Film room: Florida State will be the toughest challenge to date for Duke football

The Duke offense celebrates after scoring a touchdown against N.C. State Saturday.
The Duke offense celebrates after scoring a touchdown against N.C. State Saturday.

No. 16 Duke is on the road again for a Saturday primetime clash against Florida State. The Blue Zone is here to give you a preview of the Seminoles as game day looms:

After dominating in its first game after the bye week, Duke now faces its biggest test yet: a road trip to Tallahassee, Fla., to face No. 4 Florida State. The Blue Devils have been impressive up to this point in the season, but they have not played a team as talented as the Seminoles, creating a unique test for head coach Mike Elko’s squad. 

Florida State is currently the favorite to win the ACC as it enter this week’s matchup with a 6-0 record and big time wins against Clemson and LSU under its belt. Head coach Mike Norvell’s team is filled to the brim with talent on both sides of the football, boasting one of the most well-rounded rosters in the nation. The Seminoles are seventh in the nation in scoring offense with 42.2 points per game and 22nd in scoring defense with 18.3 points per game, making them extremely challenging to beat. Duke will have its hands full but will no doubt be motivated and ready to go, especially if quarterback Riley Leonard makes his return.

The name to know for Florida State on offense is quarterback Jordan Travis, who is widely regarded as one of the premier passers in the nation. So far this season, the redshirt senior has been excellent, throwing for 1,482 yards and 13 scores while only tossing up one interception. Take a look below as he uncorks a deep ball for a touchdown in last week’s matchup against Syracuse.

The Seminoles also possess an elite running back in Trey Benson, who was a preseason All-ACC selection. The redshirt junior is averaging 7.1 yards per carry and has already used his skillset to scamper in for six touchdowns. He also has constant big-play potential, with his longest run of the year going for 85 yards.  While Travis will be a major focus for the Blue Devil defense, if they ignore Benson, he can gash them. Watch as the Greenville, Miss., native uses his speed to get to the edge and set Florida State up on the goal line against the Orange.

The most eye-popping player when watching the Seminoles' tape, however, is Michigan State transfer Keon Coleman, who has been nothing short of spectacular out wide for Florida State this year. The junior has been a revelation down in Tallahassee, proving himself as an elite target for Travis from the opening game of the season. The former Spartan has hauled in 29 catches for 418 yards and seven scores, boosting his draft stock and dominating defenses across the country. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Coleman has an unreal blend of size and speed and has made several highlight-reel grabs this season. Check out this impressive one against Syracuse as he snatches the ball out of the air with one hand.

While the offense is full of stars and elite prospects, the Seminole defense is no slouch either. Led by projected top-10 pick Jared Verse, the Florida State defense plays with tenacity and possesses superb athleticism across the board, allowing it to overpower lesser opponents. Last week, the Seminoles only conceded three points to a solid Syracuse team, and they have not conceded 30 or more points to an opponent all season. The unit also has a knack for creating explosive turnovers, something Duke will have to be wary of this week. Check out this big sack that turned into a fumble return touchdown against Clemson.

On Saturday, the Blue Devils will get their chance to prove themselves to the world on primetime. Florida State certainly has the horses to beat anybody, but Duke has shown its grit and its own immense talent during the first half of the season. If the Blue Devils can slow down Travis and that elite offense, Elko has a chance to get his new signature win. 


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