THE OFFENSE: It looks like JUCO transfer Tyler Lorenzen will be the new man at QB. D.J. Hernandez will shift positions a little and play more WR. Randy Edsall should really be hoping that this move works out because the passing offense ranked 110th in the country. If not, UConn better be looking for some kind of loophole for Dan Orlovsky to come back. Donald Brown can't do this by himself. Speaking of that talented sophomore running back, Donald Brown is prepared for a breakout year. Last year was nothing. He impressed people in the opener against Rhode Island, but he didn't become the starter until later in the year. He ran all over Rutgers on that Sunday night game. He displayed his ability to all of the country that night and I'm a huge fan. This guy is an awesome runner. If the passing game can improve, it might not be to the level of West Virginia or Louisville, but the offense could get more explosive. That's easier said than done, though.
THE DEFENSE: Really needs some work. The pass defense was really good though. They got bowled over up front however surrendering about 180 yards of rushing. That's not going to work playing West Virginia (run first), Louisville (talented rushing attack), Rutgers (running is all they do), and Pitt (now that Palko is gone, Stephens-Howling is the focus of the offense). The Big East has some really good running games and they're not going to be able to win if they can't make things better up front. Losing Rhema Fuller was one of the worst things that could happen to this defense. The good news is, Danny Lansanah and Ryan Henegan are back at linebacker and the secondary returns most of their key parts.
THE OUTLOOK: I think UConn will get a little better from last season's 4-8 mark. They have new life at the QB position which was really their Achille's Heel last season. Donald Brown, with a year under his belt, will be a better running back. The defense still needs to shore up that line. One of UConn's issues is that they always suffer from one WTF loss. Last year, it was against Syracuse. This year, it could be that game against Duke or Akron. They must avoid that or they pretty much eliminate their hopes of bowling. They MUST take advantage of the soft OOC schedule.
BOWL GAME?: International Bowl
Duke was really, really, really bad last year. You could tell that one from the get-go. They opened the season being shutout by Richmond, 12-0.....Yikes! Is there a shred of optimism buzzing around the Duke football team? Actually, there just might be.....
THE OFFENSE: The offense is led by QB Thaddeus Lewis. He was probably their most talented offensive player last season. He at least had the ability to make plays, something that Duke's offense hasn't done in..............a while, let's just leave it at that. Here's the thing about Duke though: Duke returns their entire two deep offense! Yes, it's true. Duke's offensive lineman are all veterans and should become instantly better. Thaddeus Lewis has some targets in Eron Riley and Jomar Wright. Duke's running backs situation is a bit of a quagmire, but it should be a little bit better this year.
THE DEFENSE: We can't go through a preview about Duke without mentioning something negative, unfortunately. The defense seems like it has some gaping holes. Casey Comero is gone and I thought he was their second best defensive player last year behind CB John Talley, also gone. They gave up about 400 yards last year and about 34 ppg. With a defense that loses some of their best players, it doesn't sound like everything is all good in Durham.
Sept. 1 Connecticut
Sept. 8 at Virginia
Sept. 15 at Northwestern
Sept. 22 at Navy
Sept. 29 at Miami
Oct. 6 Wake Forest
Oct. 13 Virginia Tech
Oct. 27 at Florida State
Nov. 3 Clemson
Nov. 10 Georgia Tech
Nov. 17 at Notre Dame
Nov. 24 at North Carolina
For a Duke team that could actually contend for a bowl game if they had a sinch of a schedule, this probably won't do the trick. I actually think the game against UConn is a tossup because like I said earlier, UConn suffers from WTF-loss syndrome. It bites them about once a year. That could be the game. They also have to go @ Northwestern, @ Navy, and @ Notre Dame, so Duke fans, kiss your slim-chance-of-a-bowl game hopes goodbye.
Don't Even Think About It: @ Navy, @ Miami, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, @ Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, @ Notre Dame
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: UConn, @ Northwestern, @ Virginia, @ North Carolina
Good/Probable Shot At It:
THE OUTLOOK: I look for Duke to improve............A LOT. At least compared to last year. The amount of guys back on offense is staggering and even though they were horrible on that side of the ball last year, averaging 15 points a game, look for that to increase by about 3 or 4 ppg. I really mean that. Thaddeus Lewis played pretty solid for a QB that didn't have much offensive line help and considering the fact that he was a freshman last year, his performance was not bad. The problem with Duke is the defense. It's going to have to get a lot better if they want to accomplish what they want to do. They will be the ACC's surprise team this year. Of the magnitude of Wake Forest? Uh, no! But don't be surprised if they win 3 games. I think fans that aren't really paying much attention to Duke this offseason would be surprised by that.
BOWL GAME?: Nope.