2013 Duke football's 10 things to know: The breakthrough that wasn't

Streeter Lecka

The recipe Duke followed for making a bowl game last year could certainly be replicable again for David Cutcliffe and his Blue Devils at some point. But it still requires some breaks. For more Duke, visit SB Nation's Duke Basketball Report and Blue vs. Blue.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. The good news: Last season wasn't it

It's easy to assume that was the peak. With a senior-laden offense in head coach David Cutcliffe's fifth season, Duke scored a couple of close wins and eked out bowl eligibility for the first time since 1994. It was a neat story -- and they damn sure made the Belk Bowl worth watching -- but the Blue Devils' late-season slide (they were 6-2 and finished 6-7) likely signaled that they would soon be going back into hiding for another 20 years.

For all we know, that's exactly what will happen. Cutcliffe has done a wonderful job in Durham just to get to this point. In six years, his Blue Devils have won at least four games three times; they had pulled that off just twice in the 13 years before his arrival. The Duke job is really, really difficult, and Cutcliffe's done his best. If his legacy is a single Belk Bowl bid, that's still better than the legacies of the last two guys and most of the coaches who have taken the job in college football's modern era.

If there's an encouraging note here, though, it comes in the F/+ progression chart below. Duke wasn't actually any better in 2012 than in 2008, 2009, 2010, or 2011. They didn't really do anything special other than go 2-1 in games decided by one possession. (They were 6-13 in such games from 2008-11.) In terms of on-paper production, they have been one of the more consistent programs in college football lately. With some luck and decent experience levels, they could potentially be expected to make the creep to six wins again at some point.

2. The bad news: Last season wasn't it

Yes, Duke indeed figured out a six-win recipe last year, one that could be replicated at some point. And no, they really weren't very good in 2012, ranking 81st in the F/+ rankings after ranking 78th, 68th, 78th, and 75th, respectively, in the four preceding seasons.

For better or worse, that's Duke's ceiling moving forward, as well. Cutcliffe has recruited at a pretty low level for a BCS-conference squad -- again, Duke's a really hard job -- and while he has concocted a pretty interesting system on offense (one that has ranked 53rd and 50th, respectively, in Off. F/+ over the last two years), he has yet to figure anything out defensively. Duke has gotten worse on defense in each of the last four years, and while experience should be enough to end that streak in 2013, it won't turn the tide all that much.

Cutcliffe has done a solid job. He really has. If things break well, the Blue Devils could hold steady on offense, improve slightly on defense, pull off close wins against a Georgia Tech or Pittsburgh, and threaten to reach .500 again this year. But six wins is probably the most they can expect this year … and most years heading into the future.

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 6-7 | Adj. Record: 3-10 | Final F/+ Rk: 81
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep Florida International 46-26 W 35.7 - 31.8 W
8-Sep at Stanford 13-50 L 27.2 - 35.9 L
15-Sep N.C. Central 54-17 W 22.6 - 48.2 L
22-Sep Memphis 38-14 W 32.4 - 11.2 W
29-Sep at Wake Forest 34-27 W 27.5 - 36.4 L
6-Oct Virginia 42-17 W 28.4 - 30.1 L
13-Oct at Virginia Tech 20-41 L 28.8 - 46.8 L
20-Oct North Carolina 33-30 W 35.9 - 24.1 W
27-Oct at Florida State 7-48 L 25.5 - 35.2 L
3-Nov Clemson 20-56 L 21.3 - 45.1 L
17-Nov at Georgia Tech 24-42 L 24.3 - 26.9 L
24-Nov Miami 45-52 L 24.5 - 46.8 L
27-Dec vs. Cincinnati 34-48 L 42.2 - 43.1 L
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 31.5 44 36.0 109
Adj. Points Per Game 28.9 58 35.5 115

3. Breaking down

Duke's record was probably going to slide late in the season, no matter what. The Blue Devils' schedule was back-loaded, with Florida State, Clemson, and Miami all coming up in the final four games. They likely knew how important the Wake Forest and North Carolina games were to the six-win cause, and power to them for pulling those games out.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 4 games): Opponent 31.8, Duke 29.5 (minus-2.3)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 4 games): Opponent 34.4, Duke 30.2 (minus-4.2)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 4 games): Opponent 38.5, Duke 23.9 (minus-14.6)

