The Blue Devils and Wildcats are each coming off their first wins of the season, so when they meet this weekend, it will be crucial for each team's stars to do their jobs and add one to the win column. The Blue Zone brings you a player to watch out for on both sides ahead of the Saturday afternoon matchup:
Duke: Lummie Young IV
When the tackle statistic is mentioned, you anticipate the leaders in that category to be the players in the front who get the bulk of the immediate action, such as the defensive linemen and linebackers. However, so far for the Blue Devils, their premier tackler has been redshirt senior safety Lummie Young IV. Through the first two games, Young has led the team in solo tackles with eight and is second only to linebacker Shaka Heyward for total tackles with 18. On top of that, he is one of only two Blue Devil defenders to have defended multiple passes and has provided the defense with a solid personal start and has served as the best member of the secondary.
Young was a bit of an unknown heading into the year as he was recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon he suffered five games into 2020. Along with teammate Josh Blackwell, who also fell to the injury bug a few games earlier, the veteran absence played a major role in Duke’s defensive drop-off late in the season that saw the team lose the last four games while giving up an average of over 50 points in those losses. The return of the experienced starters should give the Blue Devils a much-needed boost to a defense that has struggled mightily in recent years. Last week was a good start, as the unit gave up 17 points, including just three in the second half.
However, Northwestern, Duke's first Power Five opponent, owns a much more talented offense. Therefore, Duke will have to build on Friday's second half performance to have a chance at making a statement exhibition on its home turf this upcoming weekend. It all starts with the emerging leader that is Young. Quarterback Hunter Johnson, following a poor 66-yard performance against Indiana State, will be looking to turn things around. So if Young and the Duke secondary can impose their will early on and send a message, Johnson may never be able to flip that switch.
Northwestern: Evan Hull
This season was set to be a defining year for sophomore running back Cam Porter, who broke into the scene last year for the Wildcats when he led the team in rushing yards and touchdowns after starting just two games. Unfortunately, the spectacle that was assured with a full season as the program's top running back will have to wait as Porter suffered a season-ending leg injury during training camp. The question then arose, who is the next man up? Who will lighten the blow of losing such certain production? Well, an answer emerged and it emerged fast. The name is Evan Hull.
The Wildcats' other sophomore running back may not have gotten the level of hype his teammate Porter received heading into this season, but he too was poised for a breakout year based on his performance in 2020. On just 25 attempts, Hull tallied 209 yards for a staggering average of 8.4 yards per carry—which would have been third-best in the nation if he were statistically qualified. As a true freshman in 2019, Hull had a game with 220 yards and four touchdowns. Now, in 2021, his role is bigger than ever.
In just two games to start the season, Hull has already surpassed his 25 carries from 2020 with 31. His 213-yard total includes last week's 126-yard and two-touchdown performance—so far he is looking like the best player on head coach Pat Fitzgerald's offense. If Northwestern really goes as he goes then another spectacular outing may be all it takes for the Wildcats to walk out of Wallace Wade Stadium with a winning record. Expect the Wildcats' top tailback to bring the pressure on Duke’s defense.
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