The city of Durham, NC is known for being the home of the Duke Blue Devils and they are known for having one of the best programs in a particular sport in the history of ever. That sport isn’t football.
It is a well-known fact that Duke hasn’t won a bowl game since the 1961 Cotton Bowl when they beat the Arkansas Razorbacks 7-6. Their 2012 Belk Bowl appearance was the first time the Blue Devils had been bowling since 1995, and while they played admirably they yet again came up short of that elusive bowl win. Could 2013 be the year they final break through and snag the post-season W? I think so.
QB Sean Renfree as well as one of Duke’s two 1000+ yard receivers, Conner Vernon, are graduating and won’t be around to help the Blue Devils out, but all is not immediately lost for Duke Football.
QB Anthony Boone will be a junior and in the two games where he took more than one or two snaps in 2012 he looked pretty good. He was 13-21 for 147 yards against the Stanford Cardinals and 18-31 for 212 and four TDs against the Virginia Cavilers.
Boone will have WR Jamison Crowder, who tallied 1074 yards and eight TDs in 2012, as well as TE Issac Blakeney to toss the ball to. Third string RB Juwan Thompson is also a threat in the passing game. Duke actually had the 31st best passing attack in terms of yards per game in 2012, but they need to add balance to their attack in order to see their win total grow.
The Blue Devils will have all three of their top rushers back in 2013. Jela Duncan, Josh Snead and the aforementioned Thompson combined for 1401 yards and seven TDs last season. Duke either needs to find a go to guy and stick with him in the run game or find a way to make the three man rotation yield more results.
The defense in 2012 was horrific. Duke gave up an average of 36 points per game last season, which ranked them at 110th in the FBS. The good news is that Duke is returning most of their defensive starters for 2013 so that unit will be a year older and wiser, which hopefully translates to them being better.
Schedule wise, Duke has to play through the hit-and-miss ACC. The road game against the Virginia Tech Hokies will be tough, but they can at least rest easy knowing they won’t face either the Florida State Seminoles or the Clemson Tigers. Missing out on those two will make getting bowl eligible a lot easier.
I’m not saying Duke is going to rack up eight or nine wins or come close to competing for the ACC title in 2013. I do, however, think they will be able to manage six or seven and make it to a low level bowl game where they can grab a win and get the monkey off their back.