That said, even with the scheduling upgrade, Duke still faded pretty significantly down the stretch. After playing somewhere near (but not quite at) average over the first two months, this team was pretty poor on both sides of the ball late in the year. Injuries on defense and minimal options on offense took their toll, and the result was a pretty impressive collapse: a name-your-score loss to Florida State (as in, FSU could have scored however much it wanted to), an even greater defensive stumble against Clemson, a no-offense loss to Georgia Tech, and a fun shootout loss to Miami. Including a 21-point loss to Virginia Tech, Duke played its worst against its best opponents.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 55 48 48 46
RUSHING 100 62 49 71
PASSING 31 42 49 43
Standard Downs 53 51 59
Passing Downs 32 55 24
Redzone 44 52 42
Q1 Rk 32 1st Down Rk 64
Q2 Rk 64 2nd Down Rk 28
Q3 Rk 50 3rd Down Rk 47
Q4 Rk 51

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Sean Renfree 260 392 2,755 66.3% 18 8 18 4.4% 6.4
Anthony Boone 6'0, 230 Jr. *** (5.6) 49 95 531 51.6% 5 2 1 1.0% 5.5
Brandon Connette 6'2, 225 Jr. *** (5.5) 4 12 36 33.3% 2 0 5 29.4% 1.6
Thomas Sirk 6'4, 215 RSFr. *** (5.7)






Parker Boehme 6'2, 215 Fr. *** (5.5)






4. Take what you're given

Sean Renfree was almost exactly what David Cutcliffe looks for in a quarterback. He's built well (6'3, 220), he's smart and decisive, he avoided bad throws for the most part. And most importantly for the Duke offense, he quickly figured out what the defense was giving him and took it. (Duke's run-pass percentages are a little skewed, considering a good portion of Duke's passes were of the extended-handoff variety.)

For what Renfree had at his disposal -- a revolving door of below-average backs, possession receivers, and no big-play threats whatsoever outside of Jamison Crowder -- the fact that he engineered a top-60 performance out of this unit for two straight years is quite impressive. His legacy is not insurmountable, but in looking at the candidates at hand, it's not difficult to see a drop off in production from the quarterback position in 2013.

Anthony Boone is experienced but impatient. Brandon Connette has been used mostly as a run-first threat (who can't actually run incredibly well). Redshirt freshman, and last year's star recruit, Thomas Sirk is likely missing the season with an Achilles injury. and Parker Boehme is a true freshman. There is no slam-dunk here, to say the least. But whoever wins the job will at least suffice if he can master the art of taking what is given to him.

Lord knows Duke won't suddenly have amazing weapons it didn't have last year. The Blue Devils will have to lean on efficiency once again.

All four of last year's primary running backs return, including rare four-star recruit Shaq Powell. Powell was ineffective as a freshman, but he still has potential, and fellow sophomore Jela Duncan showed more flashes than anybody else in this unit last year (nine carries for 88 yards versus Memphis, six for 64 versus Miami).

The receiving corps, meanwhile, has thinned out a bit with the departure of Conner Vernon and Desmond Scott, two steady possession guys, but Crowder returns. He's exciting, and he could get help in the efficiency department from guys like Brandon Braxton and Issac Blakeney. And in theory, the tight end position could see more play this year with the return of David Reeves, Braxton Deaver, and an interesting redshirt freshman in Dan Bellinson. The skill position ceiling isn't very high here, but there's at least a little bit of potential in guys like Duncan, Crowder, and Powell.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Jela Duncan RB 5'10, 210 So. *** (5.7) 109 553 5.1 4.2 4 +5.3
Josh Snead RB 5'9, 190 Jr. *** (5.7) 99 496 5.0 3.9 2 +3.4
Juwan Thompson RB 5'11, 225 Sr. *** (5.7) 75 352 4.7 3.5 1 -1.3
Brandon Connette QB 6'2, 225 Jr. *** (5.5) 41 91 2.2 1.5 7 -7.9
Shaquille Powell RB 5'10, 205 So. **** (5.8) 28 93 3.3 1.0 0 -5.1
Anthony Boone QB 6'0, 230 Jr. *** (5.6) 25 88 3.5 2.8 2 -2.1
Sean Renfree QB 20 91 4.6 4.1 1 -0.4

