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Third and Goal: Duke football vs. Virginia

A week after snapping a ten-year losing streak to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, the Blue Devils return to Durham to take on Virginia in hopes of keeping the goal of a second consecutive trip to the ACC championship game alive. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. in Wallace Wade Stadium. Here are the keys to this afternoon’s game:

More production from the passing game

So far this season, Virginia ranks second in the conference in rushing yards allowed per game at 91.5. Two weeks ago, the defense, headlined by linemen Andrew Brown, David Dean, and Eli Harold, held Pittsburgh’s star running back, sophomore James Conner, to just 83 yards on 21 carries. But despite star safeties Anthony Harris and Quin Blanding patrolling in the secondary, Virginia’s pass defense has been underwhelming, ranking 12th in the conference and allowing 239.3 yards per game through the air.

Thus, it should not come as a surprise that redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Boone will need to make more plays through the air than he has so far this season. The Weddington, N... Read more

Third and Goal: Duke football vs. Georgia Tech

Coming off of a bye week, the Blue Devils head southwest to try to hand the No. 22 Yellow Jackets their first loss of the season. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. Here are the keys to this afternoon’s game:

Stop the explosive play

Duke’s troubles stopping the run this year continued against Miami as Duke Johnson rushed for 155 yards and a score two weeks ago. In the last three games, the Blue Devils have allowed an average of 212 yards on the ground. Georgia Tech ranks 11th in the nation, averaging 297.2 rushing yards per game led by option quarterback Justin Thomas (six yards per carry) and tailback Zach Laskey (five yards per carry).

Duke must understand that it’s not going to stop the run for the entire game, but must avoid giving up explosive plays throughout the entire 60 minutes. In order to do so, the secondary must be aware of wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who caught a pair of touchdown passes in last season’s 38-14 loss and is averaging 24.2 yards per reception this season... Read more

Third and Goal: Duke football vs. Miami

In its first conference game of the year, Duke will take on Miami in hopes of remaining undefeated and beating the Hurricanes in back-to-back seasons. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium. Here are the keys to tonight’s game.

Improve Run Defense

Last week, Tulane’s only offensive success came on the ground, where the Green Wave recorded 215 yards and two touchdowns. The Blue Devils must have a much better day defending the run in order to have a chance against a Miami team that features Heisman Trophy dark horse candidate Duke Johnson running behind imposing offensive linemen Shane McDermott and Ereck Flowers.

Duke's young linebackers—true freshman Zavier Carmichael and redshirt freshman Chris Holmes—must build on the valuable experience they gained early in the season and the defensive line will have to step up without Dezmond Johnson.

Duke Johnson was hurt during the Blue Devils' 48-30 victory against the Hurricanes last year... Read more

Third and Goal: Duke football vs. Tulane

Coming off a dominant performance against Kansas, highlighted by true freshman running back Shaun Wilson’s record setting day, the Blue Devils will take on Tulane in their last nonconference game of the year. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium. Here are the keys to this afternoon’s game:

Don’t rely too much on the big play

Against Kansas last week, Duke scored touchdowns of 36 yards in the air and 69 yards, 68 yards and 45 yards on the ground. Although it obviously had great success on a number of individual plays, the Blue Devil offense struggled to move the chains at times. With five punts on the day, Will Monday saw more action that he had in the first two weeks of the season despite the team’s wide margin of victory.

This week against Tulane, it is essential that Duke does not rely on home runs as the primary source of offensive production, especially considering the Green Wave boasts a strong pass defense. Defensive end Royce LaFrance, who recorded 6... Read more

Third and goal: Duke football vs. Kansas

After a comeback victory against Troy last week, the Blue Devils return to Durham with hopes of improving to 3-0 against Charlie Weis’ Kansas Jayhawks. Kick-off is at 3:30 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium. Here are the keys to this afternoon’s game:

Force turnovers

Despite two victories by large margins, the Blue Devil defense has yet to record a turnover. Sophomore safety DeVon Edwards managed to force two fumbles against Troy, but the Duke defense recovered neither. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles would love to see the Blue Devils make a more concerted effort to attack the football when going to make hits and to see his unit wreak more havoc in general Saturday against the Jayhawks.

