What we know: Duke will return 2-year starter Mike Schneider. He made some progress in 2004 season, doubling his yardage and touchdowns as well as cutting his interceptions in half. Still, he needs to cut down on his mental mistakes to become a truly reliable option for the Devils.
Curt Dukes will start the preseason as the backup, having spent the last two years at Duke after transferring from Nebraska. He is an NFL-caliber athlete and a dangerous weapon outside the pocket, but has not shown consistency when asked to throw. He also has shown a propensity to fumble when scrambling. If he can correct his fumbling issues, he is an asset for the Duke offense that needs to be on the field in some capacity, whether it be at QB, RB, or slotback.
What we don't know: Duke will have two well-regarded QB prospects coming to Durham this fall, as part of a stellar recruiting class (stellar in relation to Duke's recent history). Gene Delle Donne is a classic dropback style passer with great size and arm. He also can run when necessary, but would prefer to throw from the pocket. Zack Asack is a dual-threat QB, who has wide receiver type speed and can throw as well. He is not as polished as Delle Donne, but can really hurt a defense when moving from the pocket.
Wildcard: Duke actually has 3 quarterbacks coming in this fall, the third being highly touted athlete Marcus Jones. While he initially will line up at wide receiver, he might get a shot to see what he can do under center. Much like Dukes, Jones an extremely talented athlete that will be difficult to keep off the field. The Duke offense seems to be in perpetual need of playmakers, and Jones definitely fills this bill.
What will happen in 2005: Schneider will start preseason as the number one signal caller and hold on to it throughout the season. Either Delle Donne or Asack will show enough to grab hold of the second position on the depth chart, and Dukes will play in a "slash" role running, receiving and throwing the ball. Meanwhile, Jones will take a few snaps to see what he can do, but will end up outside at receiver, where he will be able to make plays in the passing game.
One of the biggest question marks for the Devils this coming season is offensive line play. If the line struggles to protect the QB, that might force the Devils to give the mobile guys like Dukes, Asack, or Jones a chance to buy time for the passing game. If the line does hold up, the pocket passers (Schneider and Delle Donne) will probably see the most time. Expect Schneider to be under center for all of the 2005 season.