In the middle of a three game losing streak, the Blue Devils welcome Syracuse to town as the regular season begins to wind down. The Blue Zone gives you three keys to a Duke win Saturday:
1. Attack the perimeter
Syracuse’s secondary has struggled mightily in 2019, ranking 106th in passing yards allowed nationally. With the Blue Devils’ depth and skill at receiver, offensive coordinator Zac Roper should attack the Orange secondary with different route combinations all over the field. Look for Aaron Young, Jalon Calhoun and Scott Bracey to play substantial roles offensively, with the onus being on quarterback Quentin Harris to pick apart an embattled Syracuse secondary.
2. Approaching last call for a bowl
Duke has made a bowl game in five out of the previous six seasons under David Cutcliffe’s revitalization of the program. However, with the season winding down and the Blue Devils still stuck at four wins, Saturday’s game presents a must-win scenario. Duke closes out the season with a road game against Wake Forest and a Thanksgiving weekend home tilt with Miami. A win over Syracuse will mean that the Blue Devils only need to win one of their final two games to reach the necessary six wins.
3. Bring the heat
Duke’s pass rush ranks 43rd in total sacks this season, and while this is clearly a strong suit of the defense, each of the last three losses has featured limited pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Blue Devils will need to get to Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito quickly in order to disrupt the Orange’s air raid passing attack. Victor Dimukeje will need to make a major impact in order for Duke to prevent DeVito from producing chunk plays down the field.
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Max Rego is a Trinity senior and an associate sports editor for The Chronicle's 118th volume. He was previously sports managing editor for Volume 117.