When: Friday, August 31, 2018. 7:00 pm
Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, North Carolina
Line: Duke -14
Last Time: Duke 16, Army 21. The Blue Devils trip to West Point last season came with a disappointing result. After taking a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter, Duke gave up 21 straight points and were unable to complete the comeback. The Duke defense held Army scoreless through the second half, but just could not muster any offense when it was needed. The Golden Knights triple option attack was held to 226 rushing yards, a season low, but 2 Duke turnovers and a blocked punt proved too costly. Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw attempted just one pass on the day, while Duke quarterback Daniel Jones went 19 for 29 for just 164 yards and 1 interception. The loss was Duke’s sixth in a row and marked a low point in the season that would see the Blue Devils rebound and reel off four straight victories including their Quick Lane Bowl win.
Duke will open the 2018 season with an untraditional Friday night game against a frequent opponent. The Army Golden Knights come to town coming off a 10 win season that saw them defeat the Blue Devils and go to a bowl game for the second straight season. The Knights return 11 starters from last year’s team and will be tasked with replacing quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw. While the quarterback in a triple option attack may seem like an easily replaceable position, Bradshaw was a dynamic player who helped bring the Army football program to national relevance over the last couple seasons.
Opening the season against Army is a change of pace for Duke, who usually tries to schedule them in the middle of the season as a “tune-up” before facing Georgia Tech, who runs a similar offense. Both the staff and players have noted that they started their game prep earlier than normal this year to get ready for the unique triple option. The extra preparation time and sour taste left from last year’s disappointing defeat should put Duke in the right state of mind to take control of the game early.
Duke will be looking for some consistency from quarterback Daniel Jones this year and it starts with game one. Jones has shown the potential to be a future NFL quarterback, but has also had some head scratching moments on the field. Now in his third year as a starter, and most importantly, healthy, he should be ready to take the next step as a college quarterback. It’s not just Jones who needs to take the next step, though. The entire group of wide receivers needs to be better. There is a talented, diverse group of pass catchers who need to step up for Duke to reach their potential this year. Duke would do well to let Brittain Brown pace the offense this year. The dynamic running back was impressive when given the opportunity last season. A charged running attack may be what the passing game needs to open things up a bit down the field.