Tag Archives: Duke Football

Duke Football Notebook

Duke Football Notebook
Duke Football Notebook

Football season is coming and fast as evidenced by the fact that the ACC media will gather in Charlotte this week to discuss the 2017 campaign.

Duke hopes to get back to a bowl game again this season and to doing so while possible will be difficult in a tough conference.  The Blue Devils return 12 starters from a season ago and will be a young team at several key positions.

The Blue Devils had been to four consecutive bowl games before that streak was broken a season ago.  Duke is expected to be picked 6th in their division once votes are cast but their fortunes could be better in the Coastal race.

Here are a few pre season notes and information heading into Media Day for the Blue Devils.

Team Strengths

  • Daniel Jones had a break out season after replacing the departed and formerly injured Thomas Sirk at the start of last season.  Jones was thrown directly into the fire and after a slow start showed immense promise moving forward.  Jones will take his first snaps this season with much more experience.
  • The wideouts pretty much return intact and there is more depth at this position than in years past.  Duke has experience at Tight end to go with talented newcomers as well.
  • The offensive line should come together at least where the starters are concerned.
  • The Linebackers are solid with depth in the two-man starter scheme.
  • Coaching should be better as many on the staff had a season to get their feet wet in competition after a year that featured major change.

Team Questions

  • While the offense returns a lot of players on paper, the unit has to score no less than 7 more points from a season ago to compete.
  • The defensive front will build depth as it goes and is very young.
  • The defensive backfield is young as well and will break in new starters.  Having a young unproven front and back is not an ideal situation.
  • The kicking game was abysmal a season ago.  There are some newcomers hoping to help, but the team must find a kicker that can knock down a 40 yard and in FG on a moderately consistent basis.

Other notes

  • As far as freshman who are most likely to start during the season we'll tab WR Scott Bracey Jr. on the offensive side of the ball.  A redshirt freshman has the skill set to compete early on for a starters spot.  On defense, look for true freshman DE to possibly start from day one or after a few games into the season.
  • Duke will also need to build running back depth quickly with two freshman high on the depth chart behind senior Shawn Wilson.
  • Duke will send QB Daniel Jones and DB Byron Fields to ACC media day as team representatives this Friday.
  • Duke opens the 2017 season with three consecutive home games before travelling to North Carolina for an early season ACC opener with its arch rival.

2014 Will Be a Senior Laden Team

Boone 150x150Duke will be a senior laden team in 2014. A quick look at the roster reveals 15 seniors with starting experience who will either start or be the first substitute at their position in 2014. Eight of the fifteen will take the field on defense, while the remaining seven are offensive players. Those fifteen players are spread across all positions with the exception of the secondary.

Here is the player listing with the number of career starts in parenthesis:

OG Laken Tomlinson (39), OT Takoby Cofield (29), LB Kelby Brown (29), WR Jamison Crowder (27), LB David Helton (19), DT Jamal Bruce (15), TE Braxton Deaver (15), QB Anthony Boone (12), LB C.J. France (12), RB Josh Snead (11), DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (9), DT Jamal Wallace (8), DE Dezmond Johnson (6), WR Issac Blakeney (5), DE Jonathan Jones (2).

Those numbers reflect a great deal of experience by players who have become accustomed to winning over the past two seasons. Their experience should pay big dividends in the upcoming 2014 season when Duke takes the field to defend their Coastal Division Championship.

Experience can be quantified by looking at the number of games a player has started and the number of snaps he has played. How about talent level? Are Duke's seniors talented? Judging by the number who earned post season and preseason accolades, the answer is yes.

Jamison Crowder and Kelby Brown were 1st Team All ACC in 2013, while Laken Tomlinson was named to the 2nd Team and Braxton Deaver was named to the 3rd Team. Tomlinson and Deaver were also named to the ESPN All-Bowl Team.

A look at 2014 preview magazines lists reveals the presence of the four seniors listed above plus David Helton, Anthony Boone and Takoby Cofield. Here are the preseason All ACC selections by a couple of magazines.

