Starting quarterback: gone. All-ACC running back: gone. Best receiver: gone. Offensive line: four returning starters. It’s not hard to figure out which unit will be the strength of the offense for Duke football.
LT Graham Barton, LG Maurice McIntyre, RG Jacob Monk, and RT John Gelotte are all back for another season. Replacing the rock-steady Jack Wohlabaugh at center won’t be easy, but it is hoped Addison Penn or Brian Perez can pick up where he left off.
This unit hopes to improve on a quietly impressive performance last year. Stats don’t always tell you everything, but when I look at the numbers from 2021 it tells me this is an underrated group. They led the way for Mateo Durant to rush for a school-record 1,241 yards. As a team, the Blue Devils averaged nearly 180 yards per game on the ground. Considering ACC title game participants Pitt and Wake Forest both gave up more sacks, the 27 given up by the Blue Devil line was more than respectable.
Despite the loss of a key member like Wohlabaugh, this group may be deeper this season thanks to a couple of transfers. Andre Harris started 43 games during his time at Arkansas State. The likeable native of Oklahoma has the ability to play tackle or guard. His versatility will be needed over the course of the twelve-game schedule. Adding to the depth is mammoth-sized (6’7”, 329 pounds) tackle Chance Lytle. He brings thirty games of experience, including four starts, with him from Colorado.
If the Blue Devils are going to successfully fill all of those holes at the skill positions, this offensive line can’t just be good early in the season. They have to be dominant until those inexperienced players get comfortable. If that happens, it will go a long way in helping the offense improve from last year.