4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DUKE DEFENSE
– Eight starters return to a defense that struggled at getting into the backfield and gave up 409 yards per game, but was good enough to get by. When the D allowed 27 points or fewer, Duke was 7-0. 27 or more, and it was 1-5. It shouldn’t take any sort of a step back, and it might even be a bit stronger thanks to a terrific secondary.
– The pass defense was good, now it should be great with the return of all-star CB Mark Gilbert, who picked off seven passes two years ago but was lost to a hip injury early on last season.
S Dylan Singleton was fantastic before suffering a broken ankle – he’s back, along with Gilbert – and fellow safeties Marquis Waters and Leonard Johnson are good-tackling vets who can ball.
– The linebacking corps is the issue after losing Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys, but it’s not starting from scratch. Junior Brandon Hill will be one of the team’s leading tacklers, and 230-pound Koby Quansah is a solid veteran.
They’ll be helped by a line that returns all four starters, led by top pass rushing DE Victor Dimukeje and run-stopping DT Derrick Tangelo on the inside.