The start of the 2016 college football season is fast approaching. Its time to take a look at what to expect from the Blue Devils on the gridiron this fall
The Duke secondary really struggled down the stretch last season. The Duke defense was playing as good as any unit in the ACC for the first half of last season, but the second half was a different story. Duke gave up 3 passing touchdowns through the first 6 games of the regular season. They gave up 17 in the last 6 games. But still, the group’s collective talent and experience figures to make the secondary one of Duke’s strengths this season.
The Blue Devils could have four seniors starting in the secondary with DeVon Edwards, Breon Borders, Corbin McCarthy, and Deondre Singleton. Borders is undoubtedly Duke’s best coverman. Borders has 10 career interceptions and 23 career passes defended and can be expected to add to those totals this year. Heading into the fall DeVon Edwards was expected to move from safety to cornerback for the 2016 season, but that plan may have been scrapped for a couple of reasons. Rs-junior Bryon Fields missed last season due to injury but is ready to go this year and early reviews from practice on Fields are great. He could return to his starting spot opposite Fields. Another reason Edwards may slide back to safety, at least to start the season, is Phillip Carter’s suspension. Carter was expected to start this season, but after violating team rules he will be forced to sit the first three games. Singleton and McCarthy will man the other safety positions to start the year. McCarthy hasn’t seen a ton of game action, but still has plenty of experience, and has played well when given the opportunity.
Jeremy McDuffie will back up the corner position. McDuffie saw a lot of playing time as a true freshman last season. McDuffie struggled covering some deep routes, but should now be back to full speed after a knee injury during his senior season of high school. McDuffie has all the tools and should take a big step forward this season. Alonzo Saxton came to Duke as a cornerback, but may be moved over to safety depending on overall secondary depth, but can play either position. He has solid cover skills and is a dependable reserve.
The wild card in the secondary is true freshman Dylan Singleton. Dylan is the younger brother of senior safety Deondre Singleton and chose Duke over a long list of big name schools. Dylan is certainly the future for the Duke secondary, but could also play a big part in the present.
Replacing an All-American player like Jeremy Cash is never easy, but Duke has the collective talent to handle the loss. In the last few seasons Duke has played Cash almost as an extra linebacker to help with tackling and stopping the run. With an expected increase in production from the defensive line and linebackers, this year the secondary may be able to focus more on coverage and defending the back end of the defense. That may be enough to make sure we don’t see a repeat of last season’s struggles.
Check out our other preseason position previews: