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Five takeaways and more from Duke football's first half against Baylor

Deon Jackson put Duke on the board with a 31-yard touchdown run.
Deon Jackson put Duke on the board with a 31-yard touchdown run.

WACO, Texas—Duke enters the locker room at McLane Stadium with a 23-0 lead against Baylor. Here are our thoughts on the first half as the Blue Devils look to improve to 3-0 for the second consecutive campaign.

Five Observations

  1. Quentin Harris struggled throwing the ball in the beginning of his first career start. After completing a nine-yard pass to Johnathan Lloyd on the Blue Devils’ first offensive play, Harris could not connect with his receivers on the next seven attempts, but made two deep second-quarter touchdown passes as he finished the half 8-for-21 with 142 passing yards.
  2. Duke found success on the ground during the first 30 minutes, using a triple threat of Harris, Deon Jackson and Brittain Brown. Jackson put the Blue Devils on the board with a 31-yard eruption with 7:56 left in the opening quarter, and Harris has added 38 yards on the ground in the contest.
  3. Baylor beat itself in the first half with a few miscues responsible for its large deficit. Duke's Josh Blackwell forced a fumble which set up Jackson’s touchdown run. The Bears also missed an opportunity later in the quarter when receiver Jalen Hurd dropped the ball on a play where he beat the defender and could have walked into the end zone to tie the score.
  4. The Blue Devil front line looked strong defending the run once again. Baylor’s running backs have combined for just 1.6 yards per carry on 10 first-half attempts. Duke has given up longer runs when it has forced quarterbacks Charlie Brewer and Jalan McClendon to scramble, however, and they gained 40 yards on the ground in the half. 
  5. Baylor’s defensive vulnerabilities from last season were prevalent once again in the first half. In last year’s 34-20 Duke victory, each of the game’s touchdowns was on a play of at least 30 yards. Today’s Duke scores have been 31-yard, 28-yard and 66-yard plays, keeping up with the trend.

By the numbers

  • Zero points for Baylor: The Blue Devil defense continued its strong start to the season in the first half Saturday. Duke has not allowed a score since Northwestern scored on its first possession last weekend in Evanston, Ill. and has silenced a potent offensive attack.
  • 19:21 time of possession for Baylor: Despite the Blue Devils' lead, Baylor’s offense controlled the pace through the first 30 minutes of play. However, mistakes have stalled the Bears’ drives, and the Blue Devils have capitalized so far.
  • 0-for-2 on field goals for Baylor: The Bears tried to get on the board twice with a pair of 40-plus yard attempts, but have been unable to convert. Connor Martin was wide left on a 44-yard attempt with 11:03 to go in the first half, and Duke’s Marquis Waters got a hand on Martin’s second attempt, sending it short.

A moment that mattered

After losing All-ACC cornerback Mark Gilbert for the season against Northwestern, the Blue Devils' nightmare sequence continued when Gilbert’s replacement, Michael Carter II, went down around the 12-minute mark of the first quarter. Carter was helped off the field and will not return after suffering a leg injury.

Michael Model

Digital Strategy Director for Vol. 115, Michael was previously Sports Editor for Vol. 114 and Assistant Blue Zone Editor for Vol. 113.  Michael is a senior majoring in Statistical Science and is interested in data analytics and using data to make insights.


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