The one position that could be poised for the biggest breakout and is loaded with perhaps the most talent is at the running back position.
Duke return all of is key running backs from last year and the only question that needs to be answered is will the offense utilize the running attack in a more productive and prolific way. The Blue Devils have not always utilized or focused on the running game and their efforts at times have appeared forced.
At times it seemed all the running plays appeared to be just the same play over and over again with little diversity. When the Blue Devils did run the ball, the whole attack was disjointed and an unsuccessful attempt to create some semblance of balance in the offense, despite having such a talented pool of young running backs.
The Blue Devils return a veteran offensive line and now a veteran pool of backs.
Senior Juwan Thompson will likely be the starter at running back and lead the Blue Devil’s rushing attack. Thompson didn’t have the most impressive stats but David Cutcliffe likes experience at least to start games. Thompson has the ability to run in between the tackles and could be a battering ram for the Blue Devils. Thompson rushed 75 times for 352 yards but only 1 touchdown during the 2012 season.
Sophomore Jela Duncan may be the most talented running back on the entire team. He has a combination of break-away speed and power to be a feature back and perhaps the Blue Devils most valuable weapons on offense. He broke onto the scene in 2012 with a strong season. He rushed for 553 yards on 109 carries and 4 touchdowns, all team highs and not a bad year for a freshman running back in a pass oriented offense. And while I suspect Thompson will start, Duncan likely could get the bulk of the carries again in 2013.
The Blue Devils second leading rusher, Josh Snead also returns. Snead, a small, faster back is likely to be a versatile weapons used as both a running threat as well as a pass catching threat out of the backfield or spread out. Snead rushed 99 times for 496 yards and two touchdowns. Snead is a speedster who can serve as a real chance of pace from the between the tackles running that Duncan and Thompson can do. He is a threat that once he gets in the open field will be hard to catch.
Beyond those three the Blue Devils still have some younger, less experience options. Sophomore Shaquile Powell came to Duke with a reputation as a strong, in between the tackles runner who could make an impact in goal-line situations. After being moved over to safety briefly for last season’s Belk Bowl, Powell is back in at running back and should get some playing time.
Another name to keep an eye on is true freshman Joseph Ajeigbe from Riverside, California. Ajeigbe is a back that drew some interest from some PAC 12 school but stuck with the Blue Devils. He maybe a year or two a way from getting serious playing time, but given the Blue Devil’s issues with consistency and injuries, he could see some action.
With those five, the running back position is truly deep and has some talent. How the Blue Devils coaching staff opts to use those backs remains to be seen. Duke will likely be implementing a more spread option attack which would lead you to think they may run the ball more.
Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper took some heavy criticism at times last year on how he designed running plays and utilized the backs. If he can find a way to better implement them into this new scheme then the Blue Devils definitely have a talented corp of runners who could help Duke move the chains forward in 2013.
Projected starter: Juwan Thompson
Key Reserves: Jela Duncan, Josh Snead, Shaquille Powell, Joseph Ajeigbe
More Position Breakdowns:
Follow us on Twitter @DukeBlogMKline and visit our Facebook page-Duke Sports Blog. Got question? E-mail us at email@example.com
This article was originally published at http://DukeSportsBlog.com. If you are interested in sharing your website's content with SCACCHoops.com, Contact Us.