2010 Record: 3-9 (1-7)
2011 Schedule – Picks
Sept. 3 – Richmond W 28-17
Sept. 10 – Stanford L 55-20
Sept. 17 – at Boston College L 21-3
Sept. 24 – Tulane W 28-24
Oct. 1 – at Florida International W 27-21
Oct. 15 – Florida State L 42-13
Oct. 22 – Wake Forest W 24-20
Oct. 29 – Virginia Tech L 38-14
Nov. 5 – at Miami L 38-6
Nov. 12 – at Virginia L 28-10
Nov. 19 – Georgia Tech L 27-17
Nov. 26 – at North Carolina L 31-14
Key Conference Game: Wake Forest- I have the Blue Devils scoring their only ACC victory against the Demon Deacons. It’s the Battle for 11th Place!
Toughest Game: Stanford- Thinks could get ugly when the atrocious Duke defense faces Andrew Luck and the Cardinal.
The Blue Devils return quarterback Sean Renfree, who was wild at times, but showed he could hold his own in the ACC. Duke returns their center Brian Moore, and both tackles Kyle Hill and Perry Simmons on the offensive line. The Blue Devils also return their three most productive skill position players, running back Desmond Scott and wide receivers Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner. Duke gets a little too pass-happy sometimes, but I think with the development of Renfree, the Blue Devil offense will be relatively productive in 2011.
Donovan Varner/Conner Vernon- Varner was an All-ACC first team selection in 2009, where he racked up 1,047 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Luckily for the Blue Devils, when defenses paid more attention to him in 2010, Conner Vernon was able to step up. The 2010 All-ACC second team selection recorded 973 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. This duo should be excellent for Duke in 2011.
Must Step Up:
Sean Renfree- Renfree was productive in the passing game in 2010, throwing for 3,131 yards and completing 61% of his passes. However, Renfree was also turnover prone throwing 17 interceptions to his 14 touchdown passes. Duke loves to throw the ball, so their success in 2011 should depend almost completely on the play of Renfree.
Duke’s defense was ranked 113 in rushing defense, 109 in scoring defense, and 108 in passing defense and total defense. Ouch. The good news for the Blue Devils is that those numbers can really only up. The Blue Devils return safety Matt Daniels, who recorded 93 tackles in 2010. Middle linebacker Kelby Brown and nose guard Charlie Hatcher are other productive players who return for 2011.
Matt Daniels- Daniels was one of the bright spots for Duke’s defense last season, where he punished receivers and running backs in the middle of the field. In addition to his 93 tackles, Daniels also recorded 6 tackles for loss and forced 3 fumbles. The senior leader will be one player defensive coordinator Jim Knowles won’t have to worry much about.
Must Step Up:
Kelby Brown- Brown had knee surgery this off-season, so he’ll have limited practice time to get ready for 2010. With such a weak group of linebackers, Brown has to become a leader both on the field and in the locker room. If Brown can play well this season, he can help the Duke defense tremendously.
Kicker Will Snyderwine hit all 32 extra point attempts and made 21 of 24 field goals in 2010. A junior, Snyderwine should be even better in 2011 after two years of experience. The reliable Alex King returns as the starting punter.
Will Snyderwine- Snyderwine was excellent in 2010, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be even better in 2011.
Must Step Up:
Season Outlook: 4-8 (1-7)
It looks like we’re going to see another rebuilding season in Durham, but there will be some bright spots in 2011. Quarterback Sean Renfree should be excellent this season, and I expect him to breakout in 2012. However, the Duke defense will weight them down to the bottom of the ACC this season. If Duke is going to get to a bowl game in the Cutcliffe era, the defense will need to improve.