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Duke Will Win The Coastal Division

Coach David Cutcliffe has brought success to Durham. Can it continue?

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Duke Blue Devil football program is dealing with an unusual problem.  The past three seasons, the Blue Devils have put up 10-4, 9-4, and 8-5 records.  For most football programs that is pretty good.  For Duke, those records are unbelievable.  What caused this magical transformation? Coach David Cutcliffe appears to have found the magical formula to lure top talent to Durham.  The Blue Devils beat the Hokies in a 4 OT thriller last year.  That marked the third straight year the home team lost the matchup.  The good news is that Virginia Tech travels to Durham in 2016.  Duke was 6-1 at one point in 2015, but four straight losses brought the Blue Devils back to earth.

The 2015 QB Thomas Sirk ruptured an tendon in spring practice, and this leaves Parker Boehme as the signal caller for Duke.  The running back corps is anchored by Shaun Wilson. Wilson had 432 yards last season, and should improve in 2016.  Senior Jela Duncan will also get plenty of touches for the Devil offense.  The Devils averaged 439 yards of total offense last season, but may struggle finding an identity without Sirk.  True freshman Scott Bracey and transfer TE Daniel Helm should provide some good targets down the field.

In the quick start, the Blue Devils defense played lights out. As the season wore on they fell apart, allowing 516.3 YPG over the last 7 games.  Duke will be counting on MLB Ben Humphreys to be a big hitter against the run.  The secondary did lose All-A.C.C. Jeremy Cash, but 10 of the top 11 DB's return.  Senior AJ Wolf anchors the defensive front, and the Blue Devils need some more sack production out of this group.  Marquies Price might just be their guy. He is a 6'6" athletic DE who had decent playing time as a true freshman last season.

The schedule for Duke in 2016 is a complete nightmare.  They have a back to back stretch out west against Northwestern and Notre Dame.  Their road schedule is brutal.  Road foes for the Blue Devils include: Louisville, Georgia Tech, Pitt, and Miami.  This schedule is going to present a major problem for Duke.  I have Duke finishing 5-7 with wins against: NC Central, Wake Forest, Virginia, Army, and Pitt (but that's a coin flip).  If Parker Boehme puts together a big season, that could easily bump to 7-5.