Duke Football Team Grades So Far Through the Year


The Duke football team was on a bye this past weekend so there are no grades for this week obviously. But I decided to take a look at the season as a whole so far this year and give a grade for each of the three aspects of the team just like I would for a normal week. Duke is currently 5-1 on the season with their only loss coming to a then ranked Northwestern Wildcats. Duke has played so well that they have vaulted themselves into the top 25. Let’s give out some grades for the year so far.

Offense – B-

This has been the unit that has struggled the most so far. Consistency, turnovers, quarterback play. All of these things have contributed to an offense that is ranked 62nd overall in the country. QB Thomas Sirk along with the wide receiving core has been the biggest concern among all the units on the team. The big plays have been few and far between with the majority of Sirk’s passes being of the short variety. Sirk was exceptional against teams like Tulane, North Carolina Central and Army but underwhelming against Boston College, Northwestern and Georgia Tech. Whether it be Sirk’s limitations or the wide receivers inability to get open, the passing game must make strides toward improvement if Duke wants to win the Coastal division.

The running game has been slightly better with Shaquille Powell, Jela Duncan and Thomas Sirk all having moments. Duke ranks 52nd nationally with 180 yards a game on the ground. With the seemingly endless stable of runners in the backfield, Duke’s running game should only improve if the passing game can become more explosive.

Defense – A+

Simply put, this group has been unbelievable. The defense ranks 4th nationally in total defense. Carlos Wray has been a rock in the center of the defensive line. Zavier Carmichael has filled in tremendously for the injured Kelby Brown. The secondary? Whew, what a unit led by the leader for the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Jeremy Cash. There has been no weaknesses in any level of the defense with Duke tied with the University of Michigan for tops in scoring defense with 9.3 points per game.

One thing to look forward to the rest of the season is the defensive line and the amount of pressure they can bring against teams with better quarterbacks and offensive lines. In the first half of the year, Duke faced two triple option teams and no other teams with a solidly competent thrower of the football so the defensive line only generated 10 sacks. Watch as Duke gets farther into ACC play against the likes of Miami with QB Brad Kaaya, if the defensive line can generate enough pressure to throw more competent offenses off their game.

Special Teams – A-

K Ross Martin has been named Special Teams Player of the Week multiple times as he has not missed a kick yet on the year. P Will Monday has been stable which is all you can ask from your punter and DeVon Edwards has been a lightning bolt on kick returns. The only blemishes was when WR Ryan Smith muffed a punt during Duke’s loss to Northwestern and a Solomon Vault kickoff return for a TD during the same game. But two mistakes does not make a unit. Kicker, punter and returner are all tops in their positions in the ACC.

Duke has a terrific chance at playing in the ACC title game once again and it starts this week at Virginia Tech where the Hokies are coming off a loss handed to them by the Miami Hurricanes. Keep it here for all your Duke related news.