2011 ACC Blogger Football Preview – Coastal No. 6…Duke

Posted by Brandon Rink on July 23, 2011 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Duke's Donovan Varner leads the pass-happy Blue Devils' offense. (Pic per Independent Mail)

2010 Record: 3-9 (1-7 ACC)
2011 Projected Record: 4-8 (3-5)
Returning Starters: 16 (8 on offense, 6 on defense, both kickers).
Schedule Difficulty in ACC: Sixth.
Offense Rides On… Renfree cutting down on the turnovers – Duke is going to throw it around, but they have to take better care of the ball. The Blue Devils finished 112 nationally in turnover margin with Renfree’s 17 INTs leading the way (and several fumbles also).
Defensive Deficiency: Pick a unit – They’re probably strongest in the secondary, but they’ve struggled everywhere in recent years.
Keyword: Now? – Cutcliffe has promised a bowl seemingly every season he’s coached there, and come close once. He has his most talented offensive unit yet, but navigating a schedule with Stanford, FSU and Virginia Tech as the home game doesn’t make six wins look like a realistic goal.

Schedule Analysis + W/Ls

9/03 Richmond W 31-17
9/10 Stanford L 41-24
9/17 @ Boston College L 21-17
9/24 Tulane W 42-24
10/01 @ FIU L 28-27
10/08 Bye
10/15 FSU L 38-17
10/22 Wake Forest W 31-28
10/27 Virginia Tech L 31-17
11/5 @ Miami L 24-21
11/12 @ Virginia L 28-20
11/19 Georgia Tech W 31-28
11/26 @ UNC L 27-17

Bye Week: Before Florida State, October 15.
Toughest Game: Stanford, September 10.
Must-Win Conference Game: Wake Forest, October 22.

Stats and records…

Coach: David Cutcliffe (56-53 career record, fourth year as head coach at Duke).

Offense (2010 ranks): Pro-style (Total offense: 59th/Rush offense: 104th/Pass offense: 22nd)

Defense (2010 ranks): 4-3 (Total defense: 108th/Rush defense: 113th/Pass defense: 96th).

2010 Special Team Ranks: Net punting – 106th/Kickoff returns – 83rd/Punt returns – 62nd/Punt return yardage defense – 117th/Kick return yardage defense – 18th.

2010 Misc. stats: Turnover margin – 112th/Fewest penalties – 11th/First downs – 58th/First downs allowed – 96th/Third down efficiency – 60th/Red zone efficiency – 15th/Red zone defense – 80th/Time of possession – 83rd.

Outgoing starters: 8.

2011 Starters (2010 stats)

Returning Offense (8)

QB: Sean Renfree (Junior, 3,131 passing yards/61.4% cmp/14 TD-17 INT).
RB: Desmond Scott (Junior, 530 rushing yards/3 TDs/266 rec. yards).
WR: Donovan Varner (Senior, 736 rec. yards/1 TDs); Conner Vernon (Junior, 973 rec. yards/4 TDs).
TE: Cooper Helfet (Senior, 380 rec. yards/2 TDs).
O-line: LT Kyle Hill (Senior, 6-6 290/36 starts); RT Perry Simmons (Sophomore, 6-5 300/12 starts); C Brian Moore (Junior, 6-2 275/14 starts).

New Projected Starters (3)

WR: Brandon Braxton (Sophomore, 180 rec. yards/1 TD).
O-line: RG John Coleman (RS-Sophomore, 6-4 285)/Laken Tomlinson (RS-Freshman, 6-3 315); LG Dave Harding (RS-Sophomore, 6-4 285/4 starts).

Outlook: The Blue Devils are stacked on offense – in the passing game at least.

QB Sean Renfree only finished behind Russell Wilson and T.J. Yates in conference passing yards last season, but struggled with turnovers all season. Cutcliffe also works in sophomore Brandon Connette as a dual-threat QB – he rushed for eight TDs last season.

Whether it’s Renfree or Connette, they have the receivers to do damage with two All-ACC wide receivers in senior Donovan Varner and junior Conner Vernon. TE Cooper Helfet is a big target as well.

