Duke vs Clemson on primetime television tells you all you need to know about the finale of opening weekend for college football. After a successful first season as head coach, Mike Elko and the Duke Blue Devils – who return 19 starters from last year’s squad – are looking to shock the revamped ACC with a culture-defining win against national powerhouse Clemson.
Here’s what to look for Monday night:
Riley Leonard extending drives:
Duke quarterback Riley Leonard passed for over 2,900 yards a year ago under Coach Elko’s regime, which featured a three-headed receiving attack. The trio are back, but will be without star wideout Eli Pancol who is nursing a lower leg injury sustained during fall camp. Jalon Calhoun and Jordan Moore will have to create separation on the outside – extending crucial third down opportunities for Duke to not only chew the clock, but put points on the board in bunches.
Contain Will Shipley
Clemson’s All-ACC tailback and Weddington, NC native Will Shipley accounted for over 1,400 all purpose yards during his 2022 campaign – with mediocre quarterback play. With a more elusive play-caller in the backfield, who demands defenses to play QB-spy due to his dual threat ability in Cade Klubnik, Shipley could cause serious issues for Duke’s linebacking unit and secondary. The Blue Devils were top three in the country in forcing turnovers last season. Duke’s front line, led by defensive tackle Dewayne Carter, must get off the field on 3rd downs with a secondary that has had the propensity to give up big plays.
Whose Cade Clubnik
Tigers’ quarterback Cade Klubnik and new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley will get full attention Monday night. Many of Clemson’s struggles last season were due to inconsistent quarterback play. Former starter D.J Uiagalelei transferred to Oregon State, giving Cade Klubnik the keys to operate a Tigers’ offense in need of a spark. If Clemson is to be taken seriously as a contender, Klubnik and company can not afford to overlook Duke.
- Duke returns 19 starters (nine on offense, eight on defense and two on special teams) from a year ago, including seven All-ACC selections in offensive tackle Graham Barton, wide receiver and return specialist Jalon Calhoun, defensive tackle DeWayne Carter, safety Brandon Johnson, quarterback Riley Leonard, center Jacob Monk, and punter Porter Wilson.
- The Blue Devils have not had a home season opener against a conference opponent since 2001 when they dropped a 55-13 decision to No. 6 Florida State. Additionally over the last 25 years, Duke has opened the season with a conference foe just three times and are 0-3 in those contests.
- Duke’s four losses in 2022 were by a combined 16 points. Of the 10 FBS schools with four losses last season, the Blue Devils’ 16-point margin was the lowest.
- Duke finished last season 7-0 when scoring first. In six of those seven games, the Blue Devils registered a touchdown to begin the scoring and five were on the opening drive.
- Duke’s defensive unit ranked fourth in the ACC in 2022 in rushing defense, allowing just 121.62 yards per outing, and held five-of-12 opponents to under 100 yards rushing for an average of just 3.73 yards per carry with eight rushing scores.
- Duke became the seventh team in program history to hold its opponents to less than 15 rushing scores in a single-season after allowing just 10 in 2022. Since 1970, there had only been five Duke teams that held its opponents to less than 15 rushing scores in a single-season.
How to Watch
On-Air Time: 8 p.m.
Announcers: Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Dusty Dvoracek (color analyst), and Tom Luginbill (sideline)
Channel Finder:Verizon | Direct TV | Dish Network | Comcast Xfinity | Cox
Blue Devil Sports Network from LEARFIELD:
Pregame Show: 6:30 p.m.
Full Affiliate List
Announcers:David Shumate (play-by-play); Dave Harding (color analyst); John Roth (sideline reporter); Jeff Hamlin (studio updates)