When: Saturday, October 13, 2018. 12:20 pm
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Television: ACC Network Local Affiliate
Line: Duke +3
Last Time: Duke 43, Georgia Tech 20. The Blue Devils ended a six game losing streak and kept their bowl hopes alive with a resounding win over the Yellow Jackets last season. In his last game in Wallace Wade Stadium, running back Shaun Wilson compiled 156 all purpose yards, and added two touchdown receptions and one touchdown pass to quarterback Daniel Jones. The Blue Devils ran all over the Georgia Tech defense. Brittain Brown added 116 rushing yards and a touchdown. Daniel Jones tallied 91 rushing yards and a touchdown to go with 177 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air. After going into the halftime break tied, the Duke defense pitched a shutout in the second half. Duke gave up nearly 6 yards per rush to the triple option attack, but held when it counted. Georgia Tech went 6-12 on third down conversion attempts and 0-2 on fourth down. With their unstoppable rushing attack Duke held the ball for an astounding 21:07 of a possible 30:00 in the second half.
Duke has had an extra week to soak in the disappointing defeat to Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils had plenty to focus on and correct to ensure the debacle that followed last season’s 4-0 start doesn’t repeat itself again in 2018. Duke went on a six game losing streak in 2017 following a promising start to the year before turning it around to win their last three games, including the Quick Lane Bowl victory. Coincidentally it was a win over Georgia Tech that got Duke back on the winning side last season.
In their last game against the Hokies, Duke struggled to get anything going consistently on offense. The Blue Devils just missed on a few big plays that saw Daniel Jones passes go off the receiver’s hands. Big play misses aside, the real issue for the Duke offense was the inability to run the football. Virginia Tech was able to control the line of scrimmage with just three down linemen for most of the game, allowing the secondary to sit back in a zone and limit any passing threat. The Duke offensive line has to do better at opening up running lanes and keeping pressure off of Jones. The Georgia Tech defense is middle of the road when it comes to rushing defense, allowing 4.6 yards per carry. They rank near the bottom of FBS teams when it comes to sacking the quarterback, so Jones should be allowed time in the pocket to make some plays. Opponents are completing nearly 64% of their passes against the Yellow Jackets for an average of 266 yards per game. So this could be a big game for Daniel Jones after getting his confidence back in the last game returning from injury. Jones will have to be smart, though. While the Yellow Jackets have given up plenty of passes, they’ve been one of the best teams in the nation when it comes to interceptions, with 8 through the first six games.
Paul Johnson’s triple option attack can be tough for opposing defenses. Cutcliffe’s teams have generally prepared pretty well for triple option opponents. The Blue Devils have also recently been able to use their game against Army as sort of a warm up for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are going to rack up the yards on the ground, its a guarantee. The key is putting them in difficult third and fourth down situations. They average over 6 yards per carry so they will stay aggressive in fourth and short situations. One area of concern for Duke that was noticeable in the season opener against Army was the Duke secondary giving up big passing plays. The element of surprise could have played a large part there, but you can be sure Paul Johnson noticed. Duke can’t fall asleep and let the Yellow Jackets’ receivers sneak by. Duke hopes to have corner Michael Carter back this week, which will bring some much needed depth to the secondary. If so, Duke may be able to move Jeremy McDuffie back to safety full time to help provide the coverage on top of the defense.