Third and goal: Duke football vs. Virginia

Third and goal: Duke football vs. Virginia

Following its 38-35 comeback victory over Notre Dame, Duke returns home to face off against a 1-3 Virginia team. The Cavaliers earned their first victory of the season against Central Michigan, with their offense exploding for nearly 600 total yards of offense. As the Blue Devils look to earn their first conference victory of the season, here are three keys to the game:

Contain Virginia’s prolific offense

Although they were shut down against Connecticut two weeks ago, the Cavaliers move the ball—a lot. Junior quarterback Kurt Benkert averages almost 300 passing yards per game, and the senior running back duo of Albert Reid and Taquan Mizzell average 6.0 and 5.3 yards per carry, respectively. Duke should remember some of these faces from its loss at Virginia last year, when Mizzell torched Duke for three touchdowns. This attack will be especially difficult to stop without two-time All-ACC safety DeVon Edwards, who is out for the season after tearing his ACL and MCL last weekend against the Fighting Irish. Blue Devil safeties Alonzo Saxton II and Jordan Hayes will need to step up in his absence.

Continue to emphasize the ground game

Although the Blue Devils do most of their damage through the air via redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones, those passes really open up for him when opponents are forced to respect Duke’s running game. Redshirt senior Jela Duncan will be out with an ankle injury Saturday after rushing for a career-high 121 yards on the ground against Notre Dame, so junior running back Shaun Wilson will need to fill that void to keep the offensive attack balanced.

Carry momentum over from the big win

Last weekend, Duke was able to upset a team that was ranked in the preseason top 10. That kind of win—especially for a program without co-captains Thomas Sirk and DeVon Edwards for the rest of the year—could boost the Blue Devils' confidence for the rest of the year, and the team’s ability to fight through a disappointing start to the season should resonate in the locker room. To put icing on the cake, freshman kicker A.J. Reed finally made his first field goal of the year, and it just so happened to be a game winner. Although it was shorter than an extra point at 19 yards, it was important for Reed to get that monkey off his back so the team can count on him going forward.  Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke football vs. Virginia

Chronicle pregame: Duke football vs. Virginia

The Chronicle's Brian Mazur and Sam Turken preview Duke's matchup against Virginia Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium. Although the Blue Devils are coming off a thrilling 38-35 win against Notre Dame a week ago, Duke will be without running back Jela Duncan for the matchup against the Cavaliers. The Blue Devils will look to take care of the football and lean on their defense to shut down Virginia and move the team to 3-2 on the season. 

X Factor: Duke football vs. Virginia

X Factor: Duke football vs. Virginia

Duke will hope to avoid a letdown Saturday at home against Virginia after a shocking win last week at Notre Dame. The Blue Devils’ offense was finally clicking in all phases, but the Cavaliers also have a strong passing game and notched their first win of the season last week against Central Michigan. Every week throughout the football season, the Blue Zone will break down a player on each team who could be the difference-maker in the upcoming contest:

Duke: Safety Alonzo Saxton II

Saxton was forced into action against the Fighting Irish when starting safety and co-captain DeVon Edwards tore his ACL and MCL early in the first quarter, and he rose to the occasion with five tackles and a pass breakup. Saxton also forced a fumble in Duke’s loss to Wake Forest Sept. 10. The Columbus, Ohio, native will have to maintain his high level of play Saturday and for the rest of the season in Edwards’ absence, and the Blue Devils’ secondary will have its hands full against Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert, who has thrown for 279.8 yards per game this season.

Although Saxton is expected to get his first start of the season Saturday, he is no stranger to the playing field. The junior started eight games last year at cornerback while Bryon Fields was sidelined with a torn ACL, finishing the season with 38 tackles and one interception before transitioning back to the rover safety position in the offseason. Edwards' production—an All-ACC defensive back and All-American kick returner—will likely be impossible to replace, but Duke is fortunate to have a reserve ready to step in with as much experience as Saxton. The Columbus, Ohio, native may share time in the defensive backfield with redshirt freshman Jordan Hayes, who led the Blue Devils with seven tackles last week. Read more »

Recruiting roundup: Duke coaches visit top-10 prospects Trent Jr. and Bamba

We'll start this week's roundup with a look at a pair of visits by the Blue Devils' coaching staff to prospects in the Class of 2017. 

Duke's contingent visited five-star guard Gary Trent Jr. Tuesday in hopes of working their way to an eventual commitment from the high school senior. Trent is the No. 8 prospect in the 2017 ESPN 100 and holds tremendous value to programs around the nation due to his connection with the No. 3 overall prospect Wendell Carter. Trent and Carter have stated their interest in choosing a program as a package deal, and the Blue Devils are expected to land both highly-touted recruits. 

