1. Jamison Crowder, SENIOR, RECEIVER
Two games down and neither team has boasted the personnel to slow down the ACC’s top producing wide receiver. While he’s not Duke’s primary red zone target any longer, he is the team’s most dangerous offensive threat. He needs just five more catches to take over the no. 5 spot on the all-time ACC list. That’ll happen against Kansas.
2. Anthony Boone, SENIOR, QUARTERBACK
Last Week: 3
Boone remains undefeated as a regular season starter at Duke. He’s also guided the once depressed program to 10 consecutive regular season wins. There were a number of former Duke signal callers who didn’t log half that many wins for their career. You don’t achieve and maintain that level of success without some evolution in your skill set, and Boone is better than ever this season.
“His command of the ball has continued to get better, so he’s putting it where he wants to put it,” said Cutcliffe of his signal caller. “I think his knowledge of what we’re doing has just been increasing steadily all along, and I think Coach (Scottie) Montgomery has done a great job of emphasizing discipline at that position.”
3. Issac Blakeney, SENIOR, WIDE RECEIVER
Last Week: 9
Duke needed a big target in the redzone after Braxton Deaver was lost for the year and that guy is Issac Blakeney who leads the conference in touchdown receptions after two games. He’s played a number of positions at Duke, but the Blue Devils seem to have found the right fit during his final season.
“I think he’s a work-in-progress, in that regard,” said Cutcliffe. “I think he has to continue to mature. That’s a maturity thing. Issac is so gifted. He makes everything he does look so easy, even to himself. I certainly think that he has seen Jamison (Crowder) work. Not the product we see on Saturday. I think he’s seen Jamison work enough now to realize that that hard work produces good results and hopefully that is something we’re going to take even another step with him.”
4. David Helton, SENIOR, LINEBACKER
Last Week: 5
After a somewhat shaky week one, Helton seemed to settle into his new position a bit more against Troy and was seen constantly being aggressive from the middle linebacker slot. It resulted in an impressive 15 tackle performance (including seven solo stops) against Troy. The defining play, however, came when Helton helped stop Jordan Chunn for a one-yard loss and Duke marched 40 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and never trailed again. It was the point where the game changed and it was generated by Duke’s starting MLB…just not the one everyone expected. The athleticism level of the opponents will increase this week with Big 12 opponent Kansas, which will be an interesting test.
5. Jeremy Cash, JUNIOR, SAFETY
Last Week: 5
During six non-conference games last season, Cash was one of the Blue Devils’ most valuable defensive players, booking 44 tackles and a team-high 6.5 hits for lost yardage. He has continued his strong non-league action during the first two games of the season, booking 12 hits, one pass breakup and two tackles for lost yardage. He also recorded a pass breakup. Cash enters this week’s game as the leading active ACC player in total tackles per game at 8.31. The mark is good for seventh among all FBS players.
6. Laken Tomlinson, SENIOR, OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
Last Week: 2
The offensive line continues to protect their signal caller and open holes in the opposing lines for the running backs and much of that credit goes to Tomlinson. However, against Troy, the captain was called for a pair of false start penalties. It’s a small ding in the armor, but was illustrative of Duke’s start to the game as the Blue Devils fell behind 14-3 in the opening 15 minutes.
6. Devon Edwards, SOPHOMORE, SAFETY
Last Week: 9
After spending the season opener flying around the defensive side of the ball and leading the team in tackles, Edwards mixed in some brilliance in the return game as well against Troy. Edwards tallied Duke’s only kickoff return last Saturday at Troy, running a third quarter kickoff 61 yards. A year ago, Edwards finished third among FBS players with 30.2 yards per kickoff return.
6. JOSH SNEAD, SENIOR, RUNNING BACK AND
Shaquille Powell, RUNNING BACK, JUNIOR
Last Week: NR
Snead and Shaquille Powell shared the top two spots on the depth chart, and are bolstered by freshman speedster Shaun Wilson. The pair have been virtually identical in production this season, tied for attempts (22), nearly in yards (106 and 100), and yards per carry (4.8 and 4.5). Neither player has factored in as much around the goal line as Duke has relied primarily on the quarterbacks for that area of the field. Despite not having an individual rank higher than 15th in the ACC in rushing yards per game, Duke’s group of backs collectively owns the fourth-best yards per game average in the league at 228.50.
7. Thomas Sirk, SOPHOMORE, QUARTERBACK
Lask Week: 7
When Duke gets down into the scoring zone, there’s a good chance defenses will be keying in on No. 1. Thomas Sirk has accounted for three touchdowns in this season’s two games, and has shown the ability to beat teams with his legs and his arm - at least in the limited opportunities we’ve seen so far. The jump pass touchdown against Troy was executed perfectly.
9. Will Monday, JUNIOR, PUNTER
Lask Week: NR
Good teams will win the special teams battle, and Duke appears poised to win that area of the game on a weekly basis. The Blue Devils have not allowed a punt return all season as all six of redshirt junior Will Monday’s punts have been downed (two), fair caught (two) or touchbacks (two). It’s a testament to the punt coverage and the ability of Monday to place the ball and keep it aloft long enough to allow his teammates to cover. Monday enters this week as the ACC’s active leader in career punting average (43.53) and checks in 10th in career punting average among league kickers.
10. Ross Martin, JUNIOR, KICKER
Last Week: 10
With Monday pinning opponents downfield being one part of the special teams attack, Martin has been just as good in putting points on the board. With two field goals at Troy last Saturday, Martin upped his career total to 36 field goals. He is now tied with Tom Cochran (1993-95) for the fourth most in program history. Martin has scored at least one point in 29 straight games.