#47 Duke Football 2015 Preview

Duke Blue Devils

Overall Rank: #47
#8 ACC

Duke Team Page#47 Duke Football 2015 PreviewBuy Duke Football Tickets

Duke continued its ascent under David Cutcliffe last season as they went down to the final weeks of the season in contention for the ACC Coastal Division title. Despite losing three of four to end the 2014 season, the Blue Devils return plenty of talent. And while they have to replace Anthony Boone at quarterback, Duke has an excellent chance to make another run at a nine win season if everything falls into place.

2014 Record: 9-4, 5-3
2014 Bowl: Sun Bowl Bowl vs. Arizona State (L 31-36)
Coach: David Cutcliffe 40-48 at Duke, 84-77 overall
Offensive Coordinator: Scottie Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Knowles

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Shaquille Powell, RB, 618 yards
Passing: Thomas Sirk, QB, 67 yards
Receiving: Max McCaffrey, WR, 385 yards
Tackles: Devon Edwards, S, 133
Sacks: Jeremy Cash, S, 5.5
Interceptions: Breon Borders, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: C Matt Skura, TE Braxton Deaver, P Will Monday,  K Ross Martin

Key Losses: QB Anthony Boone, WR Jamison Crowder, WR Issac Blakeney, LB David Helton, LB C.J. France, LB Kelby Brown

One of the biggest strengths of the Duke program is that they find a way to make a key play defensively when they need it to keep opponents off the scoreboard. Safety Jeremy Cash and Cornerback Breon Borders are outstanding playmakers that will need to once again lead the Blue Devils defensively until they can develop a stronger pass rush. Devon Edwards is back as well in the secondary and he has a relentless nose for the football. Edwards had 133 tackles to pace Duke last season. Edwards has to put up similar numbers in 2015 for the Blue Devils to be successful. There is experience back at the skill positions with running back Shaquille Powell and wide receiver Max McCaffrey back in the fold. With the inexperience at quarterback heading into the season, offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery is going to give opponents a heavy dose of Shaquille Powell at running back.

Thomas Sirk has the challenge of replacing Anthony Boone at quarterback heading into the 2015 season. Sirk saw limited duty in 2014 and, with a reloaded offensive line, it is going to be a fascinating to see Coach Cutcliffe work his magic in developing Sirk. The receiver depth has taken a hit with the loss of all-everything wide receiver Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney. It will be up to Max McCaffrey and a healthier Braxton Deaver at tight end to pick up the slack and make life easier for Sirk to get the ball to them. The offensive line has questions to get answered as they will need center Matt Skura to be an all-ACC caliber center to lead the way along with Gabe Brandner to take care of business at left tackle. Getting stronger against the run defensively is another glaring weakness that has to get better and it will be up to guys like Carlos Wray and A.J. Wolf to stay healthy and become more of a force on the defensive line in order to make opposing teams one dimensional.

The Bottom Line:
Duke has an early part of the schedule that will be conducive for them to get off to a fast start. Northwestern, Georgia Tech and Boston College anchor a four game home stretch after the season opener that will dictate the direction of the Blue Devils season right off the bat. A fast start will soften the blow of a final seven game stretch that has five road games on the docket. If Duke can stay healthy and get the quarterback position solved right off the bat then the Blue Devils will have an excellent shot to have another eight to nine win season. If Duke can’t find answers offensively then they will be staring down the barrel at a struggle to get to six wins and bowl eligibility.

Projected Bowl: Poinsettia Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 181.8 (46th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 216.5 (77, 8)
Total Offense: 398.3 (66, 8)
Scoring Offense: 32.4 (40, 4)
Rushing Defense: 192.9 (92, 13)
Pass Defense: 206.8 (33, 8)
Total Defense: 399.7 (67, 12)
Scoring Defense: 21.8 (24, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.46 (33, 2)
Sacks: 2.23 (55, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (8, 2)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#84 Jeremy Cash

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#187 Ben Humphreys


See All College Sports Madness Top 104 Football Previews