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X-Factor: Duke football needs a quality offensive turnout from Jaquez Moore to take down Virginia Tech

Jaquez Moore scored two touchdowns and rushed for 82 yards against Boston College.
Jaquez Moore scored two touchdowns and rushed for 82 yards against Boston College.

After notching their sixth win against Boston College on the road, the Blue Devils return to Wallace Wade Stadium ready to continue their winning slate—taking on Virginia Tech this time. Before the Saturday afternoon matchup, the Blue Zone takes a look at a player from each sideline that may lead their squad to victory:

Duke: Jaquez Moore

Running back Jaquez Moore is coming off a two-touchdown game against Boston College last weekend in which he had 82 rushing yards. If Moore remains consistent, the Blue Devils must look for another big offensive game out of him to secure a win against the Hokies.

Sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard may lead the Blue Devils in total rushing yards on the season, but Moore, along with fellow running backs Jaylen Coleman and Jordan Waters, are essential pieces to the Blue Devil ground game. Though he is 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, Moore is swifter and speedier than many of Duke’s other ball carriers. The versatility the sophomore back provides for the Duke rushing attack makes it difficult for opposing teams to know what the Blue Devils have planned for them.

The Hokies, similarly to the Blue Devils, have mostly faced defeat in the air during their past three games—only giving up two total touchdowns on the ground. But four weeks ago, the Virginia Tech defense lost a record-setting six rushing touchdowns and 320 yards to Pittsburgh’s Israel Abanikanda. Though Moore only has 396 yards and four touchdowns on the season, he and Abanikanda’s running styles are very similar. And if the sophomore can use his talents to cause just a third of the damage that Abanikanda did to Virginia Tech in October, the Blue Devils may have a good chance of coming out with a victory.

Virginia Tech: Grant Wells

Virginia Tech will need a standout performance from Grant Wells this weekend if it wants to steal a game from the Blue Devils on the road. 

When Duke's defense gets beat, it is mainly through the air. All three scores by the Hurricanes in its win against Miami and all four touchdowns by the Eagles in Duke's victory against Boston College were from passes. If Wells and the Hokies' passing attack can move the ball well this weekend, it will give them the best chance to put up points against a tough Duke defense. 

But the key word is “if." The junior quarterback has struggled to move the ball effectively this year. Virginia Tech currently has a six-game loss streak, and in each game, the Marshall transfer has only broken the 200-yard passing mark twice. In addition, Wells’ touchdown to interception ratio is even, with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season. 

But every game is different, and this contest could be a breakout game for the signal caller. Earlier in the season, Georgia Tech’s Jeff Sims threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns against Duke's secondary. The performance was nearly 60 yards above his average at the time and marks his season high in touchdowns. If the Hokies are to end their loss streak, Wells must have a similar breakout game of his own.


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