Lindy's: (1st Team) Jamison Crowder and Laken Tomlinson. (2nd Team) Kelby Brown, Braxton Deaver and David Helton. (3rd Team) Anthony Boone.

Phil Steele: (1st Team) Jamison Crowder, Laken Tomlinson and Kelby Brown. (2nd Team) Braxton Deaver and David Helton. (3rd Team) Anthony Boone. (4th Team) Takoby Cofield.

Both Jamison Crowder and Laken Tomlinson were named preseason All America by various magazines.

With the facts all lined up, it is evident Duke's senior class is both experienced and talented.

Strong leadership is a crucial element in team success with experience significantly enhancing leadership acumen. The 2014 squad is loaded with talented, experienced players who are potential team leaders.

Anthony Boone was a team captain in 2013 and will be expected to be the team leader in 2014.

When discussing leadership, Josh Snead has to be part of the conversation. Snead led Duke in rushing in 2013 with 651 yards on 107 carries for an impressive 6.1 yards per carry average. Snead is vocal leader on both the field and the sidelines and will certainly be a guy teammates look to for both direction and inspiration.

The five senior defensive linemen could be the group who will have the biggest impact on achieving success in 2014. Games are won and lost in the trenches so it will be up to the defensive linemen to control the line of scrimmage and generate a pass rush to disrupt the opponent’s offensive flow.

In 2013, Jonathan Jones recorded three quarterback sacks, Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo recorded two, while Dezmond Johnson and Jamal Bruce generated one each. The importance of pressuring the quarterback cannot be overstated so it is imperative the senior defensive lineman are productive in order for Duke to be successful.

Behind the front four, line-up two extremely productive linebackers. Kelby Brown and David Helton are dynamic ball players with a nose for the football. Helton led the team in tackles with 133, while Brown recorded 114 tackles and two big interceptions in wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

On offense, Duke returns their leading passer, receiver and rusher from last season: Anthony Boone threw for 2260 yards an 13 touchdowns; Jamison Crowder hauled in 108 receptions for 1360 yards and eight touchdowns; and, Josh Snead rushed for 651 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, senior Braxton Deaver recorded 46 receptions for 600 yards and four touchdowns. Those four seniors will bring a tremendous amount of experience onto the field in 2014.

Turning to the offensive line, senior Laken Tomlinson is one of the best offensive linemen in the country. He will be drafted in one of the early rounds of the NFL Draft come next spring. Takoby Cofield also possesses NFL level talent and from his left tackle position he will be tasked with protecting Anthony Boone’s blindside.

While this article focuses on the seniors, the 2014 Blue Devils will include many talented juniors such as 2013 All America selectee Jeremy Cash plus plenty of underclassmen who shined last season. Junior Will Monday and sophomore DeVon Edwards also earned high praise in the various preview magazines.

However, 2014 is the last hooray for the seniors so the expectation is they will be playing with a sense of urgency. It is the seniors who will lead the charge when the Blue Devils take the field looking to earn a second consecutive trip to the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game and a third straight bowl game.

Fortunately for Duke, this year’s seniors are a strong group of talented, experienced leaders!

Magical Night for DeVon Edwards – The Man of the Hour

In case you missed the Duke Blue Devils thrilling 38-20 win over N.C. State, some guy named DeVon Edwards scored on a 100 yard kickoff return to give Duke a 17-13 lead over N.C. State and he would later have back to back interceptions on consecutive plays both for touchdowns.  If you didn't know Edwards name before, you certainly will moving forward.  Coach Cutcliffe said he had a "A magic night," in his post game presser and most of the media agreed.  In fact, the only thing Edwards didn't do was leap over a tall building with a single bound.  Edwards was a gem on the recruiting trail that Cut and company turned up and few recruited him out of high school, so yes, the staff knew what they were doing offering him.  It was quite simply one of the better personal efforts of any player in recent memory and his play electrified the near capacity crowd.  In fact, Edwards gave Duke a shot in the arm when their offense struggled mightily in the second half.  Enjoy his post game interview and you'll quickly see he is a humble young man, one which represents the type of character the current staff loves to bring in.