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It’s Fall in Durham, NC and football season is about to start. But the talk in the coffee shops and local watering holes are about Coach K’s retirement and what are Duke’s prospects for the upcoming basketball team. Such is life as a football player and football coach at Duke. Still, at the beginning of this decade Coach David Cutcliffe was able to win some games and make the Blue Devils a force to be reckoned with. He has a record of 74-88 in 13 years in Durham and that is including a 2-9 debacle from last year. He is a brilliant offensive coach and when he has a QB his teams are not to be overlooked. Is there a QB on the roster for 2021?
Offense: The QB situation is unsettled at best. Gunnar Holmberg emerged in the spring as the starter and quickly gained understanding in the finer points of Cutcliffe’s system. RB, Mataeo Durant rushed for 817 yards and scored 8 touchdowns. The offensive line returns 3 starters and there is talent in the receiving room. The offense has a chance to be ok.
Defense: This is a major sore spot for the Devils. After giving up 38.1 points per game last year, there is room for improvement across the board. The defensive line is a mess and the secondary was torched often last year. The CB’s are a strength led by Leonard Johnson and Jeremiah Lewis and LB’s Shaka Hayward and Rocky Shelton are both back to add stability.
9/4 at Charlotte
9/11 North Carolina A&T
The non-con schedule is reasonable and all 4 games can be victories. The opener at Charlotte is one of those difference makers as far as the overall record for the season. In other words, Duke better win that one. A&T is a must of course and so is the home game against Kansas which needs to bring their basketball team with them for a scrimmage with the Blue Devils’ basketball team after the football game. The Northwestern game is winnable but not probable.
10/2 at North Carolina
10/9 Georgia Tech
10/16 at Virginia
10/30 at Wake Forest
11/13 at Virginia Tech
Looking at the conference schedule there are winnable home games against Georgia Tech, Louisville, and Pittsburgh. Miami is a stretch. Road games at North Carolina and Virginia Tech are probably not going to happen, but Duke has a chance at Virginia and Wake Forest.
Summary: The QB has to emerge and develop into a playmaker and the defense has to take major strides for Duke to have a winning season and get back to a bowl game. The schedule is not that difficult and if they can pull off an upset they might move up some.
Predicted Finish: 7th Place in the Coastal Division
Overall Record: 4-8
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