Duke vs. Baylor Preview

Quentin Harris | Photo: © Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

When: Saturday, September 15, 2018. 3:30 pm

Where: McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas

Television: Fox Sports 1

Line: Duke +6.5

Last Time: Duke 34, Baylor 20.  The Duke defense clamped down in the fourth quarter and a Ben Humphreys’ pick six gave enough separation on the score board for Duke to pull out the victory in a game that was much closer than expected.  Shaun Wilson stole the show on offense, breaking off touchdown runs of 65 and 50 yards, totaling 176 rushing yards and 32 receiving yards on the day.  Brittain Brown added a 34 yard touchdown run of his own.  Joe Giles-Harris and Jeremy McDuffie also grabbed interceptions in the victory and Drew Jordan recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter to help Duke hold on.  Daniel Jones was sacked five times and only managed 184 passing yards on the day, but the strong running game and timely defense moved Duke to 3-0 to begin the 2017 season.

Game Preview

Duke’s devastating rash of injuries really makes forecasting this game difficult.  The Blue Devils will be without All-ACC corner Mark Gilbert, due to a dislocated hip, and without quarterback Daniel Jones, who suffered a fractured clavicle against Northwestern.  Quentin Harris will start under center for Duke and while he has been with the program for several years now, we haven’t ever seen him in real game situations that weren’t in a blowout game, or the occasional goal line rushing play.  While it would be foolish to assume Harris will step in and be Daniel Jones 2.0, the coaches and players seem to have confidence in Harris and his ability to step in and lead the Blue Devils.  Duke has gotten improved play from the wide receivers so far this year, and that could go a long way into the offense being able to replicate its production with Jones under center.  After a season of fans begging for more touches for Brittain Brown and the rest of the backfield, the Duke offense has shown a willingness to lean on the runningbacks.   Both Brown and Deon Jackson have proven capable of shouldering the load and they may be getting even more touches if the coaches want to keep things simple for Harris.

Baylor comes into the contest at 2-0 with victories over Abilene Christian and UTSA.  The Blue Devil defense, even without Gilbert and possibly McDuffie, will be a big step up in competition for the Bears offense.  The Bears’ offense is averaging 357 passing yards per game on a 65% completion percentage and 5.8 yards per rush on the ground.  They have been really balanced to this point so it will be interesting to see what Duke makes their primary focus defensively.  The Baylor defense has not been as impressive allowing their opponents 6 yards per carry on the ground.  Opposing quarterbacks are completing 61% of their passes.  Duke should be able to control the line of scrimmage on offense and get Brown and Jackson going to open up things for Harris to ease into the passing attack.

The Bears sacked Daniel Jones five times in last year’s matchup.  It will be important for the offensive line to protect Harris and give him time to make his reads and not make mistakes.  Duke allowed three sacks last week at Northwestern and could be without veteran center Zach Harmon.  Harmon went down late in the game due to injury and his status for Saturday is unknown at this time.

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