Blue and White: Previewing Duke football's spring game

Freshman quarterback Grayson Loftis drops back for a pass against Virginia.
Freshman quarterback Grayson Loftis drops back for a pass against Virginia.

As Duke football prepares for its Blue and White game, the Blue Zone takes a look at what fans can expect from the spring scrimmage:

Duke football fans will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a revamped team under the direction of head coach Manny Diaz at the annual Blue and White scrimmage Saturday evening.

The Blue Devils have suffered numerous losses since last season, starting with the departure of head coach Mike Elko and trickling down to integral parts of the team. Star quarterback Riley Leonard and defensive end R.J. Oben both left Duke’s program to join the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame. The Blue Devils also lost defensive tackle DeWayne Carter and offensive linemen Graham Barton and Jacob Monk to the NFL draft. On top of this, some of Duke’s highest-ranked recruits decommitted after Elko’s surprise departure.

The Blue and White scrimmage will be a showcase of the brand-new and under-the-radar talent that will serve as the backbone of Duke football through its 2024 season. Fans should keep an eye on the quarterback battle between freshman Grayson Loftis and sophomores Maalik Murphy and Henry Belin VI as each fight to fill the vacancy left by Leonard. Playing only one game in the 2023 season, Belin will look to bounce back after he was benched in favor of sophomore Loftis during Leonard’s injury. Meanwhile, Loftis will fight to prove his worth after leading the Blue Devils through a narrow 47-45 loss to UNC. Murphy, who played in seven games during the 2023 season, logging three touchdowns and one interception, has also thrust himself into competition for the starting quarterback position. 

Other veterans can use the scrimmage to show off their development. Senior running back Jaquez Moore had a solid 2023 season, finishing the year with 674 rushing yards and six touchdowns. On Saturday, fans should be on the lookout for No. 9 to showcase his explosiveness: Moore prepares to be an offensive leader in the upcoming campaign. Returning starting wide receiver Sahmir Hagans was also a staple on offense last season, finishing the year with 260 yards receiving. In this game, the redshirt junior will be expected to start and act as the leader of the wide receiver core. And junior cornerback Chandler Rivers, after recording 58 tackles and one interception in the 2023 season, will play that role on defense.

The Blue and White scrimmage gives the Blue Devil faithful its first peek at how defensive-minded Diaz will run his team. After driving Penn State to third in the Big Ten East for the 2023 season — largely with defense — Diaz looks to develop Duke defensively in hopes of leading it to success.


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