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Third and goal: Duke football hopes to carry momentum into road matchup at Virginia

Quentin Harris must utilize the screen game if Duke hopes to take down Virginia
Quentin Harris must utilize the screen game if Duke hopes to take down Virginia

After a dominating win over Georgia Tech, Duke looks to carry that success back onto the road at Virginia. The Blue Zone gives you three keys to the Blue Devils' matchup against the Cavaliers:

1. Building off momentum

Here’s a stat for the math nerd in all of us—Duke has gone on runs of 24 or more unanswered points in five consecutive games. That means that, aside from against Alabama, the Blue Devils have crushed it on both sides of the football when their momentum gets going. That surge was able to win the game in the first half alone against Georgia Tech, whereas it came too little (barely), too late against Pittsburgh. Getting stops on defense and allowing the offense to develop into a groove early will be essential in a premier matchup like Virginia. 

2. Screens and scrambles

Neither Miami nor Virginia did much on offense last week in a 17-9 slugfest. But the little success that the Hurricanes did have en route to beating the Cavaliers came from various screen passes, wheel routes and a couple of timely quarterback scrambles from fill-in starter N’Kosi Perry, including a fourth down conversion and a touchdown late to seal the victory. With an aggressive Virginia front seven that has stifled the run all year while leading the ACC in sacks, a couple of similar offensive play calls may be able to catch the overplaying defense off guard. Duke quarterback Quentin Harris should look to create some big plays with his legs. After all, passing hasn’t necessarily been a strong suit for the Blue Devils, who rank 13th out of 14 teams in the ACC in passing yards. 

3. Win the turnover battle

With two strong defenses, a Duke team that struggles passing the ball and a Virginia squad that struggles to run the ball, this game has all the makings of a defensive battle. Opportunities may be few and far between, meaning that the Blue Devils must protect the football and capitalize on any turnovers they create. The Cavaliers rank worst in the ACC and tie for sixth worst in the nation in turnover differential at -7, presenting a chance for Duke to climb atop the ACC Coastal Division. 

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