One good reason: Duke


We’re taking a look at one good reason each school in the ACC will win this year, and, just to make sure we cover both sides of the story, one good reason why it won’t. For most schools, the focus is on winning the ACC title. For the programs that missed out on the postseason entirely last year (and in some cases the year before that, and the year before that … ), the focus is on getting back to a bowl game (at least it is here in the blogosphere). We’re going in alphabetical order.

The series continues today with one good reason why …

Duke will get to a bowl game: Quarterback Sean Renfree. Coach David Cutcliffe believes he has a special quarterback with pro potential. He would know. Renfree, a two-year starter, enters his senior season as the ACC’s active career leader in passing yardage (6,352), total offense (6,235) and pass completions (601). He has completed 63.4 percent of his passes for his career and has a career efficiency rating of 124.52. In 2011, Renfree finished second in the ACC in passing yardage and third in total offense. He has topped the 300-yard mark in passing yardage eight times. “He can be tremendous,” Cutcliffe said. “It’s a step he’s got to take mentally.” If Renfree follows Cutcliffe’s advice and starts to play more aggressively and without fear of throwing interceptions (he had 11 last year), Renfree could be one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC this year.

Why it won’t. A lack of depth, particularly on defense. Cutcliffe saw it first-hand this spring, when four starters on defense and four on offense missed the entire spring because of lingering injuries they suffered last year. Star receiver Conner Vernon, starting linebacker Kelby Brown, defensive end Kenny Anunike, safety Augie Campbell, center Brian Moore, and tight end Braxton Deaver were among those who missed the entire spring. Cutcliffe said the injuries have been probably the most frustrating part of his job since he was hired. Duke has made progress in its recruiting under Cutcliffe, but the program still does not have enough depth that it could afford so many injuries to key players. The health of the roster will continue to be critical in Duke’s efforts to get back to a bowl game.

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