It seems as if everyone who writes, talks about, or even thinks about college football loves to give their predictions on what they think will happen in an upcoming season. They range from the well thought, carefully considered to the ridiculous I-hate-this-team-so-I’m-going-to-say-something-that-makes-me-look-stupid. My hope is you find my five rather ambitious predictions for Duke football’s 2022 season to be well thought and carefully considered, and not the other.
Vincent Anthony, Jr. gets 8 sacks – A hometown kid (Durham’s Jordan High School) who is the crown jewel of head coach Mile Elko’s first recruiting class. He’s a pure edge rusher who has that quick first step all elite pass rushers possess. Anthony was recently named to 247Sports’ Preseason True Freshman All-American team. Very big things are expected from him. Eight sacks may seem a bit lofty for a true freshman, but he has that kind of potential.
Riley Leonard throws for 2,800 yards – He’ll need to average over 233 yards per game, but if that veteran offensive line can protect him, the sophomore from Alabama is capable. He’ll need to be a good decision maker and get his completion percentage up over sixty-five percent to reach that kind of yardage total.
Better late than never – I think this might be the safest of my predictions. I firmly believe Mike Elko’s team will be much better later in the season than early. You’ll see guys settle into the new systems more and more, and gain confidence in their roles. It may not show up in the terms of wins and losses, but I don’t think you’re going to see a team that gets boot stomped into a chalk outline week after week. The Blue Devils will be much more competitive.
Upset! – The Blue Devils pull off an upset during the ACC part of their schedule (please, oh PLEASE let it be Pitt). As I said, I think this team will be better late in the season and that means they will be primed for a November upset. They’ll be on the road that month at Boston College, home against Virginia Tech, back on the road to play Pitt on that awful turf at Acrisure Stadium (formerly Heinz Field), before returning to the friendly confines of Wallace Wade Stadium to take on Wake Forest in the regular season finale. None of these teams are juggernauts (despite what Pitt fans will tell you about their Panthers). Bowl contenders? Yes, but by that point in the season I think the Blue Devils will be capable of picking off one of these four.
Jordan Moore has breakout season – Officially, he is the backup quarterback. Unofficially, he is looked upon by the coaches as a weapon they can line up at multiple positions (read my article on that here). Elko has made it clear he sees him as a playmaker and wants to get the ball into the hands of Moore often. I think there is a real possibility the sophomore from Maryland has a monster season and becomes a breakout star in the ACC.
There you have them. Five ambitious predictions. Some may think they’re too ambitious for a team coming off of a 3-9 season. To those people I say it is ok to dream big. It is time to raise expectations for Duke football, because this team is capable of accomplishing all five of these predictions.