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Week 4's Top 10: Duke v. Georgia Tech

The Blue Devils will look to move to 3-1 on the season when they face off against Georgia Tech on Saturday in the new Wallace Wade Stadium. Here's our updated Top 10 list of the most crucial and best performing players for Duke heading into the season's fourth game.

1. Jeremy Cash, SENIOR, SAFETY
Last Week: 1

Cash certainly came to play in Duke's biggest challenge of the season.  He accounted for 3.5 tackles for loss against Northwestern and made a number of big plays to key a great defensive effort agasint the Wildcats.  With the run-heavy Yellow Jackets coming into town Cash will need to continue his strong play if the Blue Devils are to pull the upset.  

2. Devon Edwards, SOPHOMORE, SAFETY

Last Week: 3

Against the run-heavy offense of Northwestern the safeties were extremely busy and productive, and will likely remain so this weekend against Georgia Tech.  Edwards was heavily involved last week, scoring 11 stops on the afternoon.  It was the seventh time in the last 10 games he had recoded 10 or more tackles.  Factor in what he brings to the return game and you have a player who derserves to be bumped in our weekly ratings.

3. Breon Borders, JUNIOR, CORNERBACK 
Last Week: 6

Borders continues to assert his presence in both the pass and run game.  He is not only charged with matching up up against the opposition's best receiver, he's also been productive in recording tackles, logging 14 through three games.  A season ago he recorded a career best seven tackles against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta.

4. Shaquille Powell, SENIOR, RUNNING BACK
Last: NR

Powell's play against Northwestern was what you've come to expect from the senior.  He ran hard and earned tough yards and managed to get into the open field a few times.  He also was very strong with his blocking assignments and receiving the ball out of the backfield.   He'll get some help with the inside running game with the return of Jela Duncan this week as well.  


Last Week: 2

Sirk had been very, very strong in the opening weeks against Tulane and NC Central.  However, the Northwestern defense represented the biggest challenge of his career.  That step up in competition resulted in Sirk becomming a bit too conservative throughout the afternoon, preferring dump offs and screens instead of waiting of plays to develop.  Some of that was on the receivers, some of it was the ability of the Northwestern defense, and some of it was inexperience.    This weekend, Duke needs a better performance from Sirk in order to sustain drives and give the defense a break against the option attack.

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

Martin has set four program records thus far and has been his usual, steady self.  He has 340 career points, which is sixth all-time.  He's converted at least one point in 42 straight games and has been a perfect 6-for-6 in field goals this year.   

7. Will Monday, JUNIOR, PUNTER 
Lask Week: 7

Monday logged a career high 11 punts a week ago against the Wildcats including a number of huge kicks - the best being a season long 71-yard bomb to end the first half.  However, he also had trouble pinning his opponents against the 'Cats, at least more than he'd had during the first two weeks.  Still, he showed a tremendous amount of power, with eight of his 11 kicks sailing more than 50 yards.   He currently ranks second in the country in punting average at 49.9 yards per kick.

8. Zavier Carmichael, SOPHOMORE, LINEBACKER
Last Week: 9

After three games it's clear that Carmichael is quite comfortable as the team's starting middle linebacker.  He has 16 tackles to date, and is coming off a career high seven tackles against Northwestern.  As with the safeties, Carmichael and the other members of Duke's second line of defense are going to be tested completely by the triple-option.

Last Week: 8

Wolf has been extremely disruptive along the interior of the defensive line, often finding a way into the opposition's backfield in the passing game, and helping to clog lanes between the tackles.  Both he and Carlos Wray have provided the Duke defense a very different commentary than we saw a year ago.  No longer is Duke about bending but not breaking.  Now it's about getting stops early in drives and giving the ball back to Sirk and company. 

10. Johnell Barnes, JUNIOR, WIDE RECEIVER
Last: 5

He's the team's leading receiver with 14 catches on the season, but a week ago he and the rest of receivers were virtually shutout against Northwestern.   After Sirk missed Barnes on a post pattern in the first half, it seemed as though the junior became an afterthought as the Blue Devils were content to either run or find a quick dump off.  As noted with Sirk, some of that is on the signall caller and some of that is on the wide receivers.  Regardless, Duke needs Barnes and Sirk to get on the same page and to be aggressive in a game where the Blue Devils are going to need yards and points.

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