Duke football once again proved this year that they are here to stay as they closed the year on going to their third straight bowl game led by David Cutcliffe. Duke also won nine games in back to back years for the first time in school history. The Blue Devils came up just short, losing 36-31 to Arizona State in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Besides the great leadership of coach David Cutcliffe much of this team’s success can be attributed to Duke’s strong group of experienced and talented offensive personnel.
Duke’s offensive attack was led by senior quarterback Anthony Boone. Boone was named starting quarterback for the second year in a row at the season’s start and did an exceptional job controlling the offensive tempo and spreading the ball around. Boone closed the season with 2700 yards and 19 touchdowns compared to his junior year in which he totaled 2260 yards and just 13 touchdowns. Coming into the season Boone was ranked as the 10th best quarterback prospect looking ahead to the 2015 draft, although with Boone’s completion percentage falling to 56.3% this season we likely won’t see him suiting up on Sundays. Nonetheless, even though Boone did not have the season he probably hoped for there is no doubt that he was as integral to the team’s success as anybody else. In addition, Boone closed his college career as part of the winningest class in Duke history.
The wide out that received most of Boone’s and the opposing defense’s attention was senior Jamison Crowder. Crowder cemented his legacy like none other in his career at Duke. With Crowder’s last reception in the Sun Bowl he tied former Duke teammate Conner Vernon atop the all-time ACC receptions list. Crowder also finished the season with 85 receptions, 1044 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Also, highly critical in Duke’s offensive success was the run game and offensive line anchored by first team All-American Laken Tomlinson. Tomlinson was a four year starter at Duke and led an offensive line that allowed only 13 sacks all year. Tomlinson will likely be drafted higher than any other Duke player in recent years. Most of Duke’s running attack was split between junior Shaquille Powell and freshman Shaun Wilson. Powell was the most productive between the two, rushing for 618 yards on 134 attempts with two touchdowns while Wilson showed a lot of potential by rushing for 598 yards on 78 attempts for five touchdowns. Between the duel threat at running back position along with at quarterback Duke was able to rush for 181.8 yards per game, the best since 2003.
Although Duke loses several key players, in looking ahead to next year, they will still have a strong group of returning players at a multitude of positions. A few receiver slots along with the quarterback position will be up for grabs as the possibility of a transfer looms to compete with current backup quarterback Thomas Sirk. Four running backs including Powell and Wilson will compete for carries while Duke also returns three offensive linemen. Expect Duke to compete once again next year atop the ACC.