Coming off a much needed bye week, the Duke Blue Devils head to Winston Salem to take on the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest who are atop the Atlantic division at 7-0 and just dropped 70 points (3rd highest point total in school history) on Army a week ago.
Here are three keys to the Blue Devils pulling off an upset in Winston:
Duke is desperate for a win, losing three straight games and sitting dead last in the ACC. To make matters worst, the Blue Devils’ defense ranks last in the conference in scoring, pass defense and total overall team defense.
The secondary has had it’s issues all season long, led by Jeremiah Lewis and Josh Blackwell continuously being tested on 3rd down plays. The opposing teams have made it a focal point to place either Blackwell or Lewis in one on one coverage with no safety over top, capitalizing on the match-ups. They will have their hands full with A.T. Perry and Jaquarii Roberson Saturday. It’s time for Jeremiah and Josh to step up with five games left on the season and potentially David Cutcliffe’s farewell tour.
Battle in the Trenches
Duke has to control the line of scrimmage, convert on 3rd down and more importantly find Mataeo Durant in the passing game. Why? In Duke’s last three games defenses have stacked the box and dared senior quarterback Gunnar Holmberg to beat them with his arm. During that span Duke is 0-3. Not only is Duke failing to convert in the passing game to extend drives, they can’t stay on the field long enough to keep their defense fresh.
Note: Durant is within reach of breaking Duke’s single season rushing record, but wins are more important with a bowl game within reach.
Duke’s has lost their last six road games by double figures, dating back to last year. Duke has to start fast with their infamous up-tempo offense, and more importantly, not become so one-dimensional on passing downs. It starts at the quarterback position with Holmberg being more decisive in the pocket, and finding Jake Bobo and Jalon Calhoun early. Duke can’t afford 3rd and long situations.
Duke is allowing more points per game than any team in the ACC and rank 111th nationally in total defense.
At 0-3 in conference play and a trip down I-40 on Saturday, things won’t get any easier for Duke. Cutcliffe preaches about making adjustments in practice and yet the results have been absent. If Duke hopes to be competitive versus Wake they need to come out the gates gun-slinging.
Time- 4:00 P.M.
Date: October 30, 2021
How to watch: ACC Network
Wake Forest 7-0, Duke 3-4