Duke soccer preview 2019: We don’t communicate sufficient about this development


Invoice C’s annual preview sequence of each FBS crew in faculty soccer continues. Catch up right here!

At both the toughest or second-hardest task within the ACC (relying on how you’re feeling about Wake Wooded area), David Cutcliffe has been innovative.


The 64-year outdated Bama grad and SEC lifer took a late-career proper flip when he moved to Durham 11 years in the past. In need of to easily be a head trainer yet another time (he spent seven years in that position at Ole Omit), he took on a task that few would have sought after.

Duke had averaged simply 1.Four wins in keeping with 12 months for its earlier two head coaches. Cutcliffe just about tripled that reasonable over his first 4 seasons (3.Eight in keeping with 12 months) and has just about doubled it once more since (7.Four in his ultimate seven).

The Blue Devils received the 2013 ACC Coastal crown, they’ve bowled six occasions in seven seasons, they’ve been ranked in portions of 4 seasons, and after successful 3 bowls ever pre-Cutcliffe, they’ve received 3 within the ultimate 3 years. They’ve misplaced a success QBs and a variety of assistants, and whilst they’ve nonetheless had americaand no less than one specific down (4-Eight in 2016), this system has remained wholesome. And in April, they produced any other milestone: quarterback Daniel Jones turned into this system’s first top-10 draft select since 1987.

You don’t produce such not likely balance via depending on unmarried gamers, even on the quarterback place. In truth, Cutcliffe has virtually succeeded in spite of his QBs. The following time a Duke passer produces even a 140 passer ranking over a complete season beneath Cutcliffe would be the first.

NFL: NFL Draft

David Cutcliffe
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports activities

Jones’ time as beginning quarterback used to be attention-grabbing, for causes sure and detrimental.

  • In 2016, as a freshman, Jones torched NC Central and 4-Eight Notre Dame and seemed forged later within the 12 months towards eight-win UNC and nine-win Louisville and Miami. He additionally threw 5 interceptions towards two-win Virginia.
  • In 2017, he used to be nice to start out the season (146.7 passer ranking towards NC Central and 10-win Northwestern), forged to finish it (135.Four within the ultimate 3 video games), and most commonly terrible in between (93.6 within the center 8 video games).
  • In 2018, he once more began like gangbusters (23-for-39 for 389 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no selections in wins over 11-win Military and Giant Ten West champ Northwestern), randomly destroyed Pitt in the course of the 12 months, did an excellent Lamar Jackson impact towards UNC, and torched Temple within the Independence Bowl. And he performed like rubbish for lots of the different six video games (102.1 passer ranking).

Jones by no means in reality established any degree of consistency, and Duke’s upward thrust to 52nd in Off. S&P+ in 2018 looked as if it would have as a lot to do with the unearthing of a extra explosive run sport as with every large growth with the move. It used to be baffling to me that he used to be being regarded as a first-round prospect with numbers that crowned virtually no person’s, and I used to be, to mention the least, now not keen on the Giants selecting him 6th.

However that’s the Giants’ downside now. And if Duke has an issue in Jones’ absence, it sounds as if it received’t be particularly on account of Jones — it’ll be on account of large turnover within the receiving corps, as smartly. You’re going to have a brand new beginning QB throwing passes to a suite of latest wideouts. Realizing how total attrition within the passing sport has a tendency to negatively impact your Off. S&P+ ranking, that may well be somewhat daunting.

However once more, Cutcliffe didn’t get right here via leaning on an excellent passing sport, and that didn’t alternate with Jones.

Outdoor of the passing sport, the continuity is just right. The run sport returns its peak 4 backs and 6 linemen with beginning enjoy. And whilst two dynamite linebackers are long gone (Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys), the defensive position returns intact, and the secondary may just change one misplaced starter (nook Brandon Feamster) with a 2017 starter who ignored ultimate season (Mark Gilbert). The Duke protection has graded out higher than the offense for 5 directly years, and if it reveals a move rush, this may well be one in every of Cutcliffe’s highest but.


Jones’ largest energy may had been that he used to be aces on third-and-medium. Regardless of a propensity for detrimental performs (89th in stuff price, 55th in sack price), Duke used to be in a position to catch again as much as the chains and create semi-manageable 0.33 downs, and on third-and-Four to third-and-6, Jones produced a 194.2 passer ranking (15-for-26 for 226 yards and 5 touchdowns). That is the place his athletic talent shined, too — he ran for 6 extra first downs in those scenarios.

