As we reported on ACCSports.com over the weekend, two major bits of news took place that will have an impact on the Coastal Division. First, Miami permanently dismissed two key defensive players for violating NCAA rules: junior defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who led the Canes with five sacks in 2015, and senior linebacker Jermaine Grace, the team’s leading tackler with 79 last season. Secondly, after a promising offseason of recovery, it was announced moments later that Duke’s senior quarterback Thomas Sirk suffered a partial tear to his left Achilles tendon during practice Thursday night — the second time in the last six months he’s suffered an injury to the same Achilles — which will cause him to miss the entire 2016 season.
One of these developments, however, carries more weight, according to Bill Connelly of SB Nation’s Football Study Hall: the absence of Sirk in Durham.
Sirk, as a junior, was far from the most efficient passer in the ACC, but he was the point man in Duke’s offense, which ranked 36th in the nation in total yards last season (439 yards per game). At the end of just last week, Connelly’s numbers projected the Blue Devils to win 5.8 games, and gave David Cutcliffe’s team a 56.4 percent chance of making a bowl game for the fifth-straight season — something that’s never been accomplished before at the school.
On Monday, though, Connelly published his updated projections, and Duke slipped significantly after Sirk’s loss was factored in.
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