Duke WR Conner Vernon will set the ACC career receiving records for catches and yards early this season. Here's a look at some less well-known Blue Devil players that might make a difference in the 2012 season.
Offensive X-factor: Desmond Scott is listed as the top RB on the preseason depth chart, but he's been moved to WR. He thinks he'll be a dual threat and has been watching tape of how Florida used Percy Harvin to use as a model. “He's a football player,” coach David Cutcliffe said of Scott's position. “We're trying to find people that will make plays and get them on the field.”
Defensive X-factor: S Brandon Braxton moved to defense from WR. Despite injuries that eroded Duke's WR depth, Braxton is staying put. “He's a safety, not a receiver,” S Walt Canty said. “He's a natural playmaker.” Duke will need to replace S Matt Daniels in the secondary. Cutcliffe said that the plan is to have Canty play Daniels' old spot, and Braxton replace Canty.
Special teams X-factor: Duke thought kicking was a strength last season, but senior K Will Snyderwine missed two kicks in the season-opening loss to Richmond, and the team never had a dependable option on field goals. Freshman K Will Monday should change that. “I couldn't get him to miss,” Cutcliffe said of Monday's accuracy during the football camp that earned him a scholarship offer. “I tried everything.” Hopefully for the Blue Devils, putting him into a game that counts won't change that.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.