After a big ranked win for Duke against Clemson, the Blue Devils have a quick turnaround as they welcome the Lafayette Leopards in Week 2. The Blue Zone has a key to propel each team to victory:
Duke: Focus and discipline
While multiple players can make a key difference for Duke, the biggest concern for this game should be minimizing mistakes and maintaining team discipline. The Blue Devils were fortunate to prevail against Clemson despite some uncharacteristically sloppy play. Between numerous pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball, a muffed punt that led to the Tigers’ only score of the game and a fumble just outside the red zone, there were plenty of unforced errors that could have come back to haunt Duke. Instead, after a gutty performance, the Blue Devils found themselves victorious on a historic night for the program, and are ranked in the AP Poll for the first time since 2018.
Now, Duke faces a short turnaround following the Monday night game heading into its Week 2 matchup with Lafayette College. In order to not fall victim to the classic trap game, the Blue Devils must refocus and clean up their mental mistakes from last week. While some of those miscues can be chalked up to first-week jitters, there will be no more excuses this week, especially for a squad laden with veterans — the 17 returning starters are the most in the ACC.
Duke will be heavily favored Saturday evening when it welcomes the Leopards into Wallace Wade Stadium. However, if the Blue Devils allow themselves to get caught up in the newfound buzz surrounding the team following last week's emotional victory, they may find their FCS foe from Pennsylvania harder to put away than they expected. Therefore, in order for Duke to secure the victory, it will need to be locked in mentally and avoid beating itself.
Lafayette: Jamar Curtis
If the Leopards want to pull off the upset in Durham, they will have to do so on the back — or, more accurately, legs — of their workhorse sophomore running back Jamar Curtis. In the Week 1 victory over Sacred Heart, Curtis accounted for 68% of the team’s total offense, carrying the rock 19 times for 181 yards — both career highs — and a touchdown, while also catching a pair of passes for 18 yards. This comes on the heels of a successful 2022 season, during which he led the team in rushing yards as a true freshman.
The small but shifty Curtis, who stands just 5-foot-8, is a weapon on special teams as well. During his rookie campaign, he racked up over 350 total return yards.
The Blue Devil run defense looked vulnerable at times against Clemson, allowing 213 yards on the ground. Lafayette’s offense starts and ends with its run game anyways — it completed just six passes in its season opening contest — so the heart of the Duke defense will surely be challenged this week by the Waldorf, Md., native. If Curtis and the Leopards are able to find a similar amount of running room as the Tigers did, then the visitors from the Patriot League will have a chance to stun people Saturday.
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