill the gaps.
Without question the Blue Devils have a serious strength on defense with their secondary. With all starters returning this unit should help carry the team on this side of the ball. The secondary returns playmakers like Cash and Edward at the safety position. The defensive front has some beef up front, but these guys are untested at this point in their careers. The D-line will look for guys like Wray and Kyler Brown to be consistent forces, while LB Kelby Brown continues to be the leader of this defense.
Prediction: Duke has a manageable nonconference schedule again this season which will help them potentially get back to a bowl game. The issue for Duke is they need to replace QB Anthony Boone and that’s a lot easier said than done. If the defensive front can make strides then this is still a team to watch out for in the ACC. Getting back to a bowl game during a rebuilding year would be a strong statement for the Duke program.
Projected Record: 6-6 (2-6)