2019 Duke Football Season Preview
For a team that won eight games but lost a bulk of their starting lineup, there is room for optimism this year for Duke football.
2018 Record: 8-5 overall, 3-5 in ACC
Head Coach: David Cutcliffe, 12th year, 67-72
Daniel Jones was taken sixth overall in the NFL Draft, but Quentin Harris filled in well when Jones went down last season. As a redshirt junior he tossed seven touchdowns to only one interception and spent another offseason learning under the guru David Cutcliffe, so they should be alright at the signal caller position.
Running back will be their strong suit as the Blue Devils possess a solid 1-2 punch with Deon Jackson and Brittain Brown, two backs who can both shoulder the load. They have a decent offensive line to run behind as they return three starters–but they will not be considered elite by any means.
Wide receiver is the question mark and ultimately will decide how successful the offense is. Gone are TJ Rahming and Johnathan Lloyd who combined for 126 catches and 13 scores–and the top returning wideout is sophomore Jake Bobo, who has 10 receptions and 167 yards in his career. With no real experience to bank on, Bobo and company will need to play above their talent level in the ACC this season.
A unit that was mediocre last season should take a step forward in 2019–they return eight starters and will have one of the best secondaries in the conference.
Key stat: When the defense allowed 27 points or fewer last season, Duke was 7-0. When it allowed 27 or more, it was 1-5.
Cornerback Mark Gilbert had seven interceptions two seasons ago and returns with safety Dylan Singleton who missed most of last season with a broken ankle. Now that those two are healthy, they will combine with Marquis Waters and Leonard Johnson to form an elite unit.
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.
The linebacking core isn’t full of talent after losing Joe Giles-Harris, but returns Brandon Hill and Koby Quansah, two upperclassmen.
The Blue Devil quarterback situation is in good hands with Quentin Harris taking over for Daniel Jones, but the offense is going to have to rely on the running game. If Duke can successfully run the football, they can control the time of possession and win ball games–especially with the wide receiver group lacking any semblance of experience.
Defensively, returning all four starters up front is great despite their overall lack of talent. However, the team is talented in the secondary and can really impact the game if the defensive backs can force turnovers.
Duke will never be the most talented team in the ACC, but wins because they are disciplined and well-coached. Despite the inexperience in multiple areas, this team should make it back to a bowl game for the seventh time in the last eight years.