The ACC Kickoff Event was held in Charlotte on Thursday and Friday. The annual event serves as an unofficial start to the season. Coaches, players, and media members gather to discuss and promote the upcoming season.
We are less than seven weeks from the start of the games and the next month and a half will be spent analyzing and predicting what every team in the country can expect to accomplish in 2017.
The Blue Devils are looking to bounce back after going 4-8 overall and 1-7 in conference play last season, missing a bowl game for the first time since 2011. Duke brings back some important core pieces, but expects to have plenty of young players contributing as well. The preseason depth chart was released last week and features 22 freshmen and sophomores on the 2 deep. Despite the youth, the team believes this is one of the deepest and most talented teams Duke has had. There has certainly been an prick in talent in recent years as the Blue Devil’s success on the field has led to success on the recruiting trail.
While there are plenty of underclassmen set to see the field this season, some of them have already gained valuable experience after being forced to play ahead of schedule last year. One of those young, but experienced guys is quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones started all last year as a redshift freshman, and after some early struggles emerged as a real highlight for Duke in an otherwise frustrating season. Jones is one of only two returning starters at quarterback in the Coastal Division. That should be an advantage for Duke. Both Jones and Cutcliffe are both confident that the quarterback is ready to take the next step and the the whole team will forward with him.
The Coastal Division is arguably the most unpredictable in all of college football year in and year out. This season figures to follow that narrative once again. If the Blue Devil’s want to emerge from the pack and play for the ACC Championship in December they’ll need the talent to show more than the youth this season.