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Duke vs. North Carolina Central Preview

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When: Saturday, September 22, 2018. 3:30 pm

Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, North Carolina

Television: None. Stream on ACC Network Extra on WatchESPN

Line: Duke -43

Last Time: Duke 60, NC Central 7.  Brittain Brown made his Duke debut one to remember, rushing for 120 yards and 1 touchdown on just 10 carries in the blowout win.  Shaun Wilson, Daniel Jones, and Quentin Harris all added rushing touchdowns in the win.  Jones added 2 touchdown in the air, one to Aaron Young and one to Johnathan Lloyd.  Bryon Field took an interception 28 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to open up a 14-0 lead.  The Eagles ended the shutout on an 81 yard touchdown run with just over 7 minutes remaining in the second quarter, but weren’t able to score again.  The game was one for the record books in multiple ways for the Blue Devils.  The 60 points were the most scored by a Duke team since 1949.  This game also saw Daniel Jones surpass 3000 passing yards, making him the 16th Duke quarterback to accomplish that milestone.

Game Preview

Duke has taken the “next man up” philosophy to another level to start the season.  Game after game has seen more Duke starters go down with injury only for the reserves to step in and play like they’ve been there the whole time.  It speaks to the quality of recruiting and coaching to have this kind of depth ready on both sides of the ball.  Many experts were skeptical that Duke would be able to weather the storm of losing All-ACC corner Mark Gilbert and starting quarterback Daniel Jones in the same week, combined with the other injuries being felt across the starting lineup.  The Blue Devils didn’t miss a beat in their second straight road victory over a Power 5 opponent, making it look easy against Baylor.  Quentin Harris stepped into the quarterback role and played a complete game, throwing for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns and adding 83 rushing yards, and most importantly, no turnovers.  Harris struggled a bit on the short throws, but showed great touch on the deep routes.  The offensive line, despite succumbing to some in game injuries didn’t allow a sack on the day, allowing Harris to get comfortable in the pocket and make good decisions.

After week one, Aaron Young appeared to be the deep threat the Blue Devils desperately needed this season.  However, Young has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.  The good news is the rest of the Duke receivers have been able to fill the void in his absence.  Johnathan Lloyd looks to have established himself as an explosive play threat, taking a pass 66 yards for a touchdown against Baylor to go with his 52 yard touchdown reception the previous week against Northwestern.  Not to discredit the Eagles, but the staff may opt to rest Young this week once again, even if he appears healthy.  Hamstring injuries have a way of lingering if they aren’t carefully nursed and the risk of losing him in conference play outweighs the benefit of seeing him back on the field against an FCS opponent.   TJ Rahming has been on a tear so far this season as well, equaling his total touchdown mark from last season already.  Lloyd and Rahming, along with Chris Taylor and the tight end duo of Daniel Helm and Davis Koppenhaver should be more than sufficient receiving targets for Harris this week against NC Central.

Duke has played a lot of players in each game so far this season, even without the required substitutions for injury.  Look for that to continue this week against NC Central as the Blue Devils look to stay as fresh and healthy as possible as they prepare for their ACC opener against Virginia Tech next Saturday night.