Saturday, Duke Football hosts Wake Forest in not just a home finale at Wallace Wade, but an opportunity for the Blue Devils to finish the season with 8 wins for the first time in 7 years and potentially secure a better bowl game in Coach Elko’s first year in Durham.
Wake Forest and Duke both have a 7-4 record overall, with a single game separation in conference play favoring Duke who sits at 4-3.
What to Look For:
If there has been a weakness for the Blue Devils this season on the defensive side of the ball it’s the secondary, where they allow over 250 yards per game (254.4). Brandon Johnson will have huge role to fill – ranking 4th on the team in tackles – and will be expected to key in on the Demon Deacons’ quarterback/wide receiver combo in Sam Hartman and A.T Perry with delayed blitzes out of the secondary. Against Virginia Tech Johnson’s two sacks where the key plays to lift the Blue Devils over the Hokies – giving him player of the week honors from Mike Elko.
Sam Hartman will look to facilitate a high octane offense that averages 311 yards through the air a game, which ranks 11th nationally. On the season, Hartman has thrown for 3,074 yards (15th nationally) and has a touchdown/interception ratio of 32-10. He’s a complete problem from the pocket – a reason why scouts have him being selected in next year’s NFL draft.
Darius Joyner and Brandon Johnson will have their hands full if Duke doesn’t get upfront pressure from Shaka Heyward, Dwayne Carter and company.
Key to the Game:
Wake Forest is giving up over 400 yards per game this season. Moreover, the Demon Deacons control the clock – possessing the ball nearly 30 minutes per game. It will be paramount for the Blue Devils to have long sustained drives against a defense that will yield many opportunities for Duke’s rushing attack that averages 191 yards per game on the ground. The Blue Devils have a 3rd down conversion rate of nearly 41 percent and Mike Elko doesn’t shy away from pulling the trigger on 4th down where the Blue Devils have converted 60.87% of their 4th down attempts.
Where to Watch: ACC Network
Location: Wallace Wade Stadium