Duke will travel to Stanford Stadium to face Pac-12 foe the Stanford Cardinal in early September, the teams played last year in Durham with the Cardinal winning 44-14. Photo Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Know the Opponent: Duke Blue Devils

Today’s know the opponent is the Duke Blue Devils of the Atlantic Coast Conference who went 3-9 and 1-7 in conference last season. David Cutcliffe returns for his fifth season in Durham with a record of 15-33 overall he’s 59-62 (had success at Ole’ Miss before).

The Blue Devils will travel out west to face the Stanford Cardinal on September 8 at Stanford Stadium, the teams played last year at Duke with the Cardinal winning 44-14. In 2011, Cutcliffe’s team started 3-2 after the first five weeks before losing the last seven games. Four of the losses came by 10 points or less during the losing streak.

Red-shirt senior Sean Renfree seems to be the guy who’ll get the first crack at being the starting QB this season. Last year he threw for 2,891 starting 12-games with 14 touchdowns but did have 11 interceptions. Another number that sticks out is that he had a 65% completion percentage, averaged 240.9 yards a game so he’s benefitted playing under Cutcliffe whose claim is developing Peyton and Eli Manning at Tennessee then Mississippi.

Duke was more or less a team that produced most of their offense through the air but they will return junior Juwan Thompson. During his sophomore campaign he rushed for 457 net yards, seven TD’s starting every game. Senior Desmond Scott also returns, he played in nine games and was second on the team with 367 yards, 5.1 yards per carry with two touchdowns.

Renfree and the passing game will also be helped with the return of leading receiver Conner Vernon. Last season Vernon had 956 yards, six touchdowns averaging 13.7 yards per catch. Scott and Thompson will be threats their ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

On defense the Blue Devils will need to replace Matt Daniels who led the team in tackles, interceptions and was second in forced fumbles. Senior safety Walt Canty will lead the defense since he had 87 tackles, one INT and forced three fumbles. Junior Kelby Brown also returns and in 2011 had 65 tackles.

Offensively the team should score points but it will be how the defense plays in determining if they can turn heads in the ACC this season. Cutcliffe has the program in the right direction from where it was before he arrived in Durham.

2012 Duke Blue Devils Schedule –

Florida International 9/1
@Stanford 9/8
North Carolina Central 9/15
Memphis 9/22
@Wake Forest 9/29
Virginia 10/6
@Virginia Tech 10/13
North Carolina 10/20
@Florida State 10/27
Clemson 11/3
@Georgia Tech 11/17
Miami (FL) 11/24

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