There might be excitement among Blue Devil faithful about head coach Mike Elko’s first season at the helm of Duke football, but that feeling definitely is not shared by those in those in the media. If there is one word to sum up how they view the 2022 Duke football program it is “last.” Preseason predictions are not being kind.
Every media outlet I could find has the Blue Devils finishing last in the ACC’s Coastal Division. Those who voted at the ACC’s Media Days: last. Athlon Sports’ preview magazine: last. Phil Steele’s: last. Two of the six writers giving their predictions for CBS Sports have them finishing ahead of Georgia Tech, at least. Pretty much everyone else you can find? Last.
When you look at those who rank all 131 FBS teams, there is an equal amount of negative opinions. Athlon’s has the Devils as the lowest-rated Power 5 team at 110th. CBS Sports has them at 109, with only Vanderbilt being lower among Power 5 teams. College Football News gives cause for hope by putting Elko’s team 83rd, but think they will finish with just two wins.
Athlon’s ACC position rankings are no more kind to the Blue Devils. Of the seven units rated (QB, RB, WR, OL, DL, LB, DB), they are fourteenth and last in five. Only the offensive line (twelfth) and defensive line (thirteenth) are not viewed as the worst in the league. Let’s be honest here, with four starters returning in a group that led the way for the now-departed Mateo Grant to set the school’s single-season rushing record (1,241 yards) and having added a couple of quality transfers, the Blue Devil offensive line is rated way too low. I’m also in disagreement with listing left tackle Graham Barton as only third-team all-conference.
How do you turn all of this negativity in to a positive? You use it as motivation. If I’m Mike Elko, I’m reminding my players every chance I get that everyone feels they don’t have a chance. Use it as motivation to push the Blue Devils to get better and prove all of these naysayers wrong.