Duke Football Heading into Key Season for the Future of the Program


College Football finally returns this week, and Duke will kickoff their 2015-16 campaign at Tulane Thursday evening at 9:30 ET. The Blue Devils have varied expectations this season, with several preseason All-American and All-ACC selections but projected to finish near the middle of the ACC and also suffering several injuries to key players who will miss the season. The most important fact is that this will be a key season for the future of the Duke Football program and the direction it’s heading.

Duke Blue Devils
Duke Blue Devils /

Duke Blue Devils

Head coach David Cutcliffe has completely changed the perception of the Duke in NCAA Football, winning a total of 25 games in the last three seasons which includes 3 consecutive bowl game berths and an ACC Championship Game appearance. This will be a very important season that could make or break the future of the program, after the Blue Devils graduated the winningest class ever in school history.

The Blue Devils will have a ton of youth and inexperience this season, with the final depth chart for the Tulane game featuring 9 first-time starters (5 on offense and 4 on defense), most notably redshirt junior quarterback Thomas Sirk. Additionally, there are 5 true freshmen and 7 redshirt freshmen as primary back-ups to positions all over the field who will be competing for playing time throughout the season.

Another key factor for the season will be how well Duke can overcome injuries to key players from all over the field and how their replacements handle their new roles. The injury report for the first game is pretty long, and the Blue Devils will be without several key players for most or all of the season who were expected to make major contributions this season including LB Kelby Brown, RB Jela Duncan, CB Bryon Fields, and more. Players such as sophomores Zavier Carmichael and Alonzo Saxton II as well as 3rd string QB Nico Pierre who willingly switched to RB to add depth will be expected to make an impact this year.

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Lastly, David Cutcliffe has done a great job leading Duke to three consecutive bowl game appearances, each of them winnable games for the Blue Devils, but will Duke be able to take the next step forward as a program and win a bowl game? The 3 straight bowl games is a school record but the program hasn’t had a bowl game victory since the 1961 Cotton Bowl. This will help Duke continue to rise on the national stage in college football and hopefully the team will be able to keep winning while facing tougher non-conference opponents in the future.

Duke already has a stellar recruiting class set for the class of 2016, but the success of this year’s team will determine whether Cutcliffe can continue to recruit talented players for 2017, 2018, and beyond. The Blue Devils start this season on the road and will look to get off to a good start this year after winning 9 out of their last 10 away games. Make sure to check out Duke Football as they pursue their 4th consecutive postseason bowl game appearance and stay locked to Ball Durham for all of your Duke Football news.

Next: Duke Football Names 2015-16 Team Captains