We enter November with the Duke Blue Devils heading up for a Friday night showdown.
Duke finished 3-9 last season, including going winless in the conference. The Blue Devils lost by 25 or more points in every ACC game except for a close one against Georgia Tech. They also lost to FCS UNC Charlotte.
Last Time Out
BC traveled down to Durham for Jeff Hafley’s first game as a head coach in 2020. The Eagles won 26-6.
After 14 seasons in charge, David Cutcliffe is out, and Mike Elko takes over. A former defensive coordinator Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and for the past three seasons Texas A&M
After averaging barely 400 yards off offense per game and the worst scoring offense in the ACC, in comes a new offense that will look to speed things up. They’ll shift things up at quarterback after Gunnar Holmberg transferred out. Riley Leonard played in six games last year and is the leading candidate to take over. The 6-4 sophomore has some solid mobility, rushing for 173 yards and two touchdowns, and went 37-62 and 362 parts in the air. Other backup QB Jordan Moore played in more games, but Leonard did much more with less and is expected to win the job.
Up front the offensive line returns four starters, although they didn’t excel in pass protection, another year of experience will surely help. Additionally, Duke brings in a few transfers for some more competition. They did however do the work to produce a 1000-yard rusher behind them. Unfortunately, said running back graduated so someone will have to step up. Their next leading rusher was a backup quarterback.. They have a few guys with limited experience, but their is an opening for a younger guy to step in.
Jake Bobo led the receiving corps with nearly 800 yards, but he’s off to UCLA. Fortunately, the Blue Devils have senior receiver Jalon Calhoun returning after over posting 700 yards himself along with three touchdowns. The next man up was Eli Pancol who had 17 catches, 233 yards, and one touchdown
Duke was the worst team in all of college football in total defense last season. They allowed 518 yards and 40 points per game. Nothing went right.
On the defensive front, they lose another starter to UCLA, but return their sack leader in RJ Oben. DeWayne Carter Jr. will be the name to watch on the inside after 37 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 7.5 tackles for loss. He also forced four fumbles and deflected a number of passes. Duke will need the 300-pounder to step up big time.
The biggest strength lies with the linebackers. Shaka Heyward and Dorian Mausi. Heyward in particular did a good job of creating plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Without a pass rush and with limited talent the secondary only had six interceptions. So new faces are coming in. Two transfers in Datrone Young and Darius Joiner enter the fold. Young comes in from Iowa State and Joiner from Western Illinois. Young may be undersized but has years of experience. Younger players here will likely need to step up, but Duke will have to expect plenty of growing pains as they transition to 4-2-5 defense.
Early Line Prediction
This should be fine, a nice reprieve (along with UConn the week prior) leading up to the final three games. Next up is a trip to NC State for BC.