Daniel Jones and Duke's offense will look to start the season right against North Carolina Central. ...

X Factor: Duke football vs. North Carolina Central

With North Carolina Central making the short trip to Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday, the Blue Devils will look to get their ducks in a row in their first regular season game. Duke blew past the FCS Eagles 49-6 in last year’s matchup. 

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. 

N.C. Central: running back Ramone Simpson

The Eagles will come into this game with concerns in their passing offense, especially after losing their No. 1 receiver Jalen Wilkes  to suspension and lacking an experienced quarterback. If N.C. Central wants to have any chance at pulling a colossal upset of the Blue Devils, it will have to lean on its rushing attack, featuring two talented backs in juniors Dorrel McClain and Ramone Simpson.

While McClain, a former All-MEAC First teamer, is the more highly touted of the two, Duke will watch out for Ramone Simpson in this one. When McClain was afflicted with injuries early last season, Simpson stepped up in a big way. He ran for 632 yards and five touchdowns while averaging almost five yards per carry and started the final seven games at running back.  

But Simpson is also a talented a receiver—he racked up 238 receiving yards. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will likely look to try and slow him out of the backfield. 

Duke: wide receiver T.J. Rahming

With second year quarterback Daniel Jones seeking to improve on last year’s breakout season, he will need to get in rhythym with his receiving corps. 

He will look to his No.1 receiver frequently to try to continue the momentum he built late last season from the pocket. The 5-foot-10 receiver has had another year to mesh with Jones after leading the team with 70 receptions for 742 yards, including closing the season with three straight games of at least eight receptions and 100 yards. 

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