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Since a win against North Carolina Sept. 23, Daniel Jones has struggled along with Duke, which has lost ...

Third and goal: Duke football vs. Pittsburgh



Coming off of three consecutive losses, Duke aims to get back on track as it welcomes a struggling Pittsburgh Panthers team to Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday. The Blue Devils will look to get more production out of their offense and pick up a much-needed win Saturday afternoon. Here are three keys to the ACC tilt:

Lean on the running game

Head coach David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils have run the ball only 57 times in the last two weeks, both times failing to have a rusher reach 100 yards. If there was ever a time to change the game plan, it’s this Saturday. Duke will see a favorable matchup against a Pittsburgh defense that was torched last week for 248 rushing yards by NC State and has already surrendered more than 1,200 rushing yards on the season. Duke’s duo of running backs, Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown, have been the only consistent part of the offense, averaging 5.8 and 6.0 yards per game respectively, and are bound to get more touches Saturday afternoon. 

Bring the heat

Both teams have struggled to protect their passers, so it will be crucial for the Duke defensive line to keep the pressure high throughout the contest and prevent Pittsburgh’s inexperienced quarterbacks from finding any comfort. The Panthers started the year with USC transfer Max Browne under center, but after he suffered a season-ending injury, will turn to sophomore quarterback Ben DiNucci. The sophomore threw only nine passes his entire freshman season, and will be on a tight leash Saturday afternoon, with freshman Kenny Pickett also vying for time. Regardless of who’s under center, Mike Ramsay and Duke’s stubborn defense could be in for a big day.

Get Daniel Jones back in rhythm

It’s been a miserable three-week stretch for Duke’s highly-regarded, quarterback who has only thrown for 200 yards once in the losing streak and has gotten little help from a struggling receiving corps. This week presents a golden opportunity for Cutcliffe to get Daniel Jones back in a rhythm and have him regain some confidence after throwing for only one touchdown and three interceptions in the last three weeks. Pittsburgh is ranked 120th in the nation in passing defense, having allowed 1,880 passing yards, so it is more than likely that the duo of Jones and No. 1 receiver T.J. Rahming could be back with a bang.


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