Duke Football: Blue Devils’ Biggest Improvement? The Nation’s Top Run Defense

DURHAM, NC - SEPTEMBER 09: Drew Jordan
DURHAM, NC - SEPTEMBER 09: Drew Jordan /

Duke Football has improved in a number of areas between last year to this season. The most obvious difference is their top-ranked run defense.

Many things have changed this year to help Duke Football get off to a 3-0 start, compared to a 1-2 start last season. Daniel Jones has elevated his play and improved his decision-making, the Blue Devil running backs have dominated early in the year, plus more. However, the most evident changes can be seen on the defensive side of the ball, where Duke currently boasts one of the top defenses in college football.

Duke Football currently has the #1 run defense in the NCAA FBS division. The Blue Devils have allowed only 47.7 rushing yards per game so far this season. Additionally, they are second in opponent third down percentage (12%) and 7th in overall yardage allowed per game (223).

Live Feed

Top 5 College Quarterbacks heading into week 3 (and 5 to watch)
Top 5 College Quarterbacks heading into week 3 (and 5 to watch) /

With the First Pick

  • 2024 NFL Draft: Scouting Notes on Top Edge DefendersWith the First Pick
  • 2024 NFL Draft: Week 1 Prospect Stock ReportWith the First Pick
  • Duke QB Riley Leonard runs all over Clemson's defense for unbelievable touchdownFanSided
  • Helmet Stickers: The Best Performers of Week OneWith the First Pick
  • How much do college football referees make?FanSided
  • Compared to last year, these numbers have decreased drastically. In the first three games of the 2016 season, Duke had already allowed averages of 121.0 rushing yards, 302.3 total yards, and a 24% third down conversion rate.

    So what is the big difference between this year’s defensive front and last year’s? Part of it is improved talent, with the Blue Devils landing several talented defensive line recruits including
    Victor Dimukeje, Drew Jordan, Axel Nyembwe, and more. Returning players such as Mike Ramsay have also improved over the offseason. Ramsay is the current ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week after a 5 tackle and 2.5 tackles for loss performance against Baylor. Duke’s All-ACC linebacker duo of Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris have also been playing lights out, combining for 39 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions.

    Next: Significance of Duke-UNC Rivalry In September

    Duke will look to continue their defensive success against UNC this weekend. The Tar Heels have been inconsistent offensively due to injuries and inexperienced players. The Blue Devils will look to move to 4-0 and get their first ACC win of the season on the road in Chapel Hill.