The Duke Blue Devils visit Jerry Richardson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday September 3 to play the Charlotte 49ers in the opening game of the 2021 college football season for both teams. Duke's offense will be led by quarterback Gunnar Holmberg, who has played in seven games during the past three seasons. Duke's offense returns three talented wide receivers led by Jake Bobo, while the running game will be led by Mataeo Durant, who last season rushed for 817 yards and eight touchdowns.
Duke's defense lost two pass rushers that combined for 15.5 sacks and will move Ben Frye from the interior line to the outside to help offset the loss of the pass rushers. Linebacker Shaka Heyward is the anchor of the defense and will play alongside returning linebacker Rocky Shelton II. Last season the secondary was hurt due to injuries and cornerback Josh Blackwell and safety Lummie Young IV must be healthy this season for the Blue Devils to compete.
Charlotte was 2-4 overall and 2-2 in the Conference-USA last season. Chris Reynolds will start at quarterback for Charlotte but could be pushed by James Foster, a transfer from Texas A&M. The receiving corps will be led by Victor Tucker, while four of the top receivers from last season return including talented tight end Taylor Thompson. The top two running backs were lost from last season but Shadrick Byrd Rives from Iowa will help to carry the load.
Charlotte used the transfer portal to add to its defense including former Notre Dame outsiderusher Kofi Wardlow. Iowa State transfer Joshua Bailey will give Charlotte plenty of bulk on the interior line. Antone Williams and Lance McMillan are the top players in the secondary while Tyler Murray is a talented linebacker with the size of a safety and Luke Martin is strong inside at middle linebacker. Justin Whisenhunt, who transferred from Troy, is expected to make an immediate impact at linebacker.