A Statistical Who Done It

With three games gone, the Blue Devils head into the second quarter of the season with a number of questions to be answered. TDD looks back through the first three games and provides a look at some of the more interesting statistical notes to determine which players are figuring in Duke's season so far.

Through three games the Blue Devils have shown signs of pushing the program forward (see the second half rally against Army and early performance against Kansas). On the flip side they have been some less than stellar moments (the loss to Richmond, the span of five straight scoring drives for the Jayhawks). It all adds up to a 1-2 overall record achieved by a variety of players.

First Snaps Of Their Careers:
So far the Blue Devils have played a number of first timers. True freshmen who have already played (and bypassed a redshirt year) include:

Snaps Played in ()'s

Clearly the Duke coaching staff was not overly satisfied with the projected depth at linebacker and wide receiver heading into the season which is why true freshmen have accounted for a high percentage of the snaps at both positions. Another true freshman, RB Desmond Scott, will be taking off his redshirt this weekend when he sees action against North Carolina Central meaning the Blue Devils will have played eight of their 27 recruited commitments of a season ago.

Notable is the Blue Devil three star (or higher) rated recruits who have not seen action this year:

Of those players who spent 2008 redshirting, several have seen heavy game action led by OG Brian Moore with a class high 215 snaps. Of the 11 second year freshmen, all but OT Conner Irwin and CB Randez James have recorded game time this season. This includes K Paul Asack who has been on the field twice.

Fresh Starters:
With so many new faces seeing so many snaps, it stands to reason that Duke will have a number of players making their first career starts throughout the season. So far that list includes LB Tyree Glover, K Will Snyderwine, OT Jarrod Holt, LB Abraham Kromah, OG Mitchell Lederman, OG Brian Moore, and LB Damian Thornton.

Of those new starters, Holt has appeared in the most games at 33. Lederman is next with 26 total appearances. Thornton and Kromah each have 24.

Experienced Veterans:
While the roster is trending heavily towards the younger players, several upperclassmen have been on the field enough to provide guidance. Through the first three games no player has been on the field more than S Catron Gainey (259). Fellow safety Matt Daniels has recorded 245 plays, while LB Vincent Rey has seen 236 snaps to date.

Short On Depth On The O-Line
The senior man on the offensive line is left tackle Kyle Hill with 225 snaps. Bryan Morgan and Brian Moore are just 10 snaps behind. However, the remaining two spots on the line have seen a significant substitution pattern with Holt logging just 197 snaps at right tackle and Lederman getting 125 at left guard. Lederman's extra snaps appear to be gobbled up by Brandon Harper who seems to have a home (finally) at offensive guard. Reserve tackle Jon Needham has come in 26 times.

The line took a hit with the departure of Pontus Bondeson who had figured into the two-deep early on in the season. Because of that, Duke has logged the following numbers from reserve linemen eligible (i.e. not redshirting) to play this season:

Notable here is that Shannon recorded 124 snaps a season ago, but has apparently fallen off the depth chart this season despite the relative lack of depth. In total it would appear as though Duke is utilizing just seven offensive linemen through three games. Contrast that with their counterparts on the defensive line where nine players have seen significant time and it's easy to see why the off-season conditioning was apparently so important.

Quarterback Controversy Or Not?
Head coach David Cutcliffe's loyalty to quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is well documented. As is the program's desire to avoid any perceived slight of the four year starter. Still, through three games the Blue Devils have handed the reigns to freshman Sean Renfree 53 times while Lewis has been under center for 163 snaps. It's not clear at what statistical point this officially becomes a "two quarterback system", but for now it would appear that Cutcliffe is correct in saying that Renfree is more relief pitcher than anything else, taking just 24.5% of the available snaps.

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