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Film room: Duke football must look to capitalize on Georgia Tech's inconsistent defense

The Blue Devil defense has only allowed 19 points per game this season.
The Blue Devil defense has only allowed 19 points per game this season.

Duke travels to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon for its second ACC matchup this season:

After suffering their first loss of the season to Kansas, the Blue Devils bounced back this past weekend with a dominating win against Virginia. The victory breaks a 13-game ACC loss streak dating back to the 2020 season. 

Duke utilized its rushing attack against the Cavaliers, producing 248 of 377 total offensive yards on the ground, in addition to four of its five total touchdowns. The Blue Devil defense also came up big, limiting quarterback Brennan Armstrong and the Virginia offense to just two touchdowns while also forcing a pair of turnovers. This Blue Devil squad needs to keep up the high level of play and efficiency if it wants to continue its undefeated bid in the ACC as it takes on Georgia Tech this weekend.

The Yellow Jackets are just 2-3 on the season, but they’re coming off a big win versus 24th-ranked Pittsburgh this past weekend. Georgia Tech has struggled in recent weeks, but clearly, after the win against the Panthers, the team has shown upside.  

The key for the Duke defense this weekend is going to be containing Georgia Tech’s rushing attack. The Yellow Jacket offense features dual-threat quarterback Jeff Sims, who likes to turn to his legs to make plays. Check out this designed running play from last season where Sims breaks through a hole and makes a couple guys miss for a nice pickup. 

The sophomore signal caller has had double digit rushing attempts in four of the first five games and has been very effective, but not as effective through the air. Sims has only broken the 200-yard passing mark once this season in a loss to UCF, in which he threw for 314 yards. He has also only thrown for three touchdowns on the season, two of which were to 6-foot-7 senior wideout E.J. Jenkins, who seems to be Sims’ favorite target in the red zone. Here’s an example of these two connecting on a corner route against the fourth-ranked Clemson Tigers.

The Blue Devil defense has only allowed 19 points per game this season, and Georgia Tech has only won games that it has scored more than 20 points in. Expect Duke to put a spy on Sims to limit his rushing presence and force the 20-year-old to beat the Blue Devil secondary through the air. 

On the opposite side of the ball, Duke needs to capitalize on Georgia Tech’s shaky defense. The Yellow Jackets have held an opponent to under 20 points only one time this season, in a 35-17 victory against Western Carolina, and the Blue Devils have yet to have that happen to them. Under head coach Mike Elko, Duke averages 35 points per game and 200.3 rushing yards per contest, making them the 26th-best rushing offense in the nation. The Blue Devil offensive linemen have created big holes for their running back corps, which is led by Jaylen Coleman, Jordan Waters and Jaquez Moore—in addition to quarterback Riley Leonard, who is also second in total rushing yards on the team. Check out this massive hole the big guys up front created for Moore on a 59-yard touchdown against Virginia. 

Duke is proven a dangerous threat on the offensive end, so look for the Blue Devils to use their whole arsenal this weekend to take advantage of Georgia Tech’s defense.


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