Head coach Henry Frazier should see improvement from his squad at N.C. Central this season, but it is unlikely to be enough to threaten Duke. The Eagles were bottom feeders in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 2011, finishing 2-9 on the season with just one conference victory. Frazier’s team continues to mature and to adapt to his system, which should allow the Eagles to take a step forward in his second year at the helm.
Following the graduation of quarterback Michael Johnson, junior Matt Goggans will lead N.C. Central under center. Goggans, who transferred from a California junior college after two seasons, will look to senior Geovenie Irvine as his primary target. Irvine, a 5-foot-7 Durham native who played with Duke wideout Desmond Scott in high school, caught 47 passes for 580 yards and five touchdowns a season ago.
The Eagles struggled mightily on the defensive side of the football in 2011, allowing 31 points per game. Their defensive effort against the pass was serviceable, but they could not find a way to stop opponents’ running games. Surrendering 181.1 yards per game on the ground, N.C. Central allowed 25 rushing touchdowns, compared to just 17 in the air. To make matters worse, the Eagles will enter the 2012 season with a younger and less experienced defense. Without linebacker Brandon Outlaw or defensive back James Reese, the team’s two leading tacklers in 2011, N.C. Central’s aspirations to improve defending the run appear dim. Look for Duke’s collection of runners to have a field day against this defense.
This and the contest against Memphis appear to be Duke’s two sure-fire wins in the 2012 campaign.