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Conner Vernon WR 128 85 1074 66.4% 8.4 24.6% 61.7% 8.4 126.6
Jamison Crowder WR 5'9, 175 Jr. *** (5.5) 116 76 1074 65.5% 9.3 22.3% 55.2% 9.4 126.6
Desmond Scott WR 92 66 666 71.7% 7.2 17.7% 63.0% 7.3 78.5
Brandon Braxton (2011) WR 6'1, 210 Sr. ** (5.3) 66 40 352 60.6% 5.3 14.0% 60.6% N/A N/A
Issac Blakeney SLOT 6'6, 235 Jr. ** (5.2) 53 32 290 60.4% 5.5 10.2% 58.5% 5.5 34.2
Juwan Thompson RB 5'11, 225 Sr. *** (5.7) 33 24 128 72.7% 3.9 6.3% 54.5% 4.0 15.1
David Reeves TE 6'5, 250 So. *** (5.5) 28 18 122 64.3% 4.4 5.4% 53.6% 4.3 14.4
Jela Duncan RB 5'10, 210 So. *** (5.7) 25 19 89 76.0% 3.6 4.8% 44.0% 3.8 10.5
Josh Snead RB 5'9, 190 Jr. *** (5.7) 14 10 46 71.4% 3.3 2.7% 50.0% 2.9 5.4
Braxton Deaver (2011) TE 6'5, 240 Jr. ** (5.3) 12 8 107 66.7% 8.9 2.5% 58.3% N/A N/A
Brandon Connette QB 6'2, 225 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 11 85 91.7% 7.1 2.3% 58.3% 7.1 10.0
Corey Gattis WR 9 6 63 66.7% 7.0 1.7% 77.8% 5.4 7.4
Erich Schneider SLOT 6'7, 225 So. *** (5.6) 3 1 13 33.3% 4.3 0.6% 0.0% 2.6 1.5
Dan Beilinson TE 6'6, 250 RSFr. *** (5.6)








Anthony Nash WR 6'5, 200 RSFr. ** (5.4)








Johnell Barnes WR 5'11, 154 Fr. *** (5.7)








Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 112.0 3.02 3.78 34.8% 65.7% 17.1% 219.9 1.7% 3.3%
Rank 18 57 15 107 72 31 9 13 15
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Brian Moore C 40 career starts
Perry Simmons RT 6'5, 300 Sr. ** (5.0) 37 career starts
Dave Harding LG 6'4, 285 Sr. *** (5.6) 27 career starts
Laken Tomlinson RG 6'3, 320 Jr. *** (5.7) 25 career starts
Takoby Cofield LT 6'4, 305 Jr. *** (5.7) 15 career starts
John Coleman C 6'4, 290 Sr. ** (5.4) 9 career starts
Conor Irwin C 2 career starts
Cody Robinson LG 6'3, 300 So. *** (5.7)
Lucas Patrick LG 6'4, 310 So. *** (5.6)
Marcus Aprahamian RG 6'4, 300 So. *** (5.5)
Matt Skura C 6'4, 290 So. ** (5.3)
Carson Ginn RT 6'6, 300 So. ** (5.3)
Tanner Stone LT 6'6, 290 RSFr. ** (5.4)
Casey Blaser RT 6'5, 280 RSFr. ** (5.3)

5. A legitimately strong line

The skill positions weren't exactly amazing last year, but John Latina's line was damn strong. That Duke managed a top-10 ranking in Adj. Sack Rate could be at least partially ascribed to the nature of the quick-passing game, but the fact that Duke also ranked in the Adj. Line Yards top 20 is a highly encouraging sign.

The Blue Devils did face quite a few solid defensive lines (which gives the adjusted rankings a bit of a boost), and with a three-year starter, two two-year starters, and two others with starting experience in this year's unit (not to mention more experienced running backs attempting to take advantage of the opportunities the line creates), Duke could produce the same stats this time around.

It goes without saying that a line that knows what it's doing makes everybody else on the offense look pretty good. This line could make sure that Duke's offense doesn't slip much despite the loss of Renfree, Vernon, etc.

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 109 117 106 118
RUSHING 103 115 116 107
PASSING 104 113 57 121
Standard Downs 121 108 122
Passing Downs 92 83 96
Redzone 68 50 86
Q1 Rk 110 1st Down Rk 124
Q2 Rk 106 2nd Down Rk 68
Q3 Rk 112 3rd Down Rk 96
Q4 Rk 94

6. When experience isn't completely a good thing

I've used the Columbia-in-the-1980s example before, but I'll use it again. Back in the 1980s, when Columbia was mired in a ridiculous losing streak, I noted to my father that, per whatever preview magazine I was looking at (Sporting News, probably), the Lions returned quite a few starters, and that experience could really push them forward that year. (I've always been an unapologetic homer to underdogs.) And of course, he noted that experience only matters if there's at least a small semblance of talent involved.