Granted, that fell to 99.6 past six yards, and granted, he used to be 3-for-Eight with two selections on fourth down, but when you might want to create third-and-manageable, Jones used to be in a position to take it from there. And there’s no be sure that the following man, with new receivers, will do this as smartly.

NCAA Football: Duke at Pittsburgh

Quentin Harris
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports activities

So who will the following man be? Odds are just right that it’s Quentin Harris, a senior who has very a lot waited his flip. Over portions of 3 seasons, has finished 41 of 81 passes for 510 yards, 8 interceptions, and one select. When Jones ignored two video games with a September 2018 shoulder damage, Harris threw for a blended 376 yards and 6 touchdowns, threw no selections, took no sacks, and rushed for 146 yards. Duke beat Baylor and NC Central with relative ease.

Harris must hang off sophomore Chris Katrenick and redshirt freshman Gunnar Holmberg in fall camp, and because he’s more likely to run the ball much more than Jones, he’ll must steer clear of some put on and tear. However he’s certified for the task.

We’ll see what his receiving corps provides him. The “main receivers” phase of this preview is extraordinarily skinny:

  • Jake Bobo, a 6’Four sophomore, stuck 10 of 14 passes for 167 yards and a landing ultimate 12 months. He appears the section, and he it appears that evidently advanced a pleasant rapport with Harris this spring. Nonetheless, he’s the main returning wideout from ultimate 12 months. With 10 catches.
  • Aaron Younger, a 6’2 senior, stuck 16 passes in 2017 and started 2018 with 4 catches for 114 yards towards Military. However he performed in just one extra sport, fighting hamstring problems all the means. He in brief regarded as shifting within the offseason, however it sounds as if he’s again.
  • Tight finish Noah Grey is a possible high-efficiency weapon: he stuck 20 of 24 passes with a 71 p.c luck price in backing up departed starter Daniel Helm.
  • Sophomore Damond Philyaw-Johnson stuck six passes, junior and previous four-star prospect (and loyal battler of wonky hamstrings) Scott Bracey stuck 3, and redshirt freshman Jarett Garner noticed some motion. Cutcliffe signed 4 mid- to high-three-star newcomers as smartly.

That’s now not terrible. However continuity has a tendency to subject a ton right here, and there’s nonetheless little or no of it.

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Duke

Deon Jackson
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports activities

The operating backs may just play a task within the passing sport, too. Junior Deon Jackson stuck 26 passes for 253 yards to move at the side of his 847 dashing yards. He used to be somewhat all-or-nothing within the backfield (right here’s your reminder of Duke’s dangerous stuff price), and he’s joined via a few steadier, and a long way much less explosive, choices in junior Brittain Brown and sophomore Marvin Hubbard III. A junior-heavy line, with six gamers combining for 60 profession begins, may just both hang secure or toughen somewhat.

Underneath coordinator Zac Roper’s steerage, Duke threw repeatedly when forward of the chains ultimate 12 months; the Blue Devils ran simply 49 p.c of the time on same old downs, 11 proportion issues not up to the nationwide reasonable. Harris will shift that stability, however the high quality of the receiving corps may decide simply how a lot of a shift we’re speaking about right here.


As a result of Cutcliffe is The Man Who Coached The Mannings In Faculty, we generally tend to consider Duke as an offense-first program. That’s unfair to a occasionally sensible protection that has needed to lift a variety of the burden over time.

Underneath coordinator Jim Knowles, the Blue Devils flipped to an efficiency-first manner a couple of years in the past, apparently consciously risking giant performs for a gentle circulate of three-and-outs and turnover alternatives. There have been certainly some gashes, however the effects have been transparent: from 104th in Def. S&P+ in 2012, Duke progressed to 70th in 2013, 31st in 2015, and 20th in 2017.

Cutcliffe misplaced Knowles to Oklahoma State ultimate 12 months, however in spite of having to play a ton of newcomers and sophomores (in all, 13 made no less than 11 tackles), new co-coordinators Ben Albert and Matt Guerrieri have been in a position to stay the protection enjoying a top-50 degree (46th).

