No. 18 Duke will face UConn Saturday in its first away game of the season. Ahead of the matchup, the Blue Zone looks at a key player on each team that will gauge its success:
Duke: DeWayne Carter
Last week’s triumph over Northwestern was another decisive win for Duke. After securing a 17-7 halftime lead, the Blue Devils pulled away to beat the Wildcats 38-14 and prove that their string of dominant victories is far from over.
As Duke attempts to extend its undefeated season in Week 4 against the Huskies, it will look to defensive tackle DeWayne Carter to pressure UConn’s quarterback. The redshirt senior made an impressive seven tackles Week 1 to help secure victory over Clemson. However, he notched only two against the Wildcats, so he is primed for a bounce-back game.
Carter has already established himself as a reliable asset in mid-season travel matchups. Last year, he had a career-high nine tackles in an early away game against Georgia Tech, six of which were solo tackles. A similar performance this week against the Huskies stands to offer the Blue Devils important defensive security.
Carter will also play a key role in limiting UConn’s strong rushing game. His instinctive countering off the tackle and ability to quickly locate the ball can give Duke a defensive edge by forcing the Huskies to move the ball through the air. All in all, the matchup this weekend will offer Carter a perfect opportunity to impose his will on the Huskies and pave the way for another conclusive Blue Devil victory.
UConn: Jackson Mitchell
If UConn wants to pull off the upset at home, it will need to look to senior linebacker Jackson Mitchell to stop Duke’s impressive ground game. The Ridgefield, Conn., native has already started his season off strong — with 15 total tackles against N.C. State, seven at Georgia State and eight against FIU.
In a close Week 3 matchup, Mitchell was instrumental in limiting the Panthers to just 70 second-half yards. He also led the Huskies in tackles, giving the offense a crucial chance to rally. If Mitchell can register similar numbers Week 4, he could stall Duke’s rush-dominant offense.
Head coach Mike Elko’s strategy of running the ball and controlling the clock has proved successful so far. Lafayette had a difficult time foiling the Blue Devils’ rush attacks and surrendered four touchdowns on the ground, and Northwestern stood by while Duke racked up a combined total of 268 rushing yards. The Blue Devils will look to continue this style of play, but if Mitchell puts up another impressive game, it will pressure Elko to find other ways to move the ball down the field.
Though the Huskies have come up short in all their previous matchups this year, it was not from lack of defensive prowess. Mitchell will seek to limit Duke’s scoring opportunities, and his defensive skills might move the needle towards a UConn upset for its first victory of the season.
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