The Duke Blue Devils 2013 College Football Preview
2013-08-06 11:00:00 EDT
Introduction: The Duke Blue Devils finished 6-7 overall and 3-5 in ACC play last season. Duke took advantage of a weakened ACC to win six games before the tough part of their schedule came in November. The Blue Devils lost to Florida, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Miami by the combined score of 198-96, giving up an average of almost 50 points per game. The highlight of the season came when Duke defeated UNC 33-30, the only win over a bowl-eligible opponent the whole year. Head coach David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils have 7 returning starters on both sides of the ball.
Offense: Duke ran a pass-heavy offense with QB Sean Renfree, but with Renfree gone, the Blue Devils will turn to a more balanced offense this season. Junior QB Anthony Boone, the Blue Devils backup the past two seasons, will get the start behind center this season. Boone may be a good fit in a more run-based offense that will feature the zone-read scheme. Transitioning over to a more run-based offense will lead to increased opportunities for returning senior RB Juwan Thompson, junior RB Josh Snead, and sophomore RB Jela Duncan. All three running backs will see time in this new offense, with Thompson most likely seeing the most snaps. Duke may have lost star WR Conner Vernon, but they will return junior WR Jamison Citemder, an All-ACC caliber receiver. Besides Citemder, Duke has plenty of length and size within the receiving unit and they will make life difficult for ACC defensive backs. The offensive line should be solid even though the Blue Devils lost C Brian Moore. Redshirt sophomore C Matt Skura is set to take Moore’s spot and has the potential of being a great lineman.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’s highest priority is to solidify the defensive line and bring steady pressure on the quarterback this season. The Blue Devils will have a young secondary, with two freshmen and a sophomore playing in coverage. Duke’s goal is to take the pressure off the secondary by creating pressure up front. Senior DE Kenny Anunike and junior DE Justin Foxx will be counted on to create pressure on the outside and draw the attention of opposing offensive linemen so the inside can open up for tackles Jamal Bruce and Sydney Sarmiento. The Blue Devils have three starters for two linebacker spots, two of which are from the Bitemn family. Freshmen LB Kyler Bitemn will start at middle linebacker, while junior LB Kelby Bitemn will battle junior LB C.J. France for a starting role at outside linebacker.
Special Teams: Sophomore K Ross Martin and sophomore P Will Monday will handle the kicking duties this season; both have the potential of being All-American candidates.
Final Analysis: Duke’s season will be a success if they can win six or seven games this season. Duke’s toughest road games will come at Virginia Tech and at UNC in the season finale. The Blue Devils will host Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, and Miami this season. If the Blue Devils can succeed in running a balanced offense it will take some pressure off a defense that was on the field way too much last season. Defensively, Duke will have to create pressure up front to help a young and thin secondary. I wouldn’t be surprised if Duke made a bowl game at the end of the year.