Here are three things Duke Football fans should be on the lookout for in the Blue Devils’ season opener today against crosstown-foe North Carolina Central.
Duke Football will kick off their football season in a home match-up against North Carolina Central University. Here are the top three things Blue Devil fans should be on the lookout for in the season opener tonight:
1. How will redshirt freshman QB Daniel Jones perform in first start?
With redshirt senior quarterback Thomas Sirk ruled out for the season after re-injuring his Achilles, Coach Cutcliffe turned to redshirt freshman Daniel Jones to lead the offense. Jones impressed the coaching staff in training camp to earn the starting nod, and all Duke fans will be watching to see how well he performs. The previous match-ups against NCCU have typically been blowouts with the Blue Devils winning 55-0 last season, but it will be interesting to watch how the passing game clicks in Jones’ first start for Duke Football.
2. Will defense succeed without Jeremy Cash?
Duke Football has a lot of talent on defense this season, but the Blue Devils lost a major key to the defense from last season. Safety Jeremy Cash is the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, a three-time all-conference and All-America selection, a leader as team captain, and was a huge playmaker on defense. Duke will turn to redshirt senior defensive back DeVon Edwards to lead the defensive secondary this season, but it’s going to be tough to replace a player with Jeremy Cash’s talent and experience.
3. What impact will special teams have?
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Duke Football will take the field this season with first time starters at the kicker and punter positions after graduating arguably the top field goal kicker in school history and one of the program’s top punters. K Ross Martin and P Will Monday are both currently signed to NFL roster, and Duke will turn to two young players in freshman kicker A.J. Reed and redshirt freshman punter Austin Parker this season. Special teams is often overlooked, but the team will need them to make extra points, field goals, and put opposing offenses in bad field position.
Another thing to look forward to this season on special teams is Edwards as a kick returner. He’s is a versatile player and dynamic playmaker in the return game. DeVon Edwards has six career returned TDs and is one away from tying the NCAA record for kickoff returns for touchdowns set by Clemson’s C.J. Spiller in 2009.
** Bonus ** 4. Wallace Wade Stadium
The renovations to Wallace Wade Football Stadium will finally be complete. Duke opened the Blue Devil Tower and brand new press box, improved stadium entrance gates with new security measures, the Scott Family Athletics Performance Center, and the Tribull Plaza between Wallace Wade and Cameron Indoor Stadium as they continue to upgrade the athletic facilities on campus. The new stadium will help improve the fan experience and hopefully provide a better home field advantage for the team.
Make sure to catch Duke Football in their first game of the 2016 season in the Bull City Gridiron Classic against Durham-based North Carolina Central University. The game will kickoff at 6 pm and can be seen nationally on ESPN3.