Hope and concern: Duke

The hope and concern series continues Friday with Duke:

Biggest reason for hope: The passing game

In his first season as a starter, quarterback Sean Renfree completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 3,131 yards and 14 touchdowns. He made measurable progress throughout the season and cut down on his turnovers (15 of his 17 interceptions last season occurred in Duke’s first seven games). Renfree’s yardage total was the fifth-best in ACC history by a freshman or sophomore. He finished second in the ACC in total offense and third in passing yardage. Renfree also has talented veteran receivers. Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon have combined for 274 pass receptions, the most of any active duo in the ACC. Vernon led the ACC in pass receptions (73) and finished third in receiving yards (973) last season.

Biggest reason for concern: One of the country's worst defenses

There’s no way to put it gently: Duke’s defense was bad last season. The Blue Devils ranked No. 109 in scoring defense, allowing 35.42 points per game. They were No. 108 in total defense, No. 96 in pass defense, No. 113 in sacks and No. 109 in tackles for loss. It all starts up front, but the entire group needs to take a major step forward or the offensive accomplishments will again be rendered useless in the win column.

More in this series:

  • Boston College

  • Clemson