Trent took to Twitter to highlight his visit with Duke's coaching staff this week.  

Duke in the MLB: Stroman shuts down Yankees in Blue Jays' win

Former Blue Devil Marcus Stroman turned in another stellar performance in a no-decision against the New York Yankees Saturday afternoon. 

The 5-foot-8 right-hander was dominant in seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five to improve his ERA to 4.34. In a crucial game for the Toronto Blue Jays' playoff implications, Stroman was locked in a pitcher’s duel against the veteran left-hander C.C. Sabathia. Both pitchers neutralized their opponents through seven innings, with the two starters combining to allow just five hits.

In a game that had the makings of a third straight wasted quality start for Stroman, the Blue Jays' offense finally erupted in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs and nobody on base, Josh Donaldson singled and Edwin Encarnacion walked to set the table for cleanup hitter Jose Bautista. Bautista delivered in a big way by blasting a 2-0 pitch over the left-field wall, giving his team a 3-0 lead that held up as the final score.

Stock Watch: Duke football reverses skid with stunner at Notre Dame

Stock Watch: Duke football reverses skid with stunner at Notre Dame

The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has rung again, meaning it's time to take a look at who is rising and falling with their performances for Blue Devil sports teams. Each week, the Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the world of Duke athletics.

Bull Market—Trending Up:

Duke football: In one of the biggest upsets in program history, Duke overcame a 14-0 first-quarter deficit and a 35-28 fourth-quarter deficit to claim a much-needed victory against Notre Dame. Duke (2-2), a 20-point underdog entering Saturday’s game, was coming off a 24-13 loss to Northwestern to play a historically strong Fighting Irish team at Notre Dame Stadium.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns—the best performance of his young career. Redshirt senior wide receiver Anthony Nash had a career game with 123 receiving yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yard catch-and-run touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to tie the game at 35. The Blue Devils' running game also improved tremendously, with 208 rushing yards after combining for 154 yards on the ground in back-to-back losses to Wake Forest and the Wildcats.  Read more »

This week in Duke history: Duke football welcomes African-American opponent to Durham in 1950

This week in Duke history: Duke football welcomes African-American opponent to Durham in 1950

The nation may currently be dealing with the intersection of race and sports, but the issue is certainly not new.

It hit home for Duke Sept. 30, 1950, when the Associated Press recapped the Blue Devils' 28-14 victory against Pittsburgh. The Panthers featured tackle Flint Greene—who became the first African-American football player to play a Southern Conference game in North Carolina.

The milestone came three years after Jackie Robinson made his major-league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers and several years before the Civil Rights movement picked up the momentum that resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The article included a statement issued by Duke President Hollis Edens: Read more »

Duke football player of the week: Week 4

Duke football player of the week: Week 4

Daniel Jones

Statline: 24-for-32, 290 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, one interception.

The good: Redshirt freshman Daniel Jones led the Blue Devils to a comeback win in one of the most hostile environments in all of college football to pull off a 38-35 upset against Notre Dame. After delivering solid performances the past few weeks, the Charlotte native had the game of his young career, as he showed a level of poise and mastery of the offense beyond his years. Jones entered the game leading all FBS freshmen in passing yards, total offense and completions, and he came out of it with a more solidified position on the top of those statistical leaderboards. Read more »

Around the ACC: Week 4

In a weekend that saw ACC teams go 8-0 against nonconference opponents, The Blue Zone breaks down the performances of the ACC's 12 teams in action.

Duke 38, Notre Dame 35

Duke (2-2) rode into South Bend, Ind., as a 20-point underdog, prepared to play against one of the most storied programs in college football in front of its sold-out home crowd of 80,000 at Notre Dame Stadium. The Blue Devils came home with a shocking victory, as quarterback Daniel Jones threw for three touchdowns and freshman kicker A.J. Reed, who had missed his first three college field-goal attempts, kicked the game-winner through the uprights to seal the deal. Duke rallied from an early 14-point deficit and a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to snap its two-game losing streak.

North Carolina 37, Pittsburgh 36 Read more »

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 4

Four showdowns between ranked teams in Week 4 started to create some separation at the top of the major conferences.

Wisconsin makes B1G statement 

Although they came away with a victory against then-No.5 LSU in the first week of the season, the Badgers entered their contest against Michigan State looking to make a statement to prove that the upset of the Tigers was no fluke. They did that and more with a dominant 30-6 victory on the road that catapulted the team to No. 8 in this week's rankings. Wisconsin's defense forced four turnovers and will face an even tougher challenge next week on the road against No. 4 Michigan. The Spartans suffered their first loss of the season and tumbled from No. 8 to No. 17.

SEC picture begins to emerge  Read more »