The Blue Devils return a great deal of talent from the 2013 team, but the defensive line was hit hard by graduation. Jamal Bruce is the only returning starter from a defensive line that wasn’t all that great last year and therefore may be even weaker in 2014.
Thanks to two supreme talents at linebacker, seniors Kelby Brown and David Helton, the defensive line will have some help in stopping the run. When it comes to generating a pass rush, however, the Blue Devils may struggle mightily.
Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo only played in nine games last season due to an ankle injury. In his career, the redshirt senior has made only nine starts, and none of them came in 2013.
Despite the lack of statistical prowess, Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo is Duke’s best playmaker on the defensive line.
The aforementioned ankle injury is hopefully the cause of a less than spectacular 2013 campaign when he accumulated just nine tackles and two sacks. In the two season prior to that, Dewalt-Ondijo totaled 36 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
As a redshirt freshman and sophomore, Dewalt-Ondijo showed enough potential to earn nine starts and was on the field for well over 300 snaps each season. Presumably his ankle is fully recovered, and Dewalt-Ondijo can return to the active player who earned so much playing time in 2011 and 2012.
For Duke to have any kind of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, Dewalt-Ondijo will need to be coming strong off the edge and making his way into the backfield.
The potential for Dewalt-Ondijo to be a formidable defensive lineman is there. Injuries have slowed his progress, but if he can finally realize the promise that had the coaching staff in 2011 and 2012 so excited, then Dewalt Ondijo can help remedy the Blue Devils’ biggest weakness.