1. Jeremy Cash, JUNIOR, SAFETY
Last Week: 5
While the Duke defense was considered the bigger of the two unit question marks heading into the season, there was little doubt as to one of the leaders. Against Tulane, Cash was clearly the top player on the field as the safety made plays in the defensive backfield, at the line, and even shot through the holes to stop Tulane players behind the line as well. He assisted or recorded a number of key tackles on third and fourth down as well. Cash enters this week’s game ranked second among active ACC players in total tackles per game at 8.67. The mark is good for ninth among all active FBS players.
2. Jamison Crowder, SENIOR, RECEIVER
The drops continued against Tulane as Crowder mishandled another three balls on the afternoon. Two of which seemed exceedingly catchable. Still, after a quiet game against Kansas, the senior captain returned with a vengeance to post six catches for 119 yards against the Green Wave. Duke will need more of that as the second season behins with the start of ACC play. Crowder’s 220 career catches currently rates fifth all-time in conference history.
3. David Helton, SENIOR, LINEBACKER
Last Week: 3
Helton recorded his third-straight game with double-digit tackles last Saturday versus Tulane, tying for the team lead with 11 stops. It was his seventh career game with 10 or more tackles. He currently ranks third in the ACC in tackles per game, averaging 10.5 per contest.
4. Anthony Boone, SENIOR, QUARTERBACK
Last Week: 2
Boone had been steady leading into the game against Tulane, but things began to unravel a bit against the Green Wave. The senior threw his first interception (his first in 125 attempts), which was going to happen eventually, but there were several misreads and poor throws that probably should have resulted in another two or three picks. We can’t drop him too far based on one subpar game (though it’s fair to say Boone has struggled before last week at times as well), and it’s important to note that he’s 14-0 as a regular season starter at Duke. .
5. Shaun Wilson, FRESHMAN, RUNNING BACK
Last Week: 7
Josh Snead and Shaquille Powell may be stronger backs, but Wilson’s speed and vision have combined to make him easily the most explosive, and perhaps, the best back on the roster. If not, then certainly the most effective through four games. Wilson enters this week’s game leading all FBS players in yards per carry with a 14.43 mark. We’re interested to see how he does against better competition, and were it not for the fumble last week there’s a real possibility that the electric freshman would have been even higher.
6. Laken Tomlinson, SENIOR, OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
Last Week: 6
Tomlinson is tied for the longest current streak of consecutive games started among active NCAA FBS linemen. He also owns the second-most snaps played among the group, trailing only Marshall’s Chris Jasperse. The Blue Devils have allowed just three sacks for 19 lost yards lost this season. The total is tied for the 16th fewest sacks per game surrendered by FBS programs, and it starts with the line’s unquestioned leader.
7. Ross Martin, JUNIOR, KICKER
Last Week: 8
When drives have stalled and Duke needed points, their kicker has been perfect on the season. With nine points against Tulane, junior kicker Ross Martin surpassed Clarkston Hines (1986-89/234) and Sims Lenhardt (1996-99/240) to set the all-time Duke points record with 243. He has at least one point in 31 straight games.
8. Will Monday, JUNIOR, PUNTER
Lask Week: 9
Similarly, Duke may have the best punter in college football, one who gains them nearly half a football field every time he’s called upon to give up possession. Monday enters the week as the ACC’s active leader in punting average (43.49) and is 10th on the ACC career punting average chart. Against Tulane he unleashed a 60+ yard bomb that resulted in a Green Wave turnover and drew an audible reaction from the entire stadium once it left his right foot. That’s rare.
9. 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 stands second on the team with 36 total tackles, owns a squad-high four pass breakups and has a team second-best 19 solo hits. He’s seventh in the league in tackles per game (9.0) and tied for fifth in pass breakups per game (1.25). Throw in his previously mentioned prowess in the return game, and Duke found themselves quite the sleeper recruit three seasons back.
10. Max McCaffrey, JUNIOR, WIDE RECEIVER
Last Week: NR
While Crowder is the star and Issac Blakeney (who falls out of the top 10 this week) may be the primary red zone target, McCaffrey is the pressure release valve that allows the Blue Devil offense to continue motoring down the field. After recording 26 catches for 282 yards a season ago, he has already recorded 20 catches for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2014. If Boone gets back on track with his throws (McCaffrey was the target of the overthrown interception), look for McCaffrey to continue his best year in Durham.