At ACC’s Football Kickoff on Sunday, Duke unveiled its 2013 depth chart and there were no real surprises as the roster is full of talent both experienced and inexperienced.
Oddly much of the Blue Devils projected lineup was consistent with my position breakdowns give or take a few tweaks here or there but, then again it didn’t take much guess work to figure the guys with the experience were going to be the ones getting the starting nod, at least heading into the season.
At quarterback, Anthony Boone of course gets the starting nod. Due to the Achilles injury that Thomas Sirk suffered in the spring he is expected to miss the entire 2013 season making junior Brandon Connette the projected backup.
Connette hasn’t played a traditional quarterback role at any point since he arrived at Duke, playing mostly as an option quarterback in goal-line packages and gimmick plays. In the even Boone goes down he will have to be the primary backup. And while he has shown the ability to run the run-option plays, he has to be able to throw the ball to make Duke’s offense go.
It would be wise to keep an eye on true freshman Parker Boehme who enrolled back in January. He was unable to practice for the entire spring but was forced into action in the spring game with injuries to both Sirk and Connette that kept them out. Despite his lack of practice time Boehme shook off some serious rust and played well. He could be forced to provide some meaningful snaps this season if injuries become an issue.
There was no real shock at running back where Juwan Thompson is first on the the depth chart followed by Josh Snead and Jela Duncan. Despite that though expect Duncan, who was Duke’s leading rusher last year to get a lot, if not the bulk of the carries by mid season.
The receiving corps which lost All-ACC players in Conner Vernon and Desmond Scott, will be forced to reload. Max McCaffrey will join Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney as the three receivers in the Blue Devils’ lineup. Expect Anthony Nash, Brandon Braxton and Erich Schneider to be the primary backups there. At tightend Braxton Deaver is the starter, as expected, with David Reeves coming in as a backup.
The offensive line was a no brainer with center Matt Skura, guards Dave Harding and Laken Tomlinson, and tackles Takoby Cofield and Perry Simmons as projected starters. The Blue Devils still have some experience in Lucas Patrick coming off the bench in relief.
On the defensive side of the ball, the defensive line is set with Kenny Anunike and Justin Foxx at the ends and Jamal Bruce and Sydney Sarmiento at the tackles. The line though is exceptionally deep and guys like Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo and Dezmond Johnson will get plenty of snaps as well as a lot of other guys on the interior like Carlos Wray, and Keilin Rayner.
The starting linebackers will be Kelby Brown at the Mike linebacker and C.J. France at the Will linebacker position. Much like the defensive line Duke has other guys with experience and I’d fully expected them to see some action with guys like David Helton and Kyler Brown getting a lot of snaps.
The secondary, which is probably the area concerns most experts includes veteran Ross Cockrell who will be the anchor of this unit. He will be joined at the other corner position by Garrett Patterson as David Cutcliffe and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles opt for experience. Evrett Edwards is slated as second on the depth chart but has the talent to move up and he will get snaps.
At safety the Blue Devils will start Corbin McCarthy(Rover), Jeremy Cash(Strike) and Dwayne Norman(Bandit). While there is a lot of concern about the youth of the secondary all but Cash, who is generally perceived as Duke’s best safety, has the least amount of game experience at Duke.
I suspect they will struggle at times but there is enough talent there to be an effective secondary. Cockrell will have to be a leader and teach the younger guys, especially at corner.
There was no shock in special teams either as Will Monday will handled the punting duties while Ross Martin will handle the place kicking job. Both are projected All-ACC caliber players in 2013.
Overall no real surprises and I suspect there will still be some position battles still leading up to the first game. Baring injuries though Duke is definitely as deep as they’ve been in some time but really need to avoid the injury bug to ensure they keep the best players on the field as much as possible.
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