2015 Duke Football Predictions: T-5th ACC Coastal (2014 record: 9-4)
Head Coach: David Cutcliffe
ACC Champion Odds: +700
National Championship Odds: +50,000
Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 7 (-150), Under 7 (+110)
It took Coach Cutcliffe 7 seasons, but he finally put a football product on the field of which he could be very proud. They didn’t do it with mirrors, luck or deception, they did it by playing good solid football on both sides of the ball. The 2014 offensive unit put up decent numbers with almost 400 YPG of total offense that led to them scoring just over 32 PPG with only 15 turnovers. Compared to other teams in the past, that was a very good offensive performance for the Duke Blue Devils.
If they have any designs on repeating their fine 2014 performance in 2015, they are going to have to do it with a new group of players due to graduation. Gone from last year’s squad are starting QB Anthony Boone (2,700 yards passing, 19 TDs) and leading receiver Jamison Crowder (85 receptions, 1,044 yards, 6 TDs). That bad news is somewhat offset by the return of the team’s two best running backs in SR Shaquille Powell (622 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and SO Shaun Wilson (604 yards rushing and 5 TDs). At this point in time, it is not clear who will take the reins at quarterback. The logical choice would be RS JR Thomas Sirk. However, he only threw 14 passes last season and it remains to be seen if he is ready to takeover the job as starter.
After being a doormat for so many years, many football fans enjoyed seeing Duke playing at a higher level than before. The offense has a lot of holes to fill by Coach Cutcliffe, but maybe the coach has finally turned the program around and his recruiting efforts will bear fruit.
Of all the numbers Duke put up last year, the most shocking number came from the defensive unit that limited opponents to just under 22 PPG despite allowing almost 400 YPG of total offense. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason(s) for the turnaround, but improved discipline and the ability to cause timely turnovers would certainly rank towards the top of the list.
With 7 returning starters, Duke’s defense figures to be on par with the 2014 version. Gone from the mix are leading tackler David Helton (134 tackles and 1.5 sacks) and leading front lineman Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo who had 4.5 sacks to go along with 45 tackles. Fortunately for the Blue Devils and Coach Cutcliffe, the cupboard is far from empty with the return of two players who registered great numbers last season. They are JR safety DeVon Edwards who had 133 tackles with 4.5 sacks and 1 interception and SR safety Jeremy Cash who added 111 tackles with a team-leading 5.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. With the amount of talent the Blue Devils have returning on this side of the ball, there is no reason to expect much of a decrease in output from this unit.
Here’s to hoping Duke has another fine season. Realistically, there are a lot of key positions that need to be filled and that doesn’t bode well for a repeat performance. As long as Duke fans and boosters keep their expectations reasonable, a weak schedule might be enough to land this team back in the post-season.
This is a solid team, coached by a very good football coach. Duke is really starting to make a name for themselves on the gridiron. They have a manageable schedule and will get to their 4th straight bowl game. 7-8 wins looks like what this team will get to this season.