2017 Football Preview – ACC – Blue Devils
Looking for 2017 Duke Blue Devils predictions? The Blue Devils threw people for a bit of a loop last year. Last year had every look of a rebuilding campaign, and then the Blue Devils beat North Carolina and Notre Dame. They still finished with just four wins and missed the postseason for the first time in five years.
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- 2017-18 College Football Preview – Duke Blue Devils
- Head Coach: David Cutcliffe
- 2016 Record: 4-8
- Duke Blue Devils Odds to win the 2017 FBS Championship: +50000
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While Duke features some interesting talent in spots, the ACC is a mighty tough place these days. The Dookies could be better and not make much material progress in the standings.
Duke has a youthful offense, and it clearly has shown flashes of brilliance with the victories over some rivals and major football programs. The bulk of the optimism rests on that bright-eyed attack taking another plunge forward.
Last year, the offense averaged just 23.3 points per contest, which was the first time since 2011 that the Blue Devils posted a metric below 30 per game.
This season could be one of steep learning curves, as traditionally, relying on a green offense and a defense isn’t a formula for success. Coach Cutcliffe thinks he has a few players that can spur the turnaround quicker than people think, however.
2017 Duke Blue Devils Predictions: Team Strengths
Three of a Kind on Offense: The attack will be orchestrated by sophomore QB Daniel Jones, junior WR T.J. Rahming and senior RB Shaun Wilson.
Last year, returning starting QB Thomas Sirk suffered not one but two Achilles’ tendon tears, essentially flushing his football career down the tube.
He opted to transfer to East Carolina, but we’ll see what happens from there. Hence, the Devils turned to redshirt freshman Jones as their QB. Jones chucked eight INTs in his first few games, but he improved as he went along.
Jones threw just one pick over his final seven contests, and he also completed 63% of his passes.
Rahming has emerged as a favorite target of the underclassman, as he grabbed 70 receptions for 742 yards as a sophomore in ’16.
Apparently, it’s not just Rahming, either; Cutcliffe believes that this is his best WR corps in his nine years in Durham, NC.
Hence, juniors Johnathan Lloyd and Chris Taylor will look to impress and not make their head coach eat his words. In the backfield, senior Wilson possesses breakaway speed, which is always a game-changer.
Backup tailback Brittain Brown is also prepared to get in the mix.
Linebacker Central: In the middle of the defense, junior Ben Humphreys and sophomore Joe Giles-Harris are a productive tandem. The pair led the team in tackles, with 107 (Giles-Harris) and 106 (Humphreys) respectively.
Longtime defensive co-ordinator Jim Knowles likes to play five players in the secondary, so the LB pair do the bulk of the heavy lifting from sideline-to-sideline.
It’s a good thing, because over the winter Marquies Price and Brandon Boyce, two key players on the D-line, were dismissed from the program.
2017 Duke Blue Devils Predictions: Team Weaknesses
A Lack of Depth: While Duke has recruited better recently, there are still some residual knocks felt on the program, as evidenced by the glut of sophomores with starting jobs, especially on the defense.
At least two sophs will start on the defensive line following the absence of Price and Boyce, to go with Giles-Harris and two guys in the back seven, CB Mark Gilbert and safety Jordan Hayes.
This means that Cutcliffe and his staff are bringing in some players good enough to see the field early, but it also means that any injuries should decimate the defense in 2017.
The Blue Devils will certainly look to senior CB Bryon Fields to provide some much-needed leadership, after Price and Boyce ‘failed to meet program standards’.
This offseason, Duke inked a four-star defensive end Drew Jordan, which should help in the future. Jordan chose the Blue Devils over 18 other scholarship offers.
The kicking game desperately needs to get better in Durham. Coach Cutcliffe’s special teams units are generally a strength, but Duke went a lousy three-for-10 in its field goal attempts a year ago.
In a word, freshman kicker A.J. Reed sucked in 2016. He lost his job to punter Austin Parker; the sophomore will probably handle both duties this season as Reed will be left pondering whether he should take up another pursuit.
Duke Blue Devils Prediction: 4-8
Coaxing these underclassmen into their full potential should help Duke improve, but with such a dog-eat-dog ACC conference and with Baylor and Florida State added to the 2017 schedule, I fail to see where Duke will make the improvements in the win column.
Yet, this is a football program that has thrived on shattering people’s expectations in the past – just ask nemesis UNC and prestigious Notre Dame about their recent experiences.
If Duke can keep games close and put more points up on the board, the Blue Devils should make for an interesting match-up, if nothing else.
If you’re desperate for silver linings, the Dookies get Northwestern, Baylor, Miami, Florida State and Pittsburgh at home. That’s the bulk of the heavy lifting on the slate this year.
2017 Duke Blue Devils Football Schedule
- 9/2/17 TBD NC CENT. (FCS)
- 9/9/17 TBD N’WESTERN
- 9/16/17 TBD BAY
- 9/23/17 TBD at UNC
- 9/29/17 TBD MIA (Fl)
- 10/7/17 TBD at UVA
- 10/14/17 TBD FSU
- 10/21/17 TBD PITT
- 10/28/17 TBD at VT
- 11/11/17 TBD at ARMY
- 11/18/17 TBD GT
- 11/25/17 TBD at WAKE
What do you think about our 2017 Duke Blue Devils predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in 2017!
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