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Extra point: Duke football vs. Florida State

Daniel Jones was better against Florida State, but it wasn't enough to beat the Seminoles.
Daniel Jones was better against Florida State, but it wasn't enough to beat the Seminoles.

After a perfect 4-0 start to the season, Duke and its sputtering offense dropped its third straight game, a 17-10 loss to Florida State at Wallace Wade Stadium. 

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Protect Daniel Jones: As it did against Virginia, Duke’s offensive line was improved in protecting Jones, allowing just one sack—when the signal-caller held onto the ball for just a bit too long in a two-minute drill. The redshirt sophomore generally had time to throw, and the results showed it—he completed 22-of-35 passing attempts for 204 yards, much better than his 14-of-42 showing last week against Virginia. 
  • Put pressure on James Blackman: Duke did a passable job of bringing heat on the true freshman quarterback, sacking him twice. The Blue Devils generally did well to limit explosive passing plays, yielding just two plays of more than 20 yards and 197 passing yards, but allowed him to be efficient, completing 18-of-21 passes. The Blue Devil secondary also continued its knack for big plays, picking off Blackman twice. 
  • Jump out early: Duke’s blueprint for success earlier in the season was to jump out to a big lead early with its offense. It certainly didn’t do that Saturday, allowing running backs Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick to manhandle its defense for 70 yards and a score on Florida State’s first two drives, while punting on its first possession. However, Mark Gilbert’s interception deep in Duke territory in the first quarter stalled the Seminoles’ momentum and prevented them from going up 14-0. 

Three key plays: 

14:54 remaining, second quarter: With Florida State driving deep downfield and threatening to go up 14-0 at the Blue Devil 22-yard line, the Seminoles were flagged for a delay of game penalty after the break for the end of the first quarter. After that, Florida State moved back, and on third-and-20, a Seminole receiver slipped on a Blackman throw, allowing Gilbert to intercept it. From there, Duke drove downfield to score a field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 and get back in the game. 

3:28 remaining, second quarter: Down just 7-3, Duke was driving on the back of Brittain Brown's three straight carries for a combined 34 yards. But the Blue Devils opted for a trick play on first-and-10 from Florida State’s 36-yard line, which ended in disaster. Shaun Wilson took a pitch and tried to throw it downfield to tight end Daniel Helm in triple coverage, but the pass was deflected up and picked off by the Seminoles Emmett Rice. The play killed Duke’s momentum and prevented it from taking a potential lead into halftime. 

14:18 remaining, fourth quarter: After Jeremy McDuffie picked off Blackman at the end of the third, the Blue Devils had the ball near midfield and had momentum on their side. But after two straight Wilson carries, Duke faced third-and-4 and subbed in quarterback Quentin Harris for Jones. Harris threw an incomplete pass and the Blue Devils went three-and-out. 

Three key stats: 

  • Florida State holds the ball for 36:44. The Seminoles’ methodical offense gave Duke few opportunities to score by holding the ball for so long, rushing for a whopping 5.7 yards per carry on 40 attempts. 
  • Three touchdowns in three games. Duke’s offense has ground to a halt in three straight losses, scoring just three offensive touchdowns in those games. 
  • Jones’ 22-of-35 passing attempts. Although he wasn’t able to push the ball down the field much, Jones was better against the Seminoles, completing 62.9 percent of his passes. 

And the Duke game ball goes to....T.J. Rahming

On a slow day for all other Blue Devil receivers, Rahming was able to break loose downfield for a 57-yard catch on a Jones scramble and had eight receptions for 111 yards. No other receiver had more than 21 yards. The team’s No. 1 threat, Rahming will be a major key going forward for Jones to establish the vertical passing game. 

And the Florida State game ball goes to….Cam Akers

Akers sliced up Duke's No. 7 rush defense for 115 yards on 15 carries and scored a 42-yard game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Paired with Patrick in the backfield, Akers was too much of a physical force for the Blue Devils to handle. 

Ben Leonard

Managing Editor 2018-19, 2019-2020 Features & Investigations Editor 

A member of the class of 2020 hailing from San Mateo, Calif., Ben is The Chronicle's Towerview Editor and Investigations Editor. Outside of the Chronicle, he is a public policy major working towards a journalism certificate, has interned at the Tampa Bay Times and NBC News and frequents Pitchforks. 


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