#86 Duke Football 2013 Preview

Duke Blue Devils

Overall Rank: #86
#13 ACC

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Until last season it had been 18 years since Duke went to a bowl game. The trip to the Belk Bowl did not end well as the Blue Devils could not contain the Cincinnati offense, but when it has been that long, just getting there is enough. The next goal will be to win a bowl game, yet that may take another 18 years.

2012 Record: (6-7, 3-5)
2012 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Cincinnati (L 34-48)
Coach: David Cutcliffe (21-40 at Duke, 65-69 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kurt Roper
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Knowles

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jela Duncan, RB, 516 yards
Passing: Anthony Boone, QB, 531 yards
Receiving: Jamison Crowder, WR, 1,025 yards
Tackles: Ross Cockrell, CB, 63
Sacks: Kenny Anunike, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Ross Cockrell, CB, 5

Other Key Returnees: DE Justin Foxx, LB C.J. France, G Dave Harding, OT Tacoby Cofield, TE David Reeves, DT Sydney Sarmiento, OT Perry Simmons, RB Juwan Thompson, G Laken Tomlinson

Key Losses: CB Lee Butler, S Jordan Byas, S Walt Canty, LB Austin Gamble, C Brian Moore, QB Sean Renfree, WR Desmond Scott, WR Conner Vernon

Coach David Cutcliffe knows how to get the most out of his quarterback and his next project will be Anthony Boone. Sean Renfree proved to be an extremely efficient quarterback and he led this team to the bowl appearance. Renfree connected on over 66 percent of his passes during his senior campaign and threw for 2,755 yards and 18 touchdowns. Boone, a 6-0 junior, has some experience, throwing for 531 yards and five scores a year ago. Yet, it is unlikely that he can be as efficient as Renfree right away. Not having Conner Vernon to throw the ball to will not help. Vernon caught 75 passes for 955 yards and seven scores as a senior. Desmond Scott is also gone after catching 61 passes in 2012. The receivers will not have to wait long to find their new star though. Jamison Crowder is back after tallying 70 receptions for 1,025 yards and eight touchdowns. When looking for a big play receiver, it does not get much better than Crowder. Duke will need bigger receivers like Max McCaffrey and Anthony Nash to step up and take some of the pressure off of Crowder. The rushing game should be able to open things up for the new Boone to Crowder combination. Jela Duncan, Josh Snead and Juwan Thompson are all back to attempt to improve the ground game. Thompson, a 5-11 senior, is the likely starter, but Duncan had a very promising freshman campaign and could step into the lead role sooner or later.

It is no surprise that the Duke defense struggled yet again in 2012. The unit ranked 101st in the nation in rushing and passing defense. The good news is that four starters are returning to the front line. End Kenny Anunike is a solid pass rusher, tallying 5.0 sacks and 6.0 tackles-for-loss in 2012 and Sydney Sarmiento does give the line some size. The real problem is in the secondary where three starters are gone, including safeties Walt Canty and Jordan Byas, who ranked first and second on the team in tackles. Senior Ross Cockrell is a great corner, but he will be surrounded by underclassmen in the Blue Devil’s 4-2-5 defense.

The Bottom Line:
The defense is not going to get any better compared to last year and the offense will likely take a small step back without Renfree and Vernon leading the way. The offense has the potential to be special if the young skill players can play up to their potential. With an experienced offensive line, they will have the chance to develop into something special. But on the other side of the ball, Duke is going to have the same problems they always have…they will be beat up on the line and burnt deep way too often.

Projected Bowl: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 125.23 (98th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 283.92 (31, 5)
Total Offense: 409.15 (55, 7)
Scoring Offense: 31.54 (44, 5)
Rushing Defense: 201.54 (101, 10)
Pass Defense: 267.62 (101, 11)
Total Defense: 469.15 (105, 11)
Scoring Defense: 36.00 (107, 12)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (50, 5)
Sacks: 1.92 (66, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.46 (35, 3)


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