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Making the Grade: Duke's defense shines in win over Georgia Tech


The Duke defense swarmed Georgia Tech ball carriers all game.

Propelled by a dominant defensive performance, Duke cruised to a 28-14 victory over Georgia Tech. The Blue Zone hands out grades to every Blue Devil unit: 

Offense: B

Pass: Duke's offense came out to a slow start but gelled when it mattered most. In the Blue Devils' game-defining 21-point swing late in the third quarter, Duke relied on Daniel Jones' arm for all three touchdowns. Although the Blue Devils whiffed on some key plays in the air such as when Aaron Young let a wide-open pass sail right through his fingers that would have put Duke up 14-7 early in the second half, Duke totaled a solid 206 passing yards on 17 for 27 throwing.

Rush: Despite relying almost exclusively on Deon Jackson while Brittain Brown still wasn't at 100 percent, the Blue Devils' running game was as solid as ever. The true sophomore averaged 4.7 yards per carry and totaled 98 yards in addition to a touchdown less than two minutes into the game. Although Jones contributed some runs, most were in desperate scrambles that resulted in either a minimal gain or loss in yardage.

X's and O's: Although Duke's offense was far from perfect—Jones was sacked four times and the Blue Devils failed to score in the first half after their opening touchdown—it came together when it mattered most to convert on three back-to-back Georgia Tech turnovers late in the third quarter to seal the afternoon.

Defense: A+

Pass: Although the Yellow Jackets caught the Blue Devils by surprise with a 32-yard touchdown pass from TaQuon Marshall, Duke regrouped and shunted a majority of Georgia Tech's attempts through the air. The Blue Devils sacked Marshall and backup quarterback Tobias Oliver a total of three times and limited the Yellow Jackets to 125 receiving yards.

Rush: The Blue Devils absolutely earned their stripes in stopping Georgia Tech's dreaded triple option. Duke limited the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation to just 229 yards on the ground, the Yellow Jackets' second-worst rushing performance of the season. The Blue Devils' linebacker trio of Chris Rumph II, Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys put on a clinic in crushing the option, combining for 33 tackles with Rumph contributing four tackles for loss, while Humphreys added two of his own.

X's and O's: Yet again, Duke's high-caliber defense bailed the Blue Devils' offense out when it mattered most. Georgia Tech's go-to offensive scheme was absolutely crippled as Duke put on one of its strongest defensive showings of the season.

Special Teams: A

Although no field goals were attempted on either side of the ball, the Blue Devils' special teams made the key plays needed to put the game away. After the Blue Devils secured a 14-point lead at 21-7, Mateo Durant forced a fumble in the ensuing kickoff return that Duke recovered, leading to the Blue Devils' final touchdown of the afternoon. With just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets attempted an onside kick but Jack Bobo made the catch, ensuring Duke maintained control of the final minutes of the game.