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Duke Preview 2006 - Offense
Duke Blue Devils
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 31, 2006


Duke Blue Devils Preview 2006 - Duke Blue Devil Offense

What you need to know ... For good and bad, only four starters return to the nation's second worst offense beating out Temple by one yard. It'll be a major youth movement with five sophomores and no seniors among the projected starters. There is hope for an improvement, especially for the woeful passing game, with Eron Riley and Jomar Wright, who returns from missing most of last year, upgrading the receiving corps, but there are only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster after starter Zack Asack got suspended. The ground game will be a problem for a while until the very young, very raw offensive line improves. Justin Boyle leads a not-that-bad backfield that'll need room to roam.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Zack Asack
90-180, 966 yds, 5 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Justin Boyle
134 carries, 459 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Eron Riley
11 catches, 247 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore WR Eron Riley
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Marcus Jones
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Cameron Goldberg
Best pro prospect: Sophomore OT Fred Roland
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Riley, 2)
RB Justin Boyle, 3) C Matt Rumsey
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line

Quarterbacks
Any improvement to the passing game will be a plus after finishing 115th in the nation averaging 121 yards per game, and dead last in passing efficiency. Zack Asack's work as a true freshman would've helped immeasurably coming into this season, but he was suspended due to plagiarism. He got to play against teams like Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami and Clemson and now should be more poised and more comfortable. Marcus Jones can run, but he has to improve as a passer. As far as developed quarterbacks go, that's it. Those were the only two scholarship quarterback this spring with incoming freshman Thaddeus Lewis to likely by the number three man this fall.
The key to the unit: Completion percentage. Duke quarterbacks hit their target a mere 47% of the time last season with 17 interceptions and only five touchdown passes.
Quarterback Rating: 5.5

Projected Starter
- Marcus Jones, Soph. - 2-7, 6 yds, 28%, 1 INT, 9 carries, 11 yds, 1.2 ypc, 11 catches, 90 yds, 8.2 ypc, 1 TD
A tremendous athlete, the 6-3, 210-pound sophomore can play either receiver or quarterback, but he'll only work under center this year. There's no question he can run the ball; now his accuracy has to improve.

Top Backup
- Zack Asack, Soph. - 90-180, 966 yds, 50%, 5 TD, 8 INT, 78 carries, 95 yds, 1.2 ypc, 2 TD
Asack was an interesting prospect who had the potential to be a weapon before getting suspended after getting nabbed for plagiarism. He's 6-4, 200-pounds, and was a Massachusetts high school champion sprinter. When nothing was working, Asack got the start over the second half of last year as a true freshman and got better as the season wore on.

Running Backs
If the Blue Devil backs get a little room, they won't be all that bad. Justin Boyle is a bruiser who needs to add more wiggle to his game, while Ronnie Drummer is an outside back who can break off the big play. Re'quan Boyette and Clifford Harris are decent do-it-all backs who'll add quality depth as the year goes on. Army transfer Tielor Robinson is a great power running fullback and a nice pickup for the program.
The key to the unit: The offensive line needs to provide more room for this groove to move, but quick backs like Ronnie Drummer and De'quan Boyette have to make their own plays as a complement to the steady Justin Boyle.
Running Back Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- Justin Boyle, Jr. - 134 carries, 459 yds, 3.4 ypc, 9 TD, 3 catches, 6 yds
While he has an 83-yard touchdown run on his résumé, the 225-pound junior is a power runner who's better at hitting a defender than going around him. He led the team in rushing last season despite seeing his workload decrease late in the year. He was great around the goal line and will be the short-yardage back, but now he has to figure out how to get into open space.

- Fullback Tielor Robinson, Jr.
Don't rule out the transfer from Army as a key ball-carrier. He's a strong 245 pounds and was a great blocking back for former Black Knight star Carlton Jones, but he also score seven times in his career with a five touchdown day against Cincinnati.  

Top Backups
- Ronnie Drummer, Jr. - 33 carries, 337 yds, 10.2 ypc, 2 TD, 7 catches, 19 yds, 2.7 ypc
Drummer is listed as something called a Devil Back, which is a fancy name for a do-it-all third down back. He's not all that big at 5-9 and 165 pounds, but he's the fastest player in the backfield with an 81-yard scoring dash against Miami and kickoff return for a score against East Carolina to his credit. Now he has to make more plays as a receiver and be even more of a home run threat.
- Re'quan Boyette, Soph. - 60 carries, 252 yds, 4.2 ypc, 1 TD, 7 catches, 14 yds
The 215-pound sophomore is a good runner inside and out. He got a little bit of experience over the final four games of last year highlighted by a 123-yard day against Florida State with a 78-yard touchdown dash, and now he'll be the number two tailback behind Justin Boyle. 
- Clifford Harris, Soph. - 21 carries, 75 yds, 3.6 ypc
A 220-pound runner with good upside, Harris saw a little bit of work in four game last season and will get every chance in fall practices to move up to the number two spot behind Justin Boyle. To do that, he has to show off a little of the flash of Re'quan Boyette. 
- Fullback B.J. Smith, Sr.

