Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Projecting Duke: Devils improving each year under Cutcliffe

Duke is looking pretty good in football these days under Coach David Cutcliffe. The Devils got four wins two years ago and five wins last season. The big question: can Duke improve to six wins this year?

Well, they would have in the days of weak non-conference opponents but I foresee the Devils managing only five wins. While that only matches last season, in reality, it would be an even bigger achievement – considering the schedule and the loss of All-ACC quarterback Thaddeus Lewis.

If Duke could upset somebody like Carolina or Miami or Boston College, they could get to six wins. I’m thinking 5-7 is more probable, and if they are going to do that well, they have to get off to a quick start.

Here’s a game-by-game breakdown:

Sept. 4, Elon: Elon is a small school but they are good. A victory over Duke isn’t out of the question – think Appalachian over Michigan. Duke isn’t Michigan either. But Coach Cutcliffe should have them ready and won’t let them overlook Elon. Duke wins at home.

Sept. 11, at Wake Forest: This should be a good game but Wake is on the way down and Duke is on the way up. The Devils have a good field goal kicker for a change - Will Snyderwine is a member of the Groza Award watch list. Devils by a field goal.

Sept. 18, Alabama: It’ll be fun to see Alabama run out on the field in Durham. It won’t be much fun as they run off the field. Alabama.

Sept. 25, Army: Duke should have an easier time with Army than it did with Elon.

Oct. 2, at Maryland: This is a must win for Duke if they have any hopes of finishing .500 on the year. The Terps lost their last seven games last season but they should be better this year. They’ll expect to win this one against the Devils. They won’t. Duke’s players are more experienced and Sean Renfree should be settled in at quarterback by now. It’s starting to look like a special season as Duke stands at 4-1.

Oct. 16, Miami: The demise begins. The Hurricanes are a hard team to predict but my guess is they’ll be a good bit better than the Devils. Miami.

Oct. 23, at Virginia Tech: The Hokies by quite a few.

Oct. 30, at Navy: The Midshipmen are good. They like to run it right at you and they have virtually everybody back. Duke’s defense is probably weakest on the defensive line. Navy runs over the Devils in a ball-control, close contest.

Nov. 6, Virginia: This is the last time the Devils will be favored so they’d better win it at home.

Nov. 13, Boston College: Another winnable game but BC has 14 starters back from an 8-5 team and the Eagles could be battling Clemson for second in the division. Boston College.

Nov. 20, at Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech and Duke have comparable coaches but not comparable players or depth. By late in the season, the Devils lack of depth will hurt any chances they might have to upset someone. Ramblin' Wreck.

Nov. 27, North Carolina: This is always a wild, emotional game and it will mean even more than usual as the Devils could get to 6-6 with a victory and Carolina could be fighting for a good bowl. By this time all the NCAA investigation talk should be a distant memory for Carolina, which could have its best defense in years. Tar Heels.

That makes the season prediction 5-7.

If Duke could find some depth or either remain healthy throughout the season (which is almost impossible) and QB Renfree lives up to his potential and the defense holds its own, Duke could upset somebody and finish 6-6.

There is little room for error for Duke, plus Renfree, while good, is a year away from great. So Duke finishes 5-7.

1 comment:

  1. UNC player academic misconduct? Ok, so maybe the investigation won't be a distant memory when the Tar Heels play the Blue Devils in the last game of the year.
    That could be the upset game Duke needs to go 6-6. For now though, I'll stick with the 5-7 prediction.