Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Duke Preview

2007 Schedule

2006 Results: 0-12 overall, 0-8 ACC (last Coastal Division)

Offense: With a respected new offensive coordinator and all eleven starters returning, if the Blue Devils can't make a dent on the scoreboard this year, they likely never will. Duke was shutout three times last season and held below 20 points in five other games as they they shuffled through a stable of running backs (due to injury), while breaking in a freshman QB in Thaddeus Lewis (53% completions, 2134 yards, 11 TDs, 16 picks). The top two wideouts (Eron Riley, Jomar Wright) combined for 1200 yards and 6 TDs last year. All five starting O-linemen return, although whether that's a good thing or not remains to be seen, considering they accounted for just 2.9 yards per rush and allowed 43 sacks last year. Ole!

Defense: Five starters return, although due to inuries and substitution patterns, the new starters all have game experience, however two of them (LBs Marcus Jones and Tim Ball) played on the offensive side last year. 2006's leading tackler and defensive leader Mike Tauiliili apparently believes he plays for Florida, considering he was just busted for DWI, hit and run, assault with a firearm, and other Gator-esque crimes. Let's just say that Tauiliili won't be taking the field for awhile. DT Vince Oghobaase is a beast and All-ACC candidate. The secondary returns three starters from a unit that ranked - shockingly - last in the ACC in 2006.

Special teams: Let's just hope that Duke doesn't need this unit to come through on the Devils' probable one chance to win a game this year. K Joe Surgan returns, along with his 30% field goal average and 75% extra-point completion rate. P Kevin Jones redshirted last year. Both kick (Jabari Marshall) and punt (Leon Wright) returners are back, although neither of them were all that special in '06.

Coaching: From everything I've read and gathered, Ted Roof is a very capable and bright coach who is wasting his career in Durham. The embarrassing lack of support from the administration, athletic department and fan base has made the Duke head coaching position the most difficult of all 1-A programs. New OC Peter Vaas from Notre Dame is the fourth OC in five years under Roof, while DC Scott Brown has the position all to himself this year after his co-coordinator of the past three seasons, Jerry Azzinaro, was fired. Still, without a massive influx of committment from the Blue Devil administration, Duke is likely to never have a winning season anytime soon in today's college football environment, no matter who patrols the sidelines.

For What It's Worth: That new OC, Peter Vaas, was quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame the last two seasons and was a big reason for the resurrection of Brady Quinn's career; the Blue Devils meet the Irish on Nov. 17....Duke's average home attendance in 2006 (19,850) was by far the lowest of any BCS-conference program; second-lowest was the Big 10's Northwestern, who averaged 28,000....the Devils have just one win over a 1-A program in the last three years (16-13 over Clemson in '05, in one of those Tommy Bowden WTF? Specials)....the Devils have scared the bejesus out of two SEC powers in recent years; Tennessee led just 10-6 late in the 3rd quarter in an '03 matchup, while the Dukies led Alabama 14-10 in the 3rd quarter in Tuscaloosa last year before blowing it

Schedule Analysis: This is not a great schedule in which to change the perpetual downward trajectory of the program. After opening at home with Connecticut (likely their best shot at a win) the next four are on the road (Virginia, Northwestern, Navy, Miami). Further, the Devils get arguably the three-toughest teams from the Atlantic Divison (FSU, Clemson, Wake) in this year's rotation. At least no mediocre 1-AA teams will be able to embarrass the Dukies this year.
Projected Wins- none
Projected Losses- @Virginia, @Navy, @Miami, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, @Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, @Notre Dame, @North Carolina
Toss-Ups- Connecticut, @Northwestern

For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Blue Devil Insight: If anyone's aware of a Duke blog that at least somewhat discusses football, clue me in

Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:

Woo-Hoo! We won! Let's celebrate by sleeping in a tent for hoops tickets!

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