Well, Duke's front six (the Blue Devils run a 4-2-5) has the experience in 2013. Every defensive lineman returns, as do last year's top three linebackers and 2011 starter Kelby Brown. That's appealing. But it only matters if these players have some level of talent.

Duke ranked 123rd -- second to last in FBS -- in Adj. Line Yards, 121st in Standard Downs S&P+, and 115th in Rushing S&P+. That's horrendous. The Blue Devils never got anybody in the backfield without blitzing, allowed more passing-downs line yards (while selling out on the blitz) than anybody in the country, and constantly allowed opposing runners to get to the second level of the defense. The front six was neither big nor particularly fast, and while experience is good, athleticism is better.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 79.5 3.39 4.37 45.4% 66.7% 14.0% 102.3 2.3% 10.2%
Rank 123 119 124 119 50 120 58 114 14
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Justin Foxx DE 6'3, 255 Sr. *** (5.7) 8 31.5 4.6% 3.5 3.5 0 0 0 1
Kenny Anunike DE 6'6, 260 Sr. *** (5.6) 11 28.5 4.2% 6 5 0 0 1 0
Nick Sink DT 6'6, 285 Jr. ** (5.4) 12 18.5 2.7% 1 0.5 0 0 0 0
Jonathan Woodruff DE 6'3, 225 Jr. ** (5.4) 12 18.0 2.7% 4.5 2.5 0 0 0 2
Dezmond Johnson DE 6'4, 260 Jr. *** (5.6) 11 16.5 2.4% 5.5 3 0 0 0 0
Sydney Sarmiento DT 6'4, 300 Sr. ** (5.2) 12 16.5 2.4% 3.5 1.5 0 0 0 1
Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo DE 6'4, 240 Jr. ** (5.2) 11 14.5 2.1% 3.5 2.5 0 0 1 0
Jamal Wallace DE 6'4, 275 Jr. *** (5.6) 8 7.0 1.0% 1.5 1.5 0 0 1 0
Steven Ingram NG 6'2, 315 Jr. ** (5.2) 10 6.0 0.9% 0 0 0 0 1 0
Jamal Bruce NG 6'1, 285 Jr. ** (5.4) 6 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 1
Sam Marshall DT 6'7, 285 So. ** (5.3) 6 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Britton Grier DE 6'1, 245 Jr. ** (5.4) 10 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Carlos Wray NG 6'2, 290 So. *** (5.5) 8 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Keilin Raynder NG 6'3, 270 RSFr. *** (5.7)
Michael Mann DE 6'4, 230 RSFr. ** (5.3)
A.J. Wolf DT 6'4, 270 RSFr. ** (5.3)

7. But hey, they could pin their ears back

The 4-2-5 is sometimes a reactive defense, utilizing its speed to swarm to the ball. Defenses like TCU's don't always log an incredible volume of tackles for loss, but at its best, this defense can minimize big gains.

Jim Knowles' 4-2-5, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. The Blue Devils were a big-play sieve last year, and the one thing they did relatively well was get after the quarterback on passing downs. There was no hope of forcing passing downs because of a non-existent run D, but on the rare occasion when they did, they could occasionally come up with a nice, big play. Or, you know, give up one.

The personality should be similar in 2013. In ends Justin Foxx and Kenny Anunike, Knowles has a pair of decent pass rushers who combined for 8.5 sacks. (With more passing downs, this could have been 10-15.) But other than with the aforementioned experience, there's no indication that the Blue Devils will actually be any better at leveraging opponents into passing downs.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Kelby Brown (2011) WLB 6'2, 230 Jr. *** (5.7) 10 48.0 7.8% 7 1.5 0 3 1 0
C.J. France WLB 6'0, 230 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 41.0 6.0% 1.5 0 1 3 1 0
David Helton MLB 6'4, 235 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 36.0 5.3% 2.5 0 0 0 0 0
Kyler Brown MLB 6'4, 230 So. ** (5.4) 11 35.5 5.2% 1.5 0 0 3 1 0
Austin Gamble MLB 12 24.5 3.6% 1.5 0.5 0 1 1 1
Deion Williams WLB 6'0, 230 So. *** (5.6) 12 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dominic Zanca LB 6'2, 242 Fr. *** (5.6)






Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Walt Canty BANDIT 12 76.5 11.3% 5.5 0.5 1 3 1 1
Jordon Byas STRIKE 9 60.5 8.9% 6 0.5 2 2 1 0
Ross Cockrell CB 6'0, 190 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 51.5 7.6% 4 1 5 12 1 0
Dwayne Norman ROVER 6'1, 200 So. *** (5.6) 12 44.0 6.5% 0.5 0 0 1 1 2
Tony Foster CB 12 30.5 4.5% 1.5 0.5 1 5 0 0
Lee Butler CB 11 27.0 4.0% 0 0 1 4 2 0
Brandon Braxton ROVER 7 27.0 4.0% 1.5 0 0 1 0 0
Tim Burton CB 7 7.0 1.0% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Anthony Young-Wiseman STRIKE 6'0, 220 Sr. ** (5.0) 7 7.0 1.0% 0 0 0 0 0 1
Garett Patterson CB 6'1, 190 Sr. ** (4.9) 12 6.0 0.9% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Corbin McCarthy STRIKE 5'10, 200 RSFr. ** (5.4) 2 3.5 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jeremy Cash BANDIT 6'2, 210 So. *** (5.7)

Jared Boyd CB 5'9, 170 So. *** (5.6)

Nick Hill STRIKE 6'2, 220 So. ** (5.4)


DeVon Edwards CB 5'9, 185 RSFr. ** (5.4)

Michael Westray BANDIT 6'1, 200 RSFr. ** (5.3)

Evrett Edwards CB 5'11, 175 Fr. *** (5.6)



Quay Mann CB 5'9, 195 Fr. ** (5.4)



8. Ross Cockrell, all alone

Knowles was able to utilize safeties Walt Canty and Jordon Byas aggressively in 2012, giving Duke some hope of making a stop behind the line before it allowed a 30-yard gain. And in Ross Cockrell, he had a damn strong cornerback; Cockrell was asked to do a ton, but he held his own, recording four tackles for loss and defensing 17 passes.

Of course, Duke was still mostly awful in the passing game, and now the secondary must replace six of last year's top eight tacklers. Cockrell's back, but nobody else is; new blood can be good for a sketchy unit, but an outright blood transfusion is still scary.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Will Monday 6'4, 210 So. 66 44.1 6 11 18 43.9%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Ross Martin 5'9, 185 So. 70 62.6 26 37.1%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Ross Martin 5'9, 185 So. 44-44 12-14 85.7% 6-6 100.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Lee Butler KR 17 20.1 0
Tim Burton KR 13 20.0 0
Jela Duncan KR 5'10, 210 So. 9 16.3 0
Lee Butler PR 11 17.0 1
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 22
Net Punting 40
Net Kickoffs 44
Touchback Pct 53
Field Goal Pct 7
Kick Returns Avg 118
Punt Returns Avg 7

9. Find a kick returner

Because of an awesome kicker and solid punt returning from Lee Butler, Duke was able to generate a decent field position advantage through special teams. But the kick returns were atrocious, and Butler's now gone. The kicking and punting are in decent hands, but surely there's somebody who can at least average 22-23 yards per kick return, right? (And with this team, kick returns are more important than punt returns, if you catch my drift.)

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug N.C. Central NR
7-Sep at Memphis 116
14-Sep Georgia Tech 32
21-Sep Pittsburgh 35
28-Sep Troy 95
12-Oct Navy 87
19-Oct at Virginia 71
26-Oct at Virginia Tech 23
9-Nov N.C. State 61
16-Nov Miami 25
23-Nov at Wake Forest 81
30-Nov at North Carolina 29
Five-Year F/+ Rk 86
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 67
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* +2 / +0.8
TO Luck/Game 0.5
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 15 (7, 8)
Yds/Pt Margin** -0.1

10. Start hot

The goal for Duke is, and will always be, finding the sixth win. Cutcliffe has improved both recruiting and performance, but unless he finds a batch of major diamonds in the rough, the ceiling is six.

Okay, so where are this year's six? N.C. Central and Memphis, certainly. Troy and Navy are quite beatable. That's four. But the best opportunities for two more wins probably come in September, when Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh visit. Both the Yellow Jackets and Panthers get pretty friendly projections in the Football Outsiders Almanac 2013, but if Duke can build some confidence early, and if the new pieces on offense can gel pretty quickly, the Blue Devils could ride a hot start back to bowl eligibility. And if they slip up, they still have N.C. State and Miami at home later on, along with a less-than-intimidating trip to Wake Forest.

Still, as always, the margin for error is minimal. The Blue Devils still work with less raw talent than anybody in the conference not named Wake, and they still have no choice but to take most of their close games.

The good news is that last season doesn't have to be a one-off. The bad news is that Duke still wasn't very good last season. Cutcliffe has done an incredible job just to get Duke to this level. They're probably not taking another step up any time soon.

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