The Duke Blue Devils come in to 2014 after making their first appearance in the ACC Championship game in 2013. They return 5 starters from 2013 defense that was rated 62nd in the nation (F/+). The Blue Devils finished 2013 ranked 84th in Adjusted sack Rate while opponent offenses averaged over 400 yards per game. The bend but don't break philosophy consistently produced situations where the defense needed a big play and more often than not they made it. Duke produced 26 turnovers last season, good for fourth in the ACC.
2014 brings new challenges for the Blue Devils as they look to replace three defensive linemen and both outside corners in addition to breakout linebacker Kelby Brown (ACL - fall camp). The secondary will sorely miss all-ACC CB Ross Cockrell. Duke will look to some new faces to fill the gaps upfront but don't mistake new for inexperienced as the two-deep features 7 upperclassmen. There are question marks for sure, but the defense does not lack for maturity.
So far in 2014 Duke has line up against Elon (FCS) and Troy (F/+ 120) to somewhat pedestrian results (I would take pedestrian in Lawrence at this point). They have allowed 4.0 yards per rush and 6.0 yards per pass on the season while not giving up a single passing touchdown. The momentum changing play which served the Devils so well last year has just not been there this season. Through two games against lesser opponents Duke has not found a way to turn the ball over.
Duke returns their placekicker, punter and return specialists from the unit which was ranked 40th in F/+ last season. PK Ross martin has not missed a kick this season and punter Will Monday is averaging 41 yards per punt. Kick returner Devon Edwards is averaging 33 yards per return on the season.
WHO TO WATCH
In addition to returning kicks, Devon Edwards anchors the secondary. He is the leading tackler and has forced two unrecovered fumbles this season. DE Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo leads the team with two sacks and has the ability to disrupt the QB coming off of the edge, containing him on third and long will be paramount to Cozart's success. Duke's defense is *designed* to stop teams like Alabama and Florida State. Bringing an up-tempo offense may disrupt them just enough to be effective.
KU's OFFENSE VS. DUKE's DEFENSE
Just to reiterate these are non-garbage time goals which, if completed, I think will show that the offense has had at least a modicum of improvement.
- Offensive Efficiency - The Blue Devils have given up 4.8 yards per play to Elon and Troy. I would like to see the offense operate at a minimum of 5.5 yards/play before garbage time (275 yards on 50 plays, 330 yards on 60 plays, 385 yards on 70 plays).
- Turnovers - Against a Duke team that has struggled to turn the ball over, there should be no more than two turnovers in this contest.
- Redzone Efficiency - The offense executed very well inside the 20 last week which was a welcome sight. I think a 60% redzone touchdown efficiency is within reason.
REVIEW OF SEMO GOALS
Let's tke a look back at the goals from last week's game. Garbage time officially kicked in when KU recovered the final onside kick at 1:33 seconds remaining.
- Offensive Efficiency- 6.0 yards/play: 6.6 - Pass, Small victory for a team that only gained 5.6 yards per play against South Dakota last season.
- Turnovers - 2 turnovers: 0 - Pass, very surprised by this.
- Redzone Efficiency - 60% TD's: 75% - Pass, after last season, 3 TD's in 4 trips is a victory, I don't care who the opponent is.
I'll check back next week to review the goals for Duke and preview Central Michigan.