2009 Duke Blue Devils Football Preview
2008 Record: (4-8, 1-7)
2008 Bowl: none
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Luke
Defensive Coordinator: Marion Hobby
Returning Leaders for the Blue Devils:
Other Key Returnees: G Kyle Hill, TE Brett Huffman, P Kevin Jones, K Nick Maggio, C Bryan Morgan, DE Ayanga Okpokowuruk
Key Losses: DE Greg Akinbiyi, S Adrian Aye-Darko, OT Cameron Goldberg, RB Clifford Harris, LB Marcus Jones, DT Clifford Respress, WR Eron Riley, OT Fred Roland, LB Michael Tauiliili, CB Glenn Williams
Four wins does not sound very impressive. And since two of those victories were against James Madison and Navy, it makes it sound even worse. However, over the previous four seasons, Duke has won just four games. And then David Cutcliffe shows up and wins that many games in just one season. For the Blue Devils, that is a huge step forward and the suddenly the folks in Durham have good reason to look forward to football season.
To many, defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase would have been a first day selection if he had opted to enter the NFL Draft. Duke’s rush defense was pretty bad last year, but having a player like Oghobaase in the middle of the line will definitely be helpful. Thaddeus Lewis might not be the best known quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but he is a quality, experienced signal caller. The 6-2 senior threw for 2,171 yards and 15 touchdowns last year and could be in for a big season. However, he lost his favorite target in Eron Riley. Riley caught 61 passes and nobody else on the team caught more than 30. Yet, despite that loss, the Blue Devils have a handful of capable receivers. Johnny Williams should be the main target, but Donovan Varner, Austin Kelly and Sheldon Bell have some experience and will help soften the loss of Riley. Tight end Brett Huffman is not a bad option either.
The offensive line has always been a problem for Duke and now they have to move on without three starters. Center Bryan Morgan and guard Kyle Hill are a good duo to build around, but Coach Cutcliffe has to find a handful of quality linemen if this unit is going to turn into anything good. If the line continues its usual dire ways, the running game is in trouble. Jay Hollingsworth is back after rushing for a team high 399 yards, but one of the worst ground games in the nation will not get any better because of Hollingsworth’s experience. It will only get better if the offensive line actually creates some gaps.
The Bottom Line for the Blue Devils:
Oghobaase is not the only quality defender back on the Duke sidelines. Linebacker Vincent Rey tallied 109 tackles on the season and will have to anchor the middle of the Blue Devils defense. If those two can help stop the run, the Duke defense will be better than it was last year. However, that is probably not going to be good enough to win six games and go to a bowl. The Blue Devils have not been to a bowl since 1994 and, even in an ACC where there are a lot of winnable games, this will probably not be the year in which that streak ends.
By Joel Welser
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