2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 71 Duke Blue Devils
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Duke Blue Devils
No. 71: Duke Blue Devils
Duke Blue Devils Prespring Status
Going to bowl games turned into the norm for Duke under David Cutcliffe, but last season the program took a step back with an offense that wasn’t as dangerous as past years in an ACC that got a whole lot better. The O that averaged 31.5 points and 439 yards per game two years ago – and went 8-5 – but last year averaged just 393 yards and 23 points per outing going 4-8.
So what was the problem? Losing QB Thomas Sirk before the season set the O back, and it just never found its consistent groove, even when Daniel Jones stepped up as the year went on. Now Sirk is back from his Achilles’ heel injury – at least, he will be eventually – for an attack that should end up with nine starters back at some point to go along with the seven starters returning on D.
Duke Blue Devils Biggest Issue
The secondary has to find three new starters. The Blue Devils get five starters back on the defensive front six, but the pass defense that wasn’t exactly a prize last year now has to improve with a slew of new players. Deondre Singleton is gone from one safety spot after finishing third on the team with 60 tackles, and Corbin McCarthy is done from another after finishing fourth with 59 stops. Top corner Breon Borders are gone, too, after combining with Singleton for five of the team’s ten picks.
Duke Blue Devils Biggest Positive
The passing game will be better. How fast can Sirk really be back to normal? Even if he’s not, Jones showed promise as the year went on, closing out with a 300-yard, three-score day against Miami. T.J. Rahming was a dominant short-range target – catching 70 passes for 742 yards and a score – and now he and seven of the top nine receivers are back.
Really, Why Are The Duke Blue Devils Ranked Here?
It might all depend on how good the rest of the ACC is. The Blue Devils have to be able to keep up the pace against the league’s dangerous teams, and now they have the experience to get back to a bowl game after the year off. But here’s the thing to remember about last year’s team. 4-8 might have been bad, but it could’ve been a whole lot worse – the three wins over FBS teams were by a total of ten points.