Jones completed a career-low 33 percent of his passes against Virginia and will be looking to get ...

X Factor: Duke football vs. Florida State

After two tough losses against Miami and Virginia, Duke and its sputtering offense will have to rebound against Florida State Saturday if it wants to prevent a three-game skid.  

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: Quarterback Daniel Jones

After starting the season with one of the most explosive offensive outputs in program history, the Blue Devils have been stagnant offensively over their last two contests. Although Duke has begun to face stronger competition as ACC play has gotten underway, the Blue Devils have been unable to move the ball in the air due in part to a sophomore slump by Daniel Jones. 

Jones has failed to complete more than 58 percent of his passing attempts in each of his last four contests—the quarterback set a career low in completion percentage last week at Virginia with 33 percent. In contrast, Jones failed to surpass that mark just twice over the course of last season. 

In order for the Blue Devils to take down the struggling Seminoles, they will need Jones to get closer to his Northwestern self, when he passed for 305 yards and two touchdowns. The Charlotte, N.C., native’s struggles to thread the needle and convert on third down has eliminated Duke’s threat in the air and has put increased pressure on the defense to stop the potent offenses of the ACC.

Florida State: Wide Receiver Auden Tate

Despite the strong focus defensively to limit explosives during the offseason, the Blue Devils secondary has been burned by 30, 40, and 50-plus-yard plays time and time again over the first five weeks of the season. Thus, the matchup between constant explosive threat Auden Tate and the Duke cornerbacks seems to be in the Seminoles’ favor.

Consistency has been key for Tate, who has scored a touchdown in each of Florida State’s first four contests. The Irmo, S.C., native has been making big plays throughout the season. Tate has reeled in a reception of at least 20-yards in each game and enters Saturday’s showdown against the Blue Devils with an average of more than 17 yards per reception. Thus, the junior is capable of breaking out for a big game like he did when he gained 138 yards on nine receptions against N.C. State, especially if the Blue Devils secondary is as vulnerable as it has been in the previous weeks. 

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