In our newest installment of Georgia Tech football 2019 opponent rundowns, we take a look at another ACC Coastal foe, the Duke Blue Devils.
On October 12th, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will face Duke Blue Devils in Durham, North Carolina. Last season, the two teams met on October 13th, with the Blue Devils taking down the Yellow Jackets 28-14 at Bobby Dodd Stadium
In 2019, the Blue Devils will look for their third straight winning season after going 8-5 in 2018 including a bowl victory over Temple in the Independence Bowl by a final score of 56-27. That being said, the Blue Devils have a tough challenge ahead of them in replacing several key parts of both their offense and defense heading into 2019. However, if there’s any coach in the ACC that can overcome such challenges, it would be Duke head coach David Cutcliffe who continues to show he’s one of the best coaches in all of college football.
The biggest challenge will be replacing quarterback Daniel Jones who started the last three seasons for the Blue Devils is now in the NFL after being the second overall pick in this past NFL Draft. This season, they’ll be handing the keys to the offense redshirt senior Quentin Harris. Harris has gained some experience through his first four years on campus which should definitely help Harris in his first and only season as the starter in Durham. Through his career, he’s played in 23 games, completing 41 passing attempts out of 81 for 510-yards, eight touchdowns, and just one interception. While the completion percentage numbers aren’t there, he has been able to get production out of those he has completed so far in his career. Harris has also shown the ability to run the ball on the ground though he will only pick up 3-5 yards at a time, not much more should Theybe expected on the ground out of Harris.
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The Blue Devils will return experience in one skill position, that being at running back. The main guy in the backfield will be junior Deon Jackson. As a sophomore, Jackson had a strong season, picking up 1,100 total yards and scoring nine touchdowns after having only 101 yards as a true freshman. He’s an all-purpose style back which should help him become the major focus of the Blue Devils offense. He’ll be the lead guy in the backfield for the Blue Devils in 2019. He’ll be splitting his carries in the backfield with Brittain Brown, another junior running back. Brown last season had 413 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns.
While they return experience at running back, they will have to replace a ton of talent at wide receiver. Each of the Blue Devils top three wide receivers from last season are gone now which means the Blue Devils have lost 157 receptions, 1,834-yards, and 16 touchdowns. Simply a ton of talent that needs to be replaced. They also lost senior tight end Daniel Helm who had 26 receptions for 271-yards and two touchdowns.
The Blue Devils top receiving threats this upcoming season will be sophomore wide receiver Jake Bobo, senior wide receiver Aaron Young, and junior tight end Noah Gray. Gray has the highest production from last season with 20 receptions for 234-yards and one touchdown. Bobo had 10 receptions for 167-yards and a score while Young had seven receptions for 139-yards and one touchdown. Beyond those three, the Blue Devils will need to find to their depth at the wide receiver and tight end position. The combination of a first-year starter and a lack of experience at the receiving positions will create an interesting dynamic early on for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils offensive line last year was a little below-average, allowing 2.3 sacks per game (30 on the season) while the Blue Devils only rushed for 159.6 yards per game. The offensive line does have plenty of experience returning which should help them improve on their numbers, a strong offensive line will be highly important in Duke’s offensive success in 2019 especially with a lack of experience at quarterback and the receiving positions.
Defensively, the Blue Devils need to replace a ton of production and talent as well. Which is not good news for a Duke team whose defense struggled throughout last season. The Blue Devils ended up losing their three of their top tacklers from last season including star linebacker Joe Giles-Harris who finished last season with 81 tackles including seen tackles for a loss. They also lost linebacker Ben Humphreys who had 67 tackles as a senior including 6.5 tackles for a loss.
With the losses of Giles-Harris and Humphreys, the linebacker position will be a lot like the Blue Devils receiving positions. Young and a lack of experience that will definitely need a few weeks to find themselves early in the season for the Blue Devils to have any success on defense in 2019.
Junior defensive end Victor Dimukeje will be looked upon to be one of the Blue Devils leaders on the defense and will be looked upon as Duke’s top defensive lineman. Last season he had 41 receptions including 8.0 tackles for a loss, and 3.5 sacks. If the Blue Devils defense is going to improve, Dimukeje will be one of the biggest reasons why. Sophomore defensive end Chris Rumph II will also be expected to step up his game in 2019 after having a freshman All-American season of 25 tackles including eight for a loss and three sacks. They’ll be the big men to watch on the Blue Devils defensive line.
The one place the Blue Devils have experience in on defense in 2019 will be their secondary. Among notable names in the secondary is sophomore Marquis Waters who had 68 tackles and one interception over 13 games. Additionally, sophomore safety Leonard Johnson returns who had 59 tackles, two sacks, and one touchdown. The Blue Devils allowed less than 200-yards through the air last season and should be strong in the pass defense once again in 2019.
On special teams, Deon Jackson and Brittain Brown will most likely be the Blue Devils main kickoff returns while Jake Bobo has a chance to take over the starting punt returning duties in 2019. When it comes to kickoffs, punts, and place kicking, it sounds like redshirt senior Austin Parker will be the Blue Devils “Mr. Do It All” in 2019.
What to expect on October 12th:
On October 12th, these two teams should provide a good game. While Duke has had more continuous success as of late, the two teams are in similar situations. Both teams you could say are in “rebuilding” states. Overall, it should be a competitive game and is truly a toss up game.
Duke Season Outlook:
Duke 2019 schedule will be tough and going for another winning season won’t be easy. The Blue Devils start their season off against Alabama in what will certainly be a loss and probably a huge win at that. Games against Miami, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Virginia also seem like games that the Blue Devils will be underdogs in. The only two games that the Blue Devils should be certain victors in are against Middle Tennessee and North Carolina AT&T. They then have four toss up games in our opinion against Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech.