2013 Football Schedule Preview: Part 2


Oct 6, 2012; Durham, NC, USA; Virginia Cavaliers cornerback Demetrious Nicholson (1) tackles Duke Blue Devils running back Juwan Thompson (23) as he scores a touchdown during the second half at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

We enter part two of our three part series with Matt Osborne, Editor of SouthernPigskin.com, analyzing the Duke schedule this fall.  You can read part one here.  So far, we’ve covered the first four games of the season, in which Duke has the opportunity to start 4-0 but will more likely fall in the 2-2 or 3-1 range.  That said, the next four games get tougher for the Blue Devils. Duke hosts Troy and Navy then goes to the Commonwealth of Virginia back to back weeks for games against the Cavs and Hokies respectively.


Duke Advantage:

Matt: Troy’s secondary was porous a year ago, and it likely won’t be any better in 2013. Duke’s wide receivers already would likely have an athletic advantage against a team from the Sun Belt, but the Blue Devils should have absolutely no problem finding open targets in this game.

Chris: The trenches should be the heart of Duke’s success in this game. They will have a strength and size advantage and need to use it to generate holes for the running backs. This might be the first time we see the work Cutcliffe and his staff have put in in recruiting size for the lines pay off.

Troy Advantage:

Matt: The Trojans finished eighth in the FBS in passing offense last fall, and that ranking could potentially improve with the return of quarterback Corey Robinson and two of their three top receivers. With a weak Duke secondary, the Troy passing attack should fare quite well.

Chris: Looking at this team, you don’t see much of a strength. The passing game stands out as they prefer to go four wide often. This could give the Duke secondary fits as Brown and Helton and the other linebackers will be called to match up with faster receivers and running backs fairly often. This could lead to many mismatches down field.

Duke will win if…:

Matt: The defense should have to play well against the Trojans. The key will be to make enough stops to allow the offense to outscore Troy. As long as the Blue Devils can come up with a timely stop or two, they should avoid a disappointing loss.

Chris: If they pressure the quarterback. Troy QB Corey Robinson is a dangerous player so Justin Foxx and the rest of the line will need to get to him early and often to take pressure off the Duke secondary.

Confidence Rating: 8


Duke Advantage:

Matt: Due to Navy being a service academy, Duke will have a massive size advantage in the trenches. Navy will try to combat Duke’s advantage by employing a very unique system, but the Devils should still have no trouble thoroughly dominating the point of attack.

Chris: Yes, Duke will have a big size advantage but the talent edge should really shine when Duke has the ball. Navy surrendered 474 yards per game to BCS schools last year. Schools like Indiana, Arizona State, and East Carolina as well as Penn State and Notre Dame. Duke should have no trouble scoring in this game.

Navy Advantage:

Matt: While being a service academy can sometimes be a negative, it also provides its share of positives. The Midshipmen will be a very disciplined football team, and they force their opponents to be equally as disciplined if they want to win.

Chris: Despite the fact that their defense had more holes than Camp Green Lake (Now that is reference for the kid in all of us), Navy returns six of their top eight in the secondary and will no doubt be a much tougher team to throw on this season.

Duke will win if…:

Matt: Historically, Duke has never had much of a problem moving the football against the Midshipmen. Facing Georgia Tech’s offense in conference play, the Blue Devils should be better equipped to handle the option attack. If the defense keeps Navy under 30 points, Duke should pick up the victory.

Chris: If they contain the outside rushes. Duke should have no problem scoring in this game but it is the defense that will need to step up and contain the Midshipmen on those pitches to the outside. With Kelby Brown back and having seen the offense already this season, Duke should be well prepared to stuff runs up the middle.

Confidence Rating: 8

at Virginia

Duke Advantage:

Matt: Hard as it may be to believe, Duke has dominated the series against Virginia since Cutcliffe took over, winning four of the five match ups. The Blue Devils have the mental edge over the Cavaliers, which could prove to be vital in a contest between relatively evenly-matched squads.

Chris: I’ll take that a step further and point out that it was Boone who beat the Cavaliers last season in his only start. Boone threw for 212 yards and four touchdowns as Duke demolished the Cavs in the second half. His confidence going into this game could be a huge factor in the outcome.

Virginia Advantage:

Matt: While Duke has had success against Virginia recently, the Cavaliers have typically won the battle of physicality. Virginia returns four starters along the offensive line and also welcomes back talent running back Kevin Parks. Running the football should come very easily for the Cavaliers.

Chris: Aside from Parks, UVA welcomes 5* running back Smoke Mizzell to the squad this fall. The electrifying waterbug will be a contender for snaps and running behind All-ACC tackle Morgan Moses will give these backs plenty of openings.

Duke will win if…:

Matt: The Cavaliers have major questions at quarterback once again in 2013. If Duke can build an early lead and force Virginia to become more of a throwing team, it could mean serious problems for Mike London’s squad.

Chris: If they successfully run the ball. Virginia returns its entire secondary and they are very, very talented. However, only three return to the front seven that gave up 182 yards on the ground last season. Running the ball will help control the clock, control the clock and force David Watford to throw, force Watford to throw and you will beat the Cavs.

Confidence Rating: 4.5

at Virginia Tech

Duke Advantage:

Matt: Although Duke’s secondary lacks overall experience, this could be a game where the defensive backs experience a good deal of success. Logan Thomas has proven to be interception-prone during his career, and he will once again try to replace each of his top receivers from the season prior this fall.

Chris: I’m really struggling to find an area where Duke has a useful advantage and I think you’ve found it. The Hokie receivers aren’t experienced but they are skilled and highly rated. If Cockrell can lock down his side of the field, Duke could end up with a few interceptions to turn the tide.

Virginia Tech Advantage:

Matt: The Hokies have nine starters returning on defense and should easily handle the Blue Devils at the point of attack. Anthony Boone will likely have a difficult time feeling comfortable in the pocket, while Duke’s talented stable of running backs will have trouble finding clear paths through which to run.

Chris: They have advantages all over the field but Duke always comes out fighting with the Hokies. If there is a real strength it is the Hokie secondary which returns nearly every one and adds two top freshmen. Boone will have a very tough time finding open receivers in this game.

Duke will win if…:

Matt: Given Thomas’ poor track record with interceptions, the Blue Devils should remain competitive if they can force a few bad decisions from Virginia Tech’s quarterback. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder will also need to take advantage of the Hokies’ aggressive secondary defenders.

Chris: The Duke running game is dependable. Of course generating turnovers will more than help but at some point, the offense will need to generate it’s own points. It will be difficult to do that through the air so my hope is that Boone will be able to space the field enough on his read option plays that the Stable is able to generate consistent yardage.

Confidence Rating: 2