And then there’s the forgotten crew, the Duke RB, who act much like decoys and pass protect mostly in this offense. Junior Desmond Scott rushed for 530 yards last season with three TDs.

The offensive line has three starters back and underclassmen projected to start in the spots they’re replacing. Senior LT Kyle Hill has started every Duke game since his redshirt season.

Returning Defense (6)

D-line: DT Sydney Sarmiento (Sophomore, 26 tackles/1 TFL); NG Charlie Hatcher (Senior, 46 tackles/6.5 TFL/1 sack).
LB: MLB Kelby Brown (Sophomore, 63 tackles/4 TFL).
DB: CB Ross Cockrell (Sophomore, 60 tackles/1 INT); SS Lee Butler (Senior, 58 tackles/1 INT); FS Matt Daniels (Senior, 93 tackles/1 INT).

New Projected Starters (5)

D-line: DE Kenny Anunike (Junior, 23 tackles/1.5 TFL); DE Justin Foxx (Sophomore, 22 tackles/1 sack).
LB: WLB Austin Gamble (Junior, 27 tackles);
‘Devil’: August Campbell (Sophomore, 10 tackles/ 2 TFL/fumble TD return).
DB: CB Zach Greene (Junior, 9 tackles)/Johnny Williams (Senior. 9 tackles).

Outlook: This unit is on its third defensive coordinator in three seasons, and in need of major improvement to get out of the triple digits in total defense rankings nationally.

The secondary has the most experience back with three starters, including senior leader and free safety Matt Daniels.

The interior line of the Blue Devils is set with NG Charlie Hatcher and DT Sydney Sarmiento, but the ends are question marks with junior Kenny Anunike coming off an injury.

Second-leading tackler back Kelby Brown leads the Duke linebacker corps from MLB.

Projected Kicker/Punter (2)

PK: Will Snyderwine (Senior, 21-24 on FGs/13-16 from 30+ yards/long of 52).
P: Alex King (Senior, 41.1 yards per punt).

Outlook: Snyderwine is one of the better kickers in the ACC, while Alex King is ranked fifth among a strong class of returning punters in the conference.

Notable Backups (2010 stats)

QB: Brandon Connette (Sophomore, 321 rushing yards/8 TDs/125 passing yards/2 INTs).
RB: Josh Snead (Sophomore, 221 rushing yards/1 TD).

Position by Position Grades

QB: B+
MVP: Sean Renfree
Gotta Step-Up: Sean Renfree

RB: C+
MVP: Desmond Scott
Gotta Step-Up: Josh Snead

MVP: Donovan Varner
Gotta Step-Up: Conner Vernon

OL: C+
MVP: LT Kyle Hill
Gotta Step-Up: C Brian Moore

DL: C-
MVP: NG Charlie Hatcher
Gotta Step-Up: DE Kenny Anunike

MVP: MLB Kelby Brown
Gotta Step-Up: WLB Austin Gamble

Sec: C+
MVP: FS Matt Daniels
Gotta Step-Up: CB Ross Cockrell

K/P: A-
MVP: K Will Snyderwine
Gotta Step-Up: P Alex King

The Why…

Why Last?: 1) They still have to play defense – Duke needs to show me they can stop somebody – anybody.

2) Have you seen that schedule?!?! – Starting the conference slate at BC then hosting FSU and Virginia Tech in a three week span with Wake in the middle, and hitting the road in November for trips to Miami, Charlottesville and Chapel Hill. The ACC did Duke few favors on the schedule.

3) Virginia road trip the swing game – Duke’s ceiling, even in a successful 2011 season, is probably fourth in the Coastal, above Georgia Tech and Virginia. If Duke can beat those two, they should be able to get there, but I only have them taking one of those matchups.

Could be higher if…: Duke at least threatens with defense and the offense is a high-powered machine. Also, see above point.

2011 ACC Preview: Where does Duke finish in the Coastal?

  • 4th (40%, 2 Votes)
  • 6th (40%, 2 Votes)
  • 3rd (20%, 1 Votes)
  • 1st (0%, 0 Votes)
  • 2nd (0%, 0 Votes)
  • 5th (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 5

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