NCAA Football: Independence Bowl-Temple vs Duke

Victor Dimukeje (51)
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports activities

Giles-Harris and Humphreys have been forged anchors and quarterback sorts at linebacker, however the back and front of the protection are skilled sufficient this 12 months that possibly that affect isn’t as essential.

For starters, the protection corps is loaded. Final 12 months’s peak 4 go back, together with junior Marquis Waters (possibly Duke’s highest all-around defender) and sophomores Leonard Johnson and Lummie Younger IV, either one of whom thrived close to the road of scrimmage (blended: 10 tackles for loss to just 4 passes defensed).

If Gilbert returns to complete well being, the cornerbacks may well be robust, too. An All-ACC select with 20 passes defensed in 2017, Gilbert suffered a peculiar dislocated hip early ultimate fall and ignored the spring as smartly. With out him, younger corners Michael Carter II and Josh Blackwell must step up.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Duke

Mark Gilbert (28)
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports activities

Up entrance, there’s large possible on the take on place. Giant Trevon McSwain and Derrick Tangelo are again, and senior Edgar Cerenord returns after a 2018 Achilles damage. Sophomore Ben Frye is usually a primary play-maker — he had 3.Five TFLs amongst his 4 tackles ultimate season — if he can go back to complete energy from a knee damage.

The Blue Devils have been determined, then again, for a move rush that by no means in reality materialized ultimate 12 months. They have been 129th in passing downs sack price, and it says so much in regards to the secondary that they have been nonetheless in a position to rank 20th in finishing touch price. Junior Victor Dimukeje and sophomore Chris Rumph II are your returning “leaders” on this space, having blended for six.Five sacks ultimate 12 months. Duke can nonetheless box a reliable D with out a move rush, however a go back to the top-20 or top-30 will likely be inconceivable with out growth right here.

Particular Groups

Duke received kickoffs ultimate 12 months. Kicker Jack Driggers had an 89 p.c luck price and allowed simply an 18.3-yard go back reasonable, which implies nice peak and site, and Deon Jackson is a gentle go back guy.

The remainder of Duke’s particular groups unit lacked. The Blue Devils completed 87th in Particular Groups S&P+, basically on account of Collin Wareham’s restricted vary; he ignored two PATs and went 0-for-Three on longer box targets. He’s long gone, however there’s no ensure his substitute will do higher.

2019 outlook

2019 Agenda & Projection Components

DateOpponentProj. S&P+ RkProj. MarginWin Likelihood
31-Aug vs. Alabama 1 -32.5 3%
7-Sep NC A&T NR 27.0 94%
14-Sep at Center Tennessee 104 9.7 71%
27-Sep at Virginia Tech 30 -10.2 28%
5-Oct Pittsburgh 59 1.6 54%
12-Oct Georgia Tech 89 8.9 70%
19-Oct at Virginia 41 -7.5 33%
26-Oct at North Carolina 61 -2.8 44%
9-Nov Notre Dame 12 -13.7 21%
16-Nov Syracuse 56 0.8 52%
23-Nov at Wake Wooded area 62 -2.7 44%
30-Nov Miami 19 -8.5 31%

It’s superb to step again and notice we’re speaking about balance and bowling and top-10 selections in a Duke soccer preview. After I started this preview sequence again in 2011, I used to be speaking about 3-Nine seasons as an indication of development. And now we’re speaking about 5 wins as a conceivable setback.

The first step towards thriving in a post-Jones universe: live to tell the tale Week 1. Duke inexplicably performs Alabama within the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Sport to start out the 12 months, and whilst we’ll be informed a couple of issues in regards to the protection’s capacity, it’s not likely Duke will transfer the ball.

The Blue Devils are liked in 4 of 5 video games post-Bama, despite the fact that, and it’s crucial to their bowl hopes that they win the ones winnable video games. Another way, getting to 6 wins will likely be difficult.

In fact, Cutcliffe has proven that he can climate temporary setbacks. Duke did pass 4-Eight in Jones’ first 12 months as starter, in any case. Quarterback apart, this will likely be a sophomore- and junior-heavy crew. Bowling once more could be a pleasant bonus, however the principle purpose is discovering solutions for any other great run in 2020 and past.

Workforce preview stats

All 2019 preview knowledge to this point.

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