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Extra Point vs. Baylor: Duke takes care of business in first week without Jones

<p>Quentin Harris will be challenged by Alabama's elite front line and secondary.</p>

Quentin Harris will be challenged by Alabama's elite front line and secondary.

Duke continued their winning streak Saturday, defeating the Baylor Bears 40-27 behind a remarkable debut from Quentin Harris. The Blue Zone gives three key takeaways and stats and looks forward for the Blue Devils:

Three key takeaways:

  1. Quentin Harris impresses in first career start

Many thought Duke’s offense wouldn’t be able to function without Daniel Jones under center. But against Baylor, Quentin Harris proved all his doubters wrong. Although he entered Saturday with only 15 career passing attempts, the redshirt junior looked like a seasoned veteran. Harris passed for 174 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Blue Devils to an advantage that the Bears couldn’t overcome. The Connecticut native wasn’t shy to throw it downfield either, as two of Harris’ touchdowns were for over 25 yards, including a 66-yard score to Johnathan Lloyd at the end of the first half.

2. Duke transforms to run-first attack with Daniel Jones gone

Even with Harris’ impressive debut, Duke will still primarily be a run-first offense in Jones’ absence. The Blue Devils rushed 44 times for 225 yards Saturday compared to only 30 pass attempts, with the majority of those rushes coming via the first-time starter and the running back duo of Brittain Brown and Deon Jackson. Harris showed off his dual-threat abilities, with 83 rushing yards on 14 attempts. Jackson added another 83 yards on 10 attempts, while Brown took 13 carries for 55 yards of his own. Expect this trio to lead Duke’s offense over the next couple weeks. 

3. Injuries strike again

Without All-ACC cornerback Mark Gilbert for the season, Duke’s secondary took another hit early against Baylor. Michael Carter II, who replaced Gilbert last week, left the game with a leg injury and did not return. The true sophomore shone against Northwestern with eight tackles and an interception, giving hope that the Blue Devils’ defense could survive the loss of Gilbert. If Carter’s injury is serious, Duke’s pass defense may be in trouble.

Three key stats:

  1. Quentin Harris completes only 40 percent of his passes

Despite being able to get the ball downfield and use his legs, Harris still struggled quite a bit with his accuracy Saturday. The Blue Devils’ interim starter completed just 12 of his 30 attempts. Harris will need to play more efficiently if Duke hopes to remain unbeaten with Jones on the shelf.

2. No Duke turnovers

Duke turned the ball over zero times, an impressive feat considering the inexperience of their signal-caller. There were definitely a few near-interceptions throughout the day, but Harris will only become more careful with the football as he becomes more comfortable leading the offense.

3. 0 Duke penalties

Baylor had a very sloppy day on their home turf, committing six penalties for 62 yards compared to Duke’s zero. That differential made the game far more lopsided than it should have been, with the officials bailing out the Blue Devils’ defense on multiple big plays. 

Looking forward:

The Blue Devils will welcome N.C. Central to Wallace Wade Stadium next Saturday. Duke should easily be able to handle the Eagles, with its real test coming the following week against No. 13 Virginia Tech, which will be a game that could determine whether the Blue Devils are a true threat in the ACC Coastal division.