On the eve of Duke's first practice, here are five questions the Blue Devils need to address before their Sept. 1 kickoff against Florida International:
1 . Can Sean Renfree continue to improve?
Renfree, a fifth-year senior, was much more effective as a junior, trimming six interceptions off his sophomore year total and throwing multiple interceptions only in the 14-10 loss to Virginia Tech. In order for Duke to improve, though, Renfree will need to take another large step forward in his development, cutting down even further on the turnovers. He threw interceptions in each of Duke’s last seven losses last year).
Cutcliffe, who knows a fair amount about quarterbacks (he advised Peyton Manning, whom he coached at Tennessee, during Manning’s offseason rehab), has said that Renfree has NFL potential.
“He’s got to handle pressure,” Cutcliffe told ESPN in May. “He’s got to do the things that at times have been a problem for us. Is he a pro prospect? Definitely. I think he will get drafted. To what level depends upon this year.”
2. Other than Connor Vernon, to whom will Sean Renfree throw?
Vernon, who is set to become the ACC’s all-time leading receiver this year, is the clear No. 1 of the group. After that, though, there are a lot of question marks.
Gone is Donovan Varner, Duke’s all-time receptions leader. Brandon Braxton, the second-leading returner behind Vernon, has been moved to safety, and Blair Holliday, a projected starter, suffered critical head injuries in a personal watercraft accident July 4. That leaves sophomore Jamison Crowder (14 receptions, 163 yards) and redshirt freshman Nick Hill as second and third options for now. Only one other receiver listed on the preseason depth chart—redshirt junior Corey Gattis—caught a pass last season, and his lone reception went for minus-three yards.
Duke has two true freshmen with decent size – Max McCaffrey (6-foot-2) and Anthony Nash (6-foot-5) – who will be in the mix, along with Jack Wise and Brandon Watkins.
Click here to read the rest and to see what head coach David Cutcliffe thinks about the possibility of a bowl game.