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Duke Football Preview: Five Blue Devils To Keep the Offense Burning in 2009

Tyler Lambert@@Tblamb2you2Senior Analyst IAugust 26, 2009

DURHAM, NC - SEPTEMBER 13:  Thaddeus Lewis #9 of the Duke Blue Devils drops back to pass against the Navy Midshipmen during the game at Wallace Wade Stadium on September 13, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Duke football program is hoping to make significant improvements during the 2009 season. The hope of becoming a great team in the ACC must start with the offense and the players to whom the offense will rely on in pressure-packed situations.

From the running back position to starting QB, most positions on the Duke roster at this point in the season are up for grabs. Who will go the extra mile and earn a place in the first-team offense and who will lay low and get benched during the season?

The offensive unit of the Blue Devils is very experienced, yet at the same time has very young players Coach David Cutcliffe and his staff will need to count on when the season begins.

Which players on offense are the most crucial for Duke to have success?

Here are the top five offensive players to watch during Duke's 2009 season:

5. RB Re'quan Boyette:

Height: 5'10

Weight: 205

Year: Senior

Last season, Re'quan Boyette underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and missed the entire season because of the severity of the injury. During this upcoming season, Boyette will be one of the top running backs on roster for the Blue Devils.

In Duke's most recent football scrimmage, Boyette finished with five carries for 39 yards and two touchdowns, highlighting the 55-play scrimmage. The leading rusher for Duke in both 2007 and 2008, Boyette will be one of the go-to guys on this Duke football team.

His athletic ability, along with his ability to break tackles, will be crucial in order for Duke to have success in the running game this season. If Boyette can come back from his injury and play at the level he did in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons in Durham, there is no telling how lethal Duke's running game could become.

Look for great things in senior Re'quan Boyette this season. As he has already shown, he is one of the most experienced and best RB in the entire ACC. The question, though, is how well will he play after being out all of last season?

Stats:

2005: Attempts- 60; Gain- 271 Yards; Loss- 19 Yards; TD's-1; Avg/G- 28.0 Yards.

2006: Attempts- 87; Gain- 421 Yards; Loss- 33 Yards; TD's- 2; Avg/G- 32.3 Yards.

2007: Attempts- 104; Gain- 472 Yards; Loss- 40 Yards; TD's- 2; Avg/G- 36.0 Yards.

4. WR Austin Kelly:

Height: 6'2

Weight: 200

Year: Junior

As a junior wide receiver, Austin Kelly is one of the most experienced offensive players on the Duke roster. During the 2008 season, Kelly matured as a receiver, competing in 11 games with six starts.

Kelly started the 2008 season strong, recording at least one pass reception in the first six games before an injury caused him to miss the Vanderbilt game. One of his strongest performances of the year was against Northwestern, a game in which Kelly had four catches for a total of 37 yards.

After the departure of 2008 leading receiver Eron Riley, Kelly will be one of the most frequently targeted players that QB Thad Lewis will look to pass the ball to. However, with Riley's absence, Austin Kelly will need to step up his game from 2008.

If he can be one of the dominant WRs on the team, then look for Thad Lewis and Austin Kelly to be one of the most lethal QB-WR duos in the ACC.

Stats:

2007: Receptions- 15; Yards- 186; Avg- 12.4 Yards; TD's- 1; Avg/G- 15.5 Yards.

2008: Receptions- 13; Yards- 142; Avg- 10.9 Yards; TD's- 0; Avg/G- 12.9 Yards.

3. WR Johnny Williams:

Height: 5'10

Weight: 185

Year: Sophomore

Like in the case of Kelly, Johnny Williams will be one of the most talented WRs on the Blue Devils' roster. Williams made a name for himself in just the second game of the season against Northwestern, tallying 11 catches for 135 yards and was named the ACC Rookie of the Week for his performance

He ranked second on the 2008 Blue Devils' team in both receptions and yards, behind only All-ACC performer Riley. Another key stat for Williams is that he recorded a reception in 10 of the 11 games he competed in during 2008.

2008 was Williams' first season, so look for him to make a name for himself in Durham during the upcoming years. He has great speed and hands, both of which are crucial to becoming a great receiver in the college game.

Lewis has already stated that Williams is one of his favorite targets, so look for Williams to get a lot of touches and playing time. Expect big things from this sophomore; he is one of the best upcoming WRs in the nation.

Stats:

2008: Receptions- 30; Yards- 327; Avg- 10.9 Yards; TD's- 0; Avg/G- 29.7 Yards.

2. RB Desmond Scott:

Height: 5'10

Weight: 185

Year: Freshman

One of the most prized recruits in recent Duke history, Desmond Scott is ranked the top running back from the state of North Carolina and the 23rd-best running back in the country by ESPN.com.

I know that is hard to say that a freshman will do damage in the ACC, seeing as how he has never played a true college game yet in his career, but Scott is one of those players that is meant to succeed. He was one of the most exceptional players in high school last year, which means he is no pushover.

As a senior, he led Hillside (Durham, NC) in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receiving yards, and various other categories. He also led his team to the state playoff semifinals.

Scott is looking to challenge senior Boyette for playing time at RB, and I believe that he will get chances to shine at the college level. Look for Scott to develop during his freshman season and become one of the best RB in all of college football during his next few seasons in Durham.

Stats:

2008 (high school stats): Attempts- 256; Gain- 2,249 Yards; TD's- 24; Receptions- 30; Yards- 532; Receiving TD's- 5.

1. QB Thaddeus Lewis:

Height: 6'1

Weight: 215

Year: Senior

In one of the most anticipated Duke football seasons in a decade, Thaddeus Lewis is doing his part as being a very consistent QB. Lewis has the statistics and experience to back that up.

In what will be his final season at Duke, Thaddeus, or "Thad" as he has been called, will do his best to propel Duke to a bowl berth. Lewis, an All-ACC second-team performer in 2008, is returning to Duke as the leading returning passer in the conference.

Lewis' 2008 campaign went very smoothly, making the top 10 on Duke’s single-season lists for completions (seventh), touchdowns (tied- eighth), and attempts (ninth). If these numbers don't back up the fact that he should be the No. 1 Duke offensive player to watch in 2009, then the experience factor will.

Lewis is a senior, meaning that this season will be his final before he most likely begins a new career in the NFL. With his strong arm, ability to rush if needed, and completion percentage above the average college QB, Lewis is destined for a great 2009 season.

Look for "Thad" Lewis to lead Duke to unprecedented success in 2009. He should be an All-ACC performer once again, and should make a strong case for being labeled one of the ACC's best QBs. The passing game is counting on Lewis, and Lewis has the confidence in his receivers to succeed.

Look out for Thaddeus Lewis in 2009!

Stats:

2006: Attempts- 340; Completions- 180; TD's- 11; INT's- 16; Avg/G- 177.8 Yards

2007: Attempts- 360; Completions- 199; TD's- 21; INT's- 10; Avg/G- 202.5 Yards

2008: Attempts- 361; Completions- 224; TD's- 15; INT's- 6; Avg/G- 197.4 Yards

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Statistics provided by GoDuke.com

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