The Duke Blue Devils are trying to maintain the momentum of their most successful season in school history this fall after winning 10 games and clinching the ACC Coastal Division title in 2013. That challenge is getting more daunting, it seems, the nearer we get to kickoff as Duke suffered the loss of yet another starter this week. This time, they lost tight end Braxton Deaver to a torn ACL which will have a major impact on the Blue Devils’ offensive attack in 2014.
Deaver was a big part of the Duke offense in 2013, finishing second on the team with 46 receptions for 600 yards and four touchdowns. Only Jamison Crowder was more productive in the passing game last season and that production earned Deaver third-team All-ACC honors last year. This season, he was expected to once again be a pivotal piece of the offense for head coach David Cutcliffe as the Blue Devils attempted to defend their division crown and was named to the John Mackey Award preseason watch list.
Without Deaver in the middle, Duke loses a major weapon that helped open up the field for Crowder and took some of the pressure off the All-ACC receiver to keep the offense on track. Junior David Reeves would appear to be the next man up with Deaver sidelined after the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder caught just three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown during his sophomore season. Look for Reeves to enjoy a major boost in his production, even better than his freshman season when he had 18 receptions for 122 yards and three touchdowns.
The injury to Deaver is just another obstacle in Duke’s path to becoming a consistent winner in the ACC. Can they overcome this loss to their offense and defend their division title in 2014?