Film room: Duke football looks to exploit Northwestern's offensive weaknesses to go 3-0

<p>Jordan Waters set a career high in rushing yards in Duke's win over Lafayette.</p>

Jordan Waters set a career high in rushing yards in Duke's win over Lafayette.

Duke football seeks to continue its incredible start to the season Saturday against Northwestern. The Blue Zone is here to give you a look at the Wildcats in the leadup to the game: 

The Blue Devils followed up their historic Labor Day win against Clemson with a dominant, albeit less momentous 42-7 victory against Lafayette. No. 21 Duke now aims to extend its hot streak when Northwestern comes to Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday.

The Wildcats struggled last season, winning just one game and firing their head coach of 17 seasons, Pat Fitzgerald. The team’s 38-7 defeat of UTEP Sept. 9 was the team’s first victory since last August and a much-need boost during this dark period of the program’s history.

Northwestern’s offense is led by quarterback Ben Bryant, who transferred from Cincinnati in the spring. After faltering during the Wildcats’ season-opening loss to Rutgers, the La Grange, Ill., native bounced back against the Miners, scoring touchdowns both on the ground and in the air. Watch below as the sixth year finds teammate Thomas Gordon to give his squad their first lead of the game.

Bryant, however, is not the only quarterback in Northwestern’s arsenal – sophomore Jack Lausch has proven to be an important weapon in the Wildcats’ read option package. The Chicago native demonstrated his explosive running ability both during his touchdown in the first quarter against UTEP and on the 46-yard run seen below. 

Northwestern also possesses the dynamic running back duo of Cam Porter and Joseph Himon II. Porter posted an impressive 90 yards on just 17 carries against the Miners, while Himon caught an 85-yard receiving touchdown late in the third quarter. Look below as the latter snags a screen pass before flying past numerous UTEP defenders to seal his team’s victory.

The Wildcats’ run defense has been their strength so far this season. Northwestern has allowed just 2.9 yards per carry across its opening two matchups, in large part due to the performances of senior linebackers Bryce Gallagher and Xander Mueller. In addition to stuffing the Miners' rushing attack, both members of the experienced duo caught an interception during Saturday’s win. Watch below as Mueller displays his athleticism, snatching UTEP's errant pass and nearly returning the ball all the way into the end zone.

Even though the Blue Devils are favorites to win at home, Duke cannot underestimate its opponent. If the Blue Devils do not get off to a hot start and allow Northwestern to embrace its running game, Duke may find itself in a dogfight against a struggling Power 5 team with something to prove. The last thing the Blue Devils want is to ruin the start to their season by falling prey to the Wildcats.


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