A special teamer so far, the 225-pound Smith will see a little bit of work behind Tielor Robinson. He's not nearly as physical as Robinson and isn't as big as redshirt freshman Peter Shaheen; he'll have to fight to hold on to the number two job.
- Fullback
Brandon King, Fr.
Ranked as one of the top fullback recruits in the nation, the 240-pound King was a shockingly huge get for the program. He's a powerful runner with the quickness to be a featured back for stretches.


Receivers
The top three receivers, two tight ends and Ronnie Elliott, are gone, but the situation should be better with the return of Jomar Wright from an injury and the emergence of dangerous big-play sophomore Eron Riley. If Deon Adams can finally stay healthy for a full season and if Raphael Chestnut can become a reliable number four receiver, this could be the best Blue Devil receiving corps in years. That's a big if considering all the inexperience. There's a big dip at tight end losing leading receiver Ben Patrick and Andy Roland, but Norman Gee is a good looking young player and Nick Stefanow should be a solid receiver.
The key to the unit: The wide receivers have to make more plays than last year's starters did. Tight ends Nick Stefanow and Norman Gee have to combine to be as good as Ben Patrick was.
Receiver Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- Eron Riley, Soph. - 11 catches, 247 yds, 22.5 ypc, 2 TD
Riley took off in the second half of his freshman year catching all his passes over the last six games. He's 6-3 and 200 pounds with enough speed to be the deep threat the team lacked throughout last season. He attacks the ball and showed big-play ability with a 66-yard touchdown against Clemson.

- Jomar Wright, Jr. - 8 catches, 155 yds, 19.4 ypc, 1 TD
Wright appeared to be on the verge of a big season as a big-play threat when he injured his leg against Navy in the fifth game of the year and didn't return. He was a great deep threat as a freshman
averaging 17.9 yards per catch on 18 grabs for 323 yards, and now that he's back, he should be one of the team's most dangerous offensive players.

- Tight end Nick Stefanow, Jr. - 3 catches, 20 yds, 6.7 ypc
Stefanow saw time in every game and made a few plays playing behind top receiver Ben Patrick. While he's not huge at 6-4 and 235 pounds, he's a nice route runner and is one of the team's strongest offensive players.

Top Backups
- Raphael Chestnut, Soph. - 2 catches, 12 yds
With good size and excellent speed, the 6-2, 175-pound sophomore will be a big part of the offense early on this year. He needs more experience and could add more weight to more of a factor inside.
- Tight end Norman Gee, RFr.
A physical young target with decent hands, the 6-5, 255-pound Gee is the biggest tight end in the mix and should quickly find his way on the field. He's not quite the receiver Nick Stefanow is at the moment, but he's not far off.

Offensive Linemen
The line has done absolutely nothing over the past two seasons, so it's not the worst thing in the world that it's starting from scratch with only one returning starter. There's size and a little bit of depth considering how young this group is, but there aren't any proven blockers outside of center Matt Rumsey. Sophomores Cameron Goldberg and Fred Roland are tall tackle prospects who'll have to fight through early growing pains, while guards Zach Maurides and Rob Schirmann have to open up more holes than last year's starters were able to.

The key to the unit: The starting five has to jell in a big hurry. There won't be time to come up with position battles with every practice being key for this young group.
Offensive Line Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- OT Cameron Goldberg, Soph.
Goldberg was a top reserve through his freshman season and started in the season finale. He's an athletic 6-6 and 280 pounds at left tackle who hasn't lost any quickness after coming to Duke at 250 pounds.
- OG Zach Maurides, Jr.
A career backup, Maurides will have to battle to take over the job at left guard. His little bit of experience, potential as a pass blocker, and size at 290 pounds gives him the huge edge over 255-pound Danny Bowling.
- C Matt Rumsey, Jr.
The only returning starter to the line, the 6-4, 285-pound junior is the leader by default. He has gotten better and better since being thrown to the wolves as a true freshman, and he should be the team's most consistent blocker early on.
- OG Rob Schirmann, Soph.
Able to play tackle or guard, the 285-pound sophomore will get the first look on the right side. He saw a little bit of playing time last year and could be moved around by the time the season starts.
- OT Fred Roland, Soph.
A decent reserve throughout last season, the 6-8, 310-pounder is still a bit raw, but he has great potential. His log frame alone makes him a great prospect as a pass blocker. He has to prove he can be a consistently physical factor in the running game.

Top Backups
- C Garrett Mason, Jr.
After seeing time on the defensive line and as a backup guard, the 300-pound junior has settled into the job at backup center behind Matt Rumsey.
- T Ben Loebner, RFr.
He's huge. The 6-9, 305-pound redshirt freshman is a fantastic prospect on the left side adding more size than Cameron Goldberg. He's a strong run blocker who can play either tackle position.

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