Devils Den publisher John Watson helps us get prepared for Saturday's ACC opener against Duke with a Q&A.
How would you describe Daniel Jones' play at quarterback, and will he be the running threat that we were used to seeing from Thomas Sirk?
Watson: "Jones is a more similar to former Blue Devil QB Sean Renfree. Sirk is a better runner, but Jones may be a more complete passer, capable of making a wider variety of throws - especially down field. That’s not to say that Jones can’t run - he can and will when the moments present themselves (and he did in the opener against NC Central). Still, with a guy like Parker Boehme behind him, you wonder if Duke won’t call fewer designed running plays for Jones."
What impressed you most about the opening week victory over North Carolina Central?
Watson: "It’s hard to really say. Duke played very well in the first half and the first teamers were on another planet talent-wise against NC Central so it’s hard to really gauge where things are. The coaches weren’t very pleased with the inconsistency they saw after halftime, but that’s another story. Overall, I’d say the the most impressive thing was that the Blue Devils went out and put the game away early and avoided injury, etc. I’d also point to the defensive line getting regular pressure on the opponents which seemed to verify the impact that new DL coach Ben Albert has had."
What newcomer to the Duke defensive rotation will have the biggest impact this season?
Watson: "Ben Humphreys at MLB. He started the last two games of the season last year, but he’s now established himself as the full time option as a true sophomore and he’s the captain/signal caller of the front six at least, if not the entire defense. He’s a former Scout 300 guy who has come in and made an impact from day one."
Are there any concerns over the relative inexperience in the Duke front seven?
Watson: "Not really. Duke has recruited some good players to fill those positions in the last few years, and the younger guys are pushing some of the mid-eligibility guys. When you add in the addition of the new defensive line coach, the expectation seems to be that Duke will be much better up front - especially in the trenches - this year."
Watson: "Wake Forest and Duke seem to always test one another. And while I think it’s fair to say that Duke looked better in Week One, there’s no reason this rivalry won’t continue to produce close game. That being said, this is a must win for Duke and at home. I’d say it’s close, but Duke wins by around 30-21 or so."