Duke Blue Devils Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Duke Blue Devils Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Duke Blue Devils Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Duke Blue Devils Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Duke season with what you need to know and keys to the season.


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Duke Blue Devils Preview
Head Coach: Mike Elko, 1st year
2021 Preview: Overall: 3-9, Conference: 0-8
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Duke Top 10 Players | Duke Schedule & Analysis

Duke Blue Devils Preview 2022

It’s not all that long ago that Duke was going to bowl games.

It’s possible to win in Durham. It might not be easy, and it might take a perfect storm and several upsets, but the Blue Devils had five winning seasons in six years from 2013 to 2018, and they went to six bowls in seven seasons before it all went off the rails.

How rough has it been? After a good start in 2019, Duke has gone 6-21.

Where did it all go wrong? The offense fell flat under a legendary offensive head coach David Cutcliffe, and now the program is going in a different direction.

It’s time to play a little defense, too. You don’t get a first time head coach like Mike Elko unless you want to stop someone.

The former defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and Notre Dame was hired to change around the Duke program and take it in a different direction, and it’s possible to be good again in a hurry.

The talent level isn’t there compared to the rest of the ACC, and the depth is lacking after losing too much through the transfer portal, but this will be a different looking Duke team on one side of the ball, and on the other …

Duke Blue Devils Preview 2022: Offense

Duke will still focus on the offense, too. Offensive coordinator Kevin Johns will want to speed up the attack, open things up with both creating wide open spaces and spreading everyone out, and after working at Memphis and Texas Tech, there will be a good tempo.

How bad was the Duke offense last season? It wasn’t totally awful. It averaged a solid 418 yards per game – the running game worked at times – but it was a struggle to score. And now …

The offensive line might be the early strength to work around. It was hardly a steamroller of a Blue Devil ground game, but it was effective at times, and now four starters are expected to be back. There were too many plays allowed in the backfield, and the group didn’t take over enough, but the front five will be experienced.

1,244-yard running back Mataeo Durant is done, and the second-leading rusher was likely backup quarterback Jordan Moore. Jordan Waters is a good-sized back who ran for 197 yards, and he’ll be the main man in the rotation early on.

Is Riley Leonard really ready to take over and make the O fly? He saw a little bit of time as the No. 2 quarterback – throwing for 381 yards and a touchdown in place of new FIU likely starter Gunnar Holmberg – but he’s a big passer with the mobility to be a problem when he gets room to move.

The receiving corps loses leading receiver Jake Bobo to UCLA, but Jalen Calhoun should be able to pick up the slack – he led the team with three touchdown catches and was a decent deep threat at times – and Eli Pancol and Darrell Harding are big targets with experience.

Duke Blue Devils Preview 2022: Defense

Why did Duke hire a defensive head coach in Mike Elko? There were 130 teams in college football last year, and Duke was ranked 130 in total defense. The Blue Devils allowed 518 yards and 40 points per game, the run defense was bad, the pass D worse, and Elko and co-defensive coordinators Robb Smith and Jess Simpson will hammer hard to improve everything right away starting with …

The linebackers. The 2 in the 4-2-5 have the potential to be among the team’s biggest strengths. Shaka Heyward and Dorian Mausi are smallish ballers who combined for 157 tackles, but they had to make way too many plays behind a line that didn’t hold up.

320-pound tackle Gary Smith is off to UCLA, but DeWayne Carter is a big veteran to start with on the interior – he’s a good factor in the backfield. The pass rush has to show up with leading sacker RJ Oben on one side and a rotation coming on the other.

The secondary only came up with six interceptions – the D got eight in all – partly because the pass rush didn’t help, and partly because the defensive backs weren’t good enough. That’s about to be fixed even with a whole slew of parts transferring out. Iowa State transfer Datrone Young will help the cause at one corner.

Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Duke Top 10 Players | Duke Schedule & Analysis

Duke Blue Devils: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

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