Coming off a 27-13 loss that saw the Blue Devils remain competitive throughout, Duke opens its home slate by welcoming Boston College to Wallace Wade Stadium. The Blue Zone gives you three keys to the Blue Devils' matchup with the Eagles:
Can the Eagles fly?
Boston College tore through the ACC on the ground last year, finishing second only to Clemson in rushing yards. With all the uncertainty at the starting quarterback position, Duke needs to make the Eagles throw the ball to beat them. Transfer Phil Jurkovec and returning starter Dennis Grosel have been battling for the starting spot all offseason and Boston College had the luxury of waiting an extra week than most college football teams to name a starter with their Week 1 bye.
Regardless of who head coach Jeff Hafley decided will be under center, neither will have had the chance to master the offense and build any meaningful rapport with the receivers. This is going to give defensive ends Chris Rumph II and Victor Dimukeje a prime opportunity to prey on the inexperience of either quarterback.
Porter the punter
I’m not sure that anyone expected Porter Wilson to be a storyline from last week’s matchup with Notre Dame but he impressed in his first college game. Wilson averaged 45.7 yards per punt, which puts him at seventh in the nation, and proved he has the ability to flip the field when Duke needs him to.
Field position is going to be crucial on Saturday because Boston College does not have an explosive offense. If it is to beat Duke, it is going to be because it has success in the run game behind their lead running back David Bailey. The Eagles’ touchdown drives are going to be meticulous and they aren’t going to burn the Blue Devil secondary over the top, so Wilson needs to pin the Eagles deep. Wilson has to make Boston College’s offensive line fight for the line of scrimmage for as close to an entire field length as possible so that Duke’s defense can have enough opportunities to get a stop.
Heading into the season, Duke’s biggest question mark was arguably at the linebacker position. No returning linebacker was an established starter last season and Duke’s most experienced returner, Shaka Heyward, had only started six games heading into the season. Last week’s linebacker performance was streaky and the play of both Heyard and fellow redshirt sophomore Rocky Shelton is going to be pivotal against this Boston College running game.
Heyward racked up seven tackles and Shelton notched 1.5 sacks against the Fighting Irish. While both showed they could get to the football, Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams’ 112 rushing yards proved there is considerable room for improvement. Both players as well as freshman Christian Hood need to work downhill and put extra emphasis on reading run play first, pass second. If they don’t, the Eagles are going to have no problem gashing the Blue Devils behind their strong offensive line.
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