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Observations From Duke’s Win Over Army

Credit:Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Duke battled through Hurricane Matthew and a host of injuries to hold on for a 13-6 victory over Army.  As has become the norm against triple option teams, the defense played extremely well.  The Black Knights were shut down with the exception of a couple plays.  The offense struggled to move the ball in the ridiculous weather conditions, but we’re able to muster just enough.  Duke evened their record at 3-3.  Now done with non conference play Duke will head to Louisville for a Friday matchup against Heisman candidate Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals.

Key Observations

Jim Knowles and the Duke defense has been successful against the triple option for the last few seasons.  Their game plan and personnel matches up perfectly against triple option teams.  While Hurricane Matthew made things interesting, the Duke defense didn’t blink.  The Blue Devils held Army to just 2 of 13 on theirs down and 0 for 4 on fourth down conversion attempts.  Duke still hasn’t allowed a fourth down conversion this season.  Army broke through with a couple runs, including a 45 yard touchdown run near the end of the first half, but by and large got little or nothing against the Blue Devils.  Corbin McCarthy, Breon Borders, and Deondre Singleton all came up with big plays while Joe Giles-Harris continued their strong, consistent play this season.  Duke will visit Georgia Tech in a few weeks and will face the triple option again.  Despite the weather, Saturday’s game was a nice warm up to the Yellow Jackets.

Duke had to finish the game without two critical pieces on offense.  Running back Jela Duncan and center Austin Davis were each lost due to leg injuries.  Duncan missed last week’s game after injuring his ankle late in the win over Notre Dame.  He had some tough runs in the rain before leaving the game with what looked to be another ankle injury.  Austin Davis had his leg caught under a body on a tackle and never returned.  The offense was already handicapped due to the pouring rain.  Passing was never a real option.  After Duncan and Davis went out the Blue Devils basically stalled out.  The offensive line hadn’t played great to this point in the season, but losing the starting center can cause a domino effect on offense.  The center is crucial to every play.  We saw last week how the running game looked without Duncan.  At this time there is no indication how long either guy will be out.  After the game Coach Cutcliffe stated that both injuries were legitimate, but stopped short of calling them serious or season ending.  Duke typically keeps player health information very quiet so it may be a few days before we get any real news about Davis and Duncan.

Daniel Jones didn’t have many opportunities to make up for last week’s turnover filled affair.  The torrential rains and wind made passing near impossible.  That said Jones still played well.  He didn’t force the ball when passing plays were called.  His touchdown pass to Aaron Young was a thing of beauty.  Jones ran well on several designed QB runs.  He did lose one fumble on a nice hit by the Army defender, but didn’t let the turnover spiral into anything more.  Jones probably took some unnecessary hits trying to fight for extra yardage. I’m sure that will be addressed during film session this week.

Additional News & Notes

Duke went 3-1 during the nonconference portion of their schedule this season. They are now in 14-2 in regular season nonconference games since 2013.

Parker Boehme’s goal line touchdown pass was his second TD pass of the season and the fourth of his career.

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Aaron Young had the first two catches of his career, one being a touchdown.