Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Duke needs an opening win (and a ground game)

Duke finished 5-7 last year, and if you look back, the loss that really crippled the season was the opener. The Blue Devils lost at home, 24-16, to a Richmond team en route to a big year in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Duke needed some early wins to help survive a tough ending stretch, and in fact the Devils lost five straight to conclude the season.

This year, the Devils open at home Saturday night with  a 7 p.m. game with Elon. While that might sound like a gift, Elon was 9-3 last season and is ranked No. 7 in the FCS.

Duke, by the way, released a depth chart Tuesday at its news conference. There's real talent on offense, with nine starters back and sophomore Sean Renfree expected to fill in capably at quarterback now that Thad Lewis is gone. He's got experienced receivers in senior tight end Brett Huffman and receivers Donovan Varner, Conner Vernon and Austin Kelly.

The running game has to improve. Part of the reason Lewis threw so much last season was he had to. Desmond Scott led the team in rushing with a paltry 29.1 yards per game. Duke's 63.5 yards rushing per game was, well, pretty lame. Even worse - the team averaged 2.2 yards per rush.

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