Duke: Quarterback Quentin Harris
Compared with last week’s blowout loss to No. 2 Alabama, Duke should have a much easier time competing with North Carolina A&T. Although an FCS opponent, the Aggies are still a formidable program, squeaking by with a clutch win over Elon in their season opener. The Blue Devils didn’t have much to show for their passing game last weekend, but with a new quarterback and new group of receivers there wasn’t much of an opportunity to exhibit their offensive arsenal against a defense as strong as the Crimson Tide.
In his debut as the full-time starter, Harris completed 12 of 22 passes for 97 yards. Outside of one 37-yard connection to Scott Bracey, Harris averaged a mere 5.5 yards per completion. This weekend’s matchup, however, will have a much lower intensity, hopefully allowing Harris to find his groove on the field. If the Wilton, Conn. native can find his arm in this matchup, it will serve as a valuable asset, giving Duke confidence for the weeks to come.
N.C. A&T: Defensive end Jermaine McDaniel
The Aggies will have to be very strong defensively in order to keep up with the Blue Devils, though they've already shown they're capable of just that. N.C. A&T was able to hold Elon to just 19 rushing yards this past Saturday, preventing any scoring in both the second and fourth quarter. A key component in the team's defensive ability is redshirt sophomore transfer student Jermaine McDaniel.
Although he’s new to the team, McDaniel shined with eight tackles and three sacks against the Phoenix. The defensive end also played a role in the Aggies’ game-winning field goal, sacking Elon quarterback Davis Cheek for a huge 12-yard loss on the previous possession. McDaniel clearly seems to have already adjusted to his new team, meaning he'll surely have some confidence going into this matchup with the Blue Devils. If he can bring the same level of intensity that he brought last week, especially during the game's biggest moments, then N.C. A&T may have a chance in holding down the fort against Duke.