As for the passing game, Kansas’ dual-threat sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart struggled in limited action last season, completing just 36.5 percent of his attempts and throwing no touchdowns and two interceptions. Duke’s defensive backs, "the cheetahs," should feel comfortable being more aggressive, taking risks and jumping routes... Read more

Third and goal: Duke football vs. Troy

After a strong season-opener against the Elon Phoenix, the Blue Devils look to continue their early-season success against Troy. Kickoff at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Ala. is at 7:00 PM. Here are the three keys to Saturday’s game:

Third down success rate

Last week against Elon, Duke struggled to convert on third down opportunities, going just 3-of-12 when needing to move the chains. Despite the limited success on third down, backup quarterback Thomas Sirk was a glimmer of hope, converting two fourth and one situations, as well as taking on multiple third down chances as well; the Blue Devils made up for their inefficiency on third down by going 5-of-6 on fourth down.

But although third down conversions may not directly correlate with success, more conversions will boost momentum and increase time of possession... Read more

Third and goal: Duke football vs. Elon

Coming off a historic season and a devastating loss in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Duke opens its season against FCS opponent Elon. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium. Here are the keys to tonight’s game:

Stay Healthy

Duke has already lost star middle linebacker Kelby Brown and star tight end Braxton Deaver to season-ending knee injuries this preseason, in addition to redzone threat Brandon Connette, who transferred to Fresno State in the offseason. One has to wonder how many more injuries the Blue Devils will be able to sustain to remain relevant in the ACC’s Coastal Division, and it would be a real shame to see anyone else get hurt against an FCS opponent that went 2-10 last season.

Get All Defensive Linemen Involved

Duke lost a number of longtime starters on the defensive line in ends Kenny Anunike and Justin Foxx and tackle Sydney Sarmiento to graduation. This year, head coach David Cutcliffe has a platoon of inexperienced linemen to use around returning starter Jamal Bruce... Read more

Third and goal: Duke football vs. Texas A&M

In hopes of winning its first bowl game since 1961, No. 22 Duke takes on Johnny Manziel and No. 20 Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Kick-off is at 8 p.m. at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Here are the keys to tonight’s game:

Contain Manziel while covering downfield

At times this season, Duke has had trouble defending mobile quarterbacks. Georgia Tech’s Vad Lee, Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas, Wake Forest’s Tanner Price, and North Carolina’s Marquise Williams all had success running the ball—especially in third down situations—against the Blue Devils’ defense. Now, Duke is tasked with stopping Johnny Manziel and his ability to turn a broken play into a huge gain with his feet. Duke must contain Manziel and keep him from making explosive plays, but must also pay great attention to covering downfield. The Aggies rank seventh in the nation in passing yards per game at 350.9 and fifth overall in points per game at 43.6... Read more

Third and goal: Duke football vs. Florida State

For the first time in Duke football history, the Blue Devils will compete in the ACC Championship game, facing the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles. Kick-off is at 8 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Here are the keys to tonight’s game:

Force Winston Into Poor Decision-Making

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has allegedly made some questionable decisions off the field, so it is up to Duke’s defense to force him into making poor decisions on the field. It is easy to forget that he is only 19 years old and it is his first year starting for the Seminoles, but Winston is not experienced on the big stage. The ACC Player of the Year has thrown just eight interceptions on the year, but three of the eight have come in Florida State’s biggest games, against Clemson and Miami. It will certainly not be a simple task to apply pressure on Winston with three First-Team All-ACC offensive linemen in Cameron Erving, Tre’ Jackson and Bryan Stork protecting him... Read more

Third and goal: Duke football vs. North Carolina

Only one win away from the ACC Championship game in Charlotte, No. 24 Duke takes on rival North Carolina in their last regular season game of the year. Kick-off is at noon at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Here are the keys to this afternoon’s game:

Take away the deep ball

North Carolina’s top offensive weapon is undoubtedly junior tight end Eric Ebron. Ebron leads the Tar Heels with 50 receptions for 774 yards and will be a difficult assignment for Duke’s linebackers David Helton and Kelby Brown. Ebron is joined by wide receiver Quinshad Davis to form a pair of deep threats for quarterback Marquise Williams. Williams, who assumed the starting role when Bryn Renner went down against N.C. State, is the team’s leading rusher with 386 yards. Thus, as they should be able to limit the Tar Heels’ rushing attack, the Blue Devils must devote the majority of their attention to stopping the deep ball... Read more