In this series we will look at the Black Knights football opponents for the 2016 season. Today the school we are looking at is Duke.
Date/time/location/TV: October 8, Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C., Time and TV TBA.
2015 Record: 8-5 (4-4 ACC). Beat Indiana 44-41 in Pinstripe Bowl
Head Coach: Dave Cutcliffe. Ninth year at Duke (48-53).
Series History: Early last fall the Blue Devils blew out the Black Knights at Michie Stadium. Army was mistake prone throughout the game as Duke won 44-3.
Last Meeting: Army beat Buffalo in the opening game of the 2014 season. It was the first game of the Jeff Monken coaching era and the Black Knights won the game 47-39 in West Point.
Top Returners: QB Thomas Sirk (Sr.) 2,625 yards passing and 16 passing TDs, 860 yards rushing and 8 rushing TDs. CB DeVon Edwards (Sr.) 75.5 tackles, 2 TFLs and 1 sack.
Key Losses: WR Max McCaffrey and WR Johnell Barnes, combined for 86 catches in 2015. C Matt Skura (First-Team All-ACC) and LG Lucas Patrick, combined for 66 career starts. WLB Dwayne Norman, 88.5 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, and 1 sack. S Jeremy Cash, 79 tackles, 18 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks.
What You Need To Know: Coming into the season the Blue Devils seemed to have one certainty on offense and that was the play of dual-threat quarterback Thomas Sirk. Then, in February, Sirk went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon in his left foot and his six month rehab threw the Blue Devils preparations into serious doubt.
Sirk enters fall camp still limited in practice, but his recovery has been strong enough that the coaching staff is working with the expectation he will start from day one in 2016. Duke needs Sirk to be the all everything quarterback he was in 2015, because the skill position guys on the roster don't scare anyone at this point.
It is not like Duke lost a lot from offense due to graduation, it is more that the Duke unit is a grinding one that will wear you down over the course of a game. There are however plenty of good athletes in the underclasses and if a couple of those guys can break through then the offense will be better for it.
Defensively the Blue Devils have to find a pass rusher. The secondary was bad in 2015, but with the caveat that there was no pass rush at all to slow the opposition down. The team produced just 17 sacks in 2015, with no threat from either the DE or OLB positions. This is another spot where someone has to step up and be counted on to routinely rush the passer and help slow the opposition down.
2015 Stats That Matter: Defensive points per game 47th; Offensive points per game 48th.
Fun Fact: Getting a ticket to the Duke vs. North Carolina basketball game requires spending one to two months camping out in a temporary tent city on campus to be at the front of the line.
Famous Alumni: Richard Nixon (37th US President), Adam Silver (NBA Commissioner), Melinda Gates (Philanthropist).