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Third and goal: Duke football needs to build off last week to have success against Syracuse

Deon Jackson had a season-best rushing day against Virginia Tech, going for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
Deon Jackson had a season-best rushing day against Virginia Tech, going for 68 yards and two touchdowns.

Build off positives

For the first time this season, the Duke Blue Devils found themselves within reach of the win in the final few minutes. While they did wind up falling 38-31 to Virginia Tech, only losing by one score is a major difference from the first three games.  

What was different?  For one, the turnover ratio.  Quarterback Chase Brice only threw one interception last week, compared to the four he threw in the previous week. When a team keeps hold of the ball, they give themselves a chance to score. 

This week, look for improvement from Brice because as the season progresses, he should too. He’s looked much more comfortable in and out of the pocket in addition to being more aware of defensive schemes downfield.  

Run the ball hard

Syracuse is currently ranked 57th in rushing yards allowed per game with an average of 187.3. Last week against Virginia Tech, Duke’s Mataeo Durant and Deon Jackson rushed for a combined 154 yards and two touchdowns, their highest total this season. It is clear that the offensive line is figuring out how to create space, and Duke’s experienced rushers are taking advantage of it.

With Syracuse’s defensive record this season, look to see a game plan that includes heavy rushing. Durant and Jackson should be able to weave their way through the lines and create some home run plays, something Duke has sorely needed this season.  

Stick to your man

Syracuse quarterback Tommy Devito has failed to reach over 200 yards passing in all three of his games this season and on top of that, he has only thrown for two total touchdowns. If Duke is looking to earn their first win of the season, taking advantage of this weak spot is the perfect place to start. 

While Duke’s more experienced secondary players remain out, the backups have been picked on. This matchup should be much more favorable, allowing them to find a good defensive rhythm, and in turn, setting up the perfect chance for a bounce-back performance.  Against an offense that has continually struggled in the air, the Blue Devils defense needs to be a part of the trend, not break it.  

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