Duke had its best offensive performance in a half against an ACC opponent in 20 years en route to a dominating 41-23 win over the Yellow Jackets. The last time they scored over 38 points in a half was against Wake Forest in 1999. The Blue Zone gives three key takeaways, stats and looks forward for the Blue Devils:
Three Key Takeaways:
1. Duke football can adapt on the fly
The second quarter is easily Duke’s favorite quarter. The Blue Devils scored 28 points in the second quarter against Georgia Tech, which adds to the 59 total points they scored in the second quarters of their previous four games. It turns out that head coach David Cutcliffe and his staff don’t need an entire half to rework game plans and strategies; the commercial break between the first and second quarters seems to be enough. Although Duke has had problems with getting off to slow starts, they always seem to turn it around with solid performances in the second quarter. As we’ve seen before, these performances usually affect the rest of the game in the Blue Devils’ favor.
2. Offense isn’t everything
Georgia Tech and Duke had the same number of first downs. The Yellow Jackets also had more total yards than the Blue Devils. Given those two pieces of information, could the average football fan be able to accurately determine the score of this game? Probably not. Although the above stats are true, a Georgia Tech win proved unlikely from the second quarter on. This shows that many factors went into determining the outcome of the game. The blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown is an example of a play that caused the outcome of the game to shift in the Blue Devils’ favor. Although the return did not count under offensive yards, it did add seven points to the board for Duke and shifted the momentum at a pivotal point in the game. Blue Devil fans should be glad the team won the battles that meant the most.
3. Momentum is key
You can't score 38 unanswered points without a little bit of momentum. That's exactly what the Blue Devils had after their first field goal and touchdown against Georgia Tech. After that, it was smooth sailing. Even in the loss against Pittsburgh, Duke was able to score 27 straight points in the second half to pull the team back into the game. Similar patterns of bursts of high offensive productivity can be found in every contest except the one against Alabama. When given the opportunity to build momentum, the Blue Devils should try to attain it by any means necessary, as it is usually a good indicator of their future success.
Three Key Stats:
1. Duke scores 38 consecutive points in the first half
In the game’s opening drive, the Georgia Tech offense marched 75 yards down the field to take a commanding 7-0 lead. It would take the Yellow Jackets almost an entire half to do that again. In the meantime, the Duke offense warmed up with a 33-yard field goal followed by five straight touchdowns. By the time Georgia Tech hit 14 points, the Blue Devils were just under 40. In those first 30 minutes of the game, the Duke offense seemed unstoppable. The team will look to repeat that kind of performance for the remainder of its ACC schedule.
2. Three sacks for Victor Dimukeje
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In honor of Duke basketball’s Countdown to Craziness this coming Friday, Victor Dimukeje decided to set up a tent in Georgia Tech’s backfield. The junior defensive end had a career day, getting to the opposing quarterback seemingly at will and finishing with six total tackles, half of which were sacks. To put his performance in perspective, the last time a Duke player had three sacks against an ACC opponent was in 2003, back when Justin Timberlake was asking people to cry him rivers and the guy from Terminator was doing politics.
3. 176 passing yards vs. 197 rushing yards for Duke
Duke looked more like the Georgia Tech of years past than Georgia Tech itself did in this game. Finishing with more rushing yards than passing yards, the Blue Devils showed that they are a patient, well-disciplined team. By mixing runs with passes and letting drives develop, Duke was able to take advantage of the Yellow Jackets' antsy defense. In total, five Blue Devils took the ball out of the backfield, leading the charge against the opposition’s defensive line.
Oh, and another additional fact: Duke has now won all six of its coin tosses so far this season.
Next Saturday at 3:30 p.m., the Blue Devils head to Charlottesville, Va. to take on the Virginia Cavaliers, who are coming off a loss to unranked ACC opponent Miami (FL). The Cavaliers, who were previously ranked No. 20 nationally, will be looking to avenge their loss with a powerful performance at home. If Duke doesn’t become complacent after its dominant win over Georgia Tech, expect this game to be a thriller.