College Football Preview: The 2015 Duke Blue Devils
Duke Blue Devils Preview
2014 Record: 9-4 (4th in the ACC) Lost Sun Bowl to Arizona State 36-31
Odds to Win National Championship: +50000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: David Cutcliffe has led the Duke Blue Devils to three consecutive bowl games and has won a combined 19 games in his last two seasons. Needless to say, Duke is far more than just a basketball school at the moment. After being ranked in the AP Poll in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 60s, the question now should be if Duke is ready to make a the next jump and compete for an ACC crown?
Offense: Thomas Sirk will be the new quarterback for Duke, a guy who has thrown just 14 passes in his career but is a dual-threat and capable of keeping this explosive offense of the past afloat. Max McCaffrey will be the new top target without Issac Blakeney and Jamison Crowder on the roster, and Johnell Barnes is sure to see an expanded role after hauling in 23 receptions as a sophomore. Duke is likely going to be a running back by committee once again, as Shaquille Powell, Shaun Wilson and Joseph Ajeigbe are sure to get plenty of touches. Duke has to replace two offensive line starters, including NFL prospect Laken Tomlinson on the right side. Duke will have a lot of new faces at some of the more important positions offensively.
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Defense: Duke’s defense has less questions to answer, as DeVon Edwards, Jeremy Cash and Bryon Fields help form one of the better secondary’s in the ACC. Duke was 34th in pass defense last season and every player who intercepted a pass for this unit has returned. Chris Holmes proved he could play the linebacker position with 30 tackles as a freshman and Kyler Brown should be ready for a breakout season. The defensive line is very young, but Carlos Wray is a nice experienced peice to help hold things together until guys step up. Keep an eye on Edgar Cerenord, a defensive tackle who was a playmaking machine at the high school level and should get chances to contribute early. Duke could be better on the defensive side this season, which is scary.
Special Teams: Will Monday returns at punter after averaging 43 yards per kick on 59 attempts. Ross Martin returns at kicker after making 90.5 percent of his kicks on 21 attempts.
Overall: Duke is as well coached as any team in the league and can beat you in all three areas of the game. Duke has a solid defense and an offense that should be able to hold its own despite losing many big time players. I think Duke can be a sleeper team in the ACC once again, but the real deciding factor will be just how effective Sirk can be at quarterback in his first season as a starter. If Sirk hits the ground running, look out.