Week Four's Top 10

The running game and the defensive line are both improving by leaps and bounds as Duke prepares to finish the non-conference portion of the schedule.

1. Jamison Crowder, SENIOR, RECEIVER
Last: 1

The game against Kansas taught us that Duke’s depth has grown to the point that Crowder could be a relative non-factor (just two catches), and the Blue Devils can still play extraordinarily well. Look for the Duke captain to move forward and regain his production against Tulane. He enters the week with a total of 214 career catches, good enough for sixth all-time in ACC history, and just 69 short of Conner Vernon’s all-time mark.

Last Week: 2

Boone remains undefeated as a regular season starter at Duke. He’s also guided the once depressed program to 11 consecutive regular season wins. Boone owns the highest winning percentage in program history for a starting quarterback at .867. The senior quarterback has also been mistake free for the most part this season. The Blue Devils are one of 17 FBS teams without an interception thrown, and Boone has gone 106 consecutive passes without tossing a pick, the second-longest streak without throwing an interception to start a year in program history.

Last Week: 4

He’s learned his position on the fly and has regained his all-ACC form in terms of production. Helton recorded his second-straight game with double-digit tackles last Saturday versus Kansas, booking a team second-best 11. It was his sixth career game with 10 or more tackles.

“David Helton has been able to step in the middle and be a steady performer, while calming the things around him at the same time,” said Coach Cutcliffe. “Sometimes when players start focusing on other players, they lose their own effectiveness. David’s done a great job of being the best player he can be, but at the same time, being aware of being a mentor. I think that’s one of the good stories there is on our team, that David Helton has stepped up in such a big way after losing a player as dynamic as Kelby Brown. When I say dynamic, Kelby Brown is a dynamic, big time football player. That was a big role that had to be taken, not only by our coaches, it had to be a player that stepped up, and David Helton has done that.”

Also of note is Helton’s production against the run where the senior has recorded 27 stops on opponents’ rushes.

4. Issac Blakeney, SENIOR, WIDE RECEIVER
Last Week: 3

Blakeney continues to be a matchup problem on the outside for opponents and he’s having the best season of his career. Overall this year, Blakeney has caught 13 passes for 173 yards after finishing the 2013 campaign with 19 receptions for 244 yards. Not only has he been a target in the red zone, the senior has also been a pressure release valve when Duke needs a conversation. Blakeney has caught all five passes thrown to him on third down and converted each into first downs. Blakeney is tied for eighth in the country with five receiving first downs on third-down passes, only one off the seven-way tie for the national lead.

5. Jeremy Cash, JUNIOR, SAFETY
Last Week: 5

Cash enters this week’s game as the leading active ACC player in total tackles per game at 8.53. The mark is good for 10th among all active FBS players. He’s the unquestioned leader in the secondary and has helped Duke’s defense morph into a much improved unit from a season ago as the Blue Devils have allowed just six points in the last six quarters of play.

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. Opponents have gotten to Duke signal callers just twice in three games for a total of nine yards, and on the ground the Blue Devil backs are finding holes all over the line of scrimmage. Laken’s line has surrendered just six negative plays through the first three games of the 2014 season. The mark is tied with Western Michigan for the best among all FBS programs.

6. Devon Edwards, SOPHOMORE, SAFETY
Last Week: 6

He’s a danger in the return game and he’s also been flying around the defensive backfield as well. Edwards enters week three standing second on the team with 28 total tackles, a squad-high 15 solo stops and three pass breakups. He also recorded his first interception of the year against Kansas. Edwards is also one of three players in the entire ACC to have forced three fumbles on the year.

Last Week: NR

It’ll remain a stable mentality with Duke playing four backs most every game, but there’s little doubt as to which of the four players is the most explosive for the Blue Devils after Wilson set the program’s single game rushing record on just 12 carries against Kansas. Wilson tallied three touchdowns on runs of 45, 68 and 69 yards last week, and now ranks 22nd among in the FBS with a 111.33 yards per game average. Will it continue? That’s hard to say, but Duke’s coaching staff has indicated they will do all they can to review and tweak the way Wilson is utilized (i.e. finding a larger role).

8. Ross Martin, JUNIOR, KICKER
Last Week: 10

Martin continues to be automatic when called upon to put put points on the board at the end of stalled drives. By booting home a pair of conversions last week, Martin has now hit 38 field goals, good enough for third in program history. He also converted all five extra points against Kan- sas. He has made 76 consecutive PAT attempts, the second longest streak in Duke history.

9. Will Monday, JUNIOR, PUNTER
Lask Week: 9

Good teams will win the special teams battle, and Duke appears poised to win that area of the game on a weekly basis. With Martin converting every opportunity he sees, Monday is matching that level of performance. Monday enters this week as the ACC’s active leader in career punting average (43.33) and checks in 10th in career punting average among league kickers. In addition it’s worth noting that Monday has made a habit of pinning opponents on each of his kicks. Through three games the Blue Devils have not allowed a punt return all season as all 11 of redshirt junior Will Monday’s punts have been downed or out of bounds (five), fair caught (four) or touchbacks (two).

Lask Week: NR

It’s still the biggest collective question mark on the roster, but you have to tip your cap to the front four and the job they’ve done to date. Teams are being jammed at the line of scrimmage, and Duke has been able to get off the field more and more frequently. Duke has recorded 12.0 tackles for lost yardage (-57 yards lost) this season. The defensive line unit has recorded 6.5 of those stops with DeWalt-Ondijo (2.0-19), junior DT Carlos Wray (1.0-9), Johnson (1.0-4), Jones (1.0-7) and Bruce (1.5-5).

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