9 Returning Starters (2 Offense, 7 Defense)
Key Players: QB Marcus Jones, WR Ronnie Drummer, RB Justin Boyle, DE Eli
Nichols, CB John Talley, LB Michael Tauliili
Overall View: This year will be pretty typical for the Duke Blue Devils,
especially on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is good enough that
they could probably hold up fairly well if they weren’t on the field for the
majority of the game, thanks to an inept offense. Points will be hard to come by
this year, and Duke will be lucky if they can manage to beat a Division 1-A
Duke has some big play ability at wide receiver. Jomar Wright averaged 19.4
yards per catch on eight receptions last year, while Eron Riley averaged 22.5
yards per catch on 11 receptions. They are projected to be the starting wideouts
for the Blue Devils this season, and they will have to make big plays if Duke
wants to stay in games.
Ronnie Drummer, who had 33 carries for 352 yards last year, a whopping 10.2
per carry, has also been moved to wide receiver. They hope he can continue to
make big plays from his new position.
With the suspension of incumbent starter Zack
Asack for plagiarism, Duke will only field two scholarship quarterbacks
this year, one of which will be a true freshman. True sophomore Marcus Jones is
the starter, and he split time between quarterback and wide receiver last year.
He completed 2-of-7 passes for six yards and one interception.
Jones has a good arm and is a good athlete, but he will be playing behind a
bad offensive line, and he has very little experience. True freshman Thaddeus
Lewis was rated the #10 dual threat quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com, but
would likely struggle in his first season at quarterback.
Duke should have a decent overall defense this year, but its strength will be
in the secondary, where three starters return. Cornerback John Talley had five
interceptions last season, and he is the leading active NCAA player in career
interceptions with 11. Many project him as an All-ACC candidate this season at
the very least.
Duke also returns the other starting corner, Deonto McCormick. He has
struggled in the past, but he is an experienced senior. Chris Davis also returns
as the starting free safety.
Duke returns leading tackler Michael Tauiliili at middle linebacker, but he
is the only returning starting linebacker on the team. Tauiliili started as a
true freshman last season and led all freshmen linebackers in the nation with 92
tackles. Duke’s second leading tackler from last year, Brendan Dewan is gone.
Stepping up to man the other two linebacker spots are Codey Lowe and Jeramy
Edwards. Edwards, a senior, was moved from safety to linebacker in the
It’s very tough to see Duke winning a game against a 1-A team this year.
They should beat Richmond on September 2. On October 28, Vanderbilt comes to
town, pitting the academic school of the SEC against the academic school of the
ACC. Vandy will be the heavy favorite, but it would be big for the Blue Devils
if they could pull that one off.