Florida State will have the target on its back throughout the 2014 season, but won’t be the only team in the ACC defending something this year.
So with all the momentum that Duke has now, can this Blue Devil team win more than 10 games in 2014?
The answer to that is no.
Yes, this team should be excited to begin this season (and I expect them to start 4-0) but in no way do I think it's ready to win more than 10 games.
As good as Duke was last season, the 2014 edition would have to be even better to win more than 10 games—which I don’t see happening anytime soon.
Quarterback Anthony Boone will be back to lead the offense and I expect him to be even better this year under Cutcliffe’s wing. But let’s be honest, the season will depend on the defense again.
In 2013, the defense was able to come up big down the stretch for the Blue Devils, holding Wake Forest and North Carolina under 28 points, which both ended up as close wins. But the final two games were a different story. Giving up 45 points to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game (which happened to plenty of defenses) and 52 to Johnny football and Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A-Bowl, as both ended up as losses.
It’s not rocket science; normally if you give up more than 40 points it’s very hard to win. But my point is that these were two good football teams and if Duke is going to win these kinds of matchups, the defense has to thrive.
Duke definitely has talent, but Cutcliffe doesn’t have the depth that most big-time programs have from recruiting. Normally teams that win 10-plus games are extremely talented across the board and the Blue Devils just aren't there yet.