Duke: Countdown to Kickoff 2013



Duke's offensive line is loaded with veterans, as the projected first team has combined for 104 career starts … Those starts are divided between veteran tackles Takoby Cofield (15 starts) and Perry Simmons (37 starts) and guards Laken Tomlinson (25 starts) and Dave Harding (27 starts) … Matt Skura, the projected starter at center, is the new kid on the block … The redshirt sophomore sat out the 2011 season to grow and mature, then saw some action (125 snaps in 10 games) last season … Overall, the Blue Devils return 32 players who started at least one game in 2012 and 17 who were regular members of the starting lineup … Kelby Brown, voted the team's best linebacker in 2011, missed all last season with a knee injury and was limited in his work last spring … But Brown now appears 100 percent healthy and hopes to figure into the mix as the Blue Devils prepare for the start of the 2013 season.

Numbers & Notes

.870 - PK Ross Martin made 20 of his 23 field goal attempts as a true freshman in 2012, an .870 percentage. Martin set an ACC freshman record for points scored (106) and was named a first-team Freshman All-America by CBSSports.com, FoxSportsNext.com, Phil Steele and CFN.com.

12 - Senior CB Ross Cockrell ranked 12th nationally in passes defended in 2012, with 13 pass deflections and 5 interceptions for a total of 18, an average of 1.38 per game.

17 - Though he’s not started a game for the Blue Devils, junior QB Brandon Connette, who has seen significant playing time in goal line situations,  has scored 17 career touchdowns.

44.6 - Duke sophomore P Will Monday led the ACC in punting in 2012 as a freshman, averaging 44.6 yard a punt and earned first-team All-ACC honors.

103 - Duke leads all ACC schools in returning starts by its offensive linemen. The Blue Devils return four players who started in 2012--tackles Perry Simmons (37) and Tacoby Cofield (14) and guards Laken Tomlinson (25) and Dave Harding (27)--who have combined to make 103 career starts between them.

1,074 - Junior WR Jamison Crowder was one of two Blue Devils last year to record exactly 1,074 pass receiving yards. The other was graduated Blue Devil Conner Vernon, the ACC’s all-time leading receiver. Crowder was tied for 3rd in the ACC in receiving yards per game and  was fifth in receptions with 76.

2012 In Review

2012 was a watershed year for Duke football and its head coach David Cutcliffe as the Blue Devils earned their first bowl appearance in 18 years; defeated arch-rival North Carolina for the first time in nine seasons and came within a minute and 20-seconds of posting their first bowl win in 41 years...Parlaying an explosive offense led by QB Sean Renfree and record-breaking WR Conner Vernon, and an opportunistic defensive unit led by CB Ross Cockrell, the Blue Devils posted a 6-7 overall record and were in the hunt for the Coastal Division title until the next to-last week of the season... Cutcliffe was named the ACC’s Coach of the Year by both the media and football coaches for his efforts...Renfree finished his career ranked 3rd on the ACC’s all-time list for completions (898) and 7th in passing yardage (9,465)...Vernon became the ACC’s all-time leading pass receiver for catches (283) and yards (3,749) and set a league mark for most consecutive games with a pass reception, making a catch in every game of his career (48)...Sophomore WR Jamison Crowder finished 5th in pass receptions and tied for third with Vernon in reception yardage (1,074)...Senior WR Desmond Scott (66 catches) ranked 8th in the ACC in catches per game (5.1)...Vernon and Cockrell earned first-team All-ACC honors, while redshirt freshman P Will Monday led the ACC (44.6) and earned 2nd-team All-ACC accolades...Crowder, PK Ross Martin, who made 20 of 23 FG attempts, T Perry Simmons, DE Kenny Anunike were Honorable Mention All-ACC... Monday and Martin were each named first-team Freshmen All-Americas.

Who’s Gone

Duke loses eight starters in all, four each on offense and defense. Offensively, the Blue Devils will be without Renfree, Vernon and Scott as well as C Brian Moore...On defense, Duke will need to find replacements for LB Austin Gamble and three members of the secondary in Ss Jordan Byas and Walt Canty and CB Lee Butler.

2013 In Review

Though Duke didn’t lose many starters, almost all were playmakers...Junior QB Anthony Boone steps in for Renfree and adds a threat in the running game...Junior QB Brandon Connette will also see some action in goal line situations (he ran for 8 TDs last fall) and at TE, but promising redshirt freshman QB Thomas Sirk suffered a ruptured achilles tendon in the spring which will prevent him from playing this fall...Finding someone to compliment Crowder at wide receiver is also a priority, with Brandon Braxton moving back from defense to join sophomore WR Max McCaffrey and redshirt freshman Anthony Nash...Juniors Issac Blakeney and Nick Sink and sophomore David Reeves ably man the tight end position ...With all four running backs returning in Juwan Thompson (352 yds), Josh Snead (496 yds), Jela Duncan (553 yds) and Shaquille Powell as well as an offensive line that returns four starters in Ts Perry Simmons and Tacoby Cofield and Gs Laken Tomlinson and Dave Harding, the Blue Devils will look for an improved ground game...Sophomore letterman Matt Skura moves into the center position with lettermen John Coleman and Lucas Patrick and T Tanner Stone pushing for playing time... Defensively, Duke has experience available in Anunike and Justin Foxx starting at end, backed by Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo, Jamal Wallace and Dezmond Johnson... DT Sydney Sarmiento and NG Jamal Bruce  head into fall as the starters inside with DT A.J. Wolf, NG Carlos Wray and NG Steven Ingram competing for playing time...Junior David Helton (55 tackles) leads a linebacker corps that includes  the brother tandem of Kyler (51 tackles) and Kelby Brown and junior C.J. France (60 tackles)...Senior CB Ross Cockrell led the ACC in passes defended (18) and heads a re-tooled secondary that includes CBs Garrett Patterson, DeVon Edwards and Evrett Edwards... At the safety positions sophomore Dwayne Norman leads Anthony Young-Wiseman at Bandit, with Ohio State transfer Jeremy Cash at Strike and redshirt freshman Corbin McCarthy at Rover... Freshman Quay Mann and sophomore Christian Conway are also in the mix and competing for playing time.