Duke starting linebacker C.J. France doubtful versus Troy

09/04/2014 11:20 AM

09/04/2014 11:20 AM

Duke continues to lose veteran players at linebacker.

Redshirt Senior C.J. France, who started at Will linebacker last week, is doubtful with a leg injury. Redshirt freshman Chris Holmes will make his first collegiate start in France’s place. Holmes actually played more snaps (35) than France (26) in last week’s 52-13 win over Elon.

France is the second notable linebacker to be sidelined with an injury— Kelby Brown, Duke’s best defender overall, tore his left ACL during preseason camp.

Linebacker wasn’t a position with an overabundance of depth to begin with—since Duke plays a 4-2-5 defense, the Blue Devils typically take only one or two a year in recruiting. Holmes, Duke’s new starter at Will, is a converted safety. He started playing linebacker in the spring.

"Thank goodness he has a game under his belt, he has a few real weeks of practice under his belt now," Cutcliffe said of Holmes. "Obviously the biggest concern is that he missed most of camp with his own hamstring, but he looks full speed and ready to go."

Behind Helton and Holmes will be true freshman Zavier Carmichael, junior Deion Williams, redshirt freshman Dominic McDonald and redshirt junior Nick Hill. For the past few weeks, Cutcliffe has been publicly hoping that Williams will take advantage of this opportunity for more playing time. There will be even more opportunities than originally anticipated come Saturday.

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Duke beat writer Laura Keeley

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