2013 Football Schedule Preview: Part 3


Oct 20, 2012; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils wide receiver Jamison Crowder (3) dives into the endzone for the winning touchdown against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the second half at Wallace Wade Stadium. Duke beat North Carolina 33-30. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve entered the home stretch of our schedule preview with SouthernPigskin.com editor Matt Osborne.  You can read part 1 and part 2 here.

This conclusion features the games against NC State, Miami, Wake Forest, and UNC.

NC State

Duke Advantage:

Matt: NC State might be able to get pressure on Duke’s quarterback, but the Wolfpack will need to with a number of new faces in the secondary. Duke’s receivers should be able to get open with great regularity, making way for Boone to have a potential career outing.

Chris: Right now, no one knows who will be leading the Pack this year. Later in the year, that should be well established but at this moment Duke has the clear advantage over either of the NC State candidates. Because of this, I expect Duke to control the game.

NC State Advantage:

Matt: Jim Knowles feels solid about the starting defense he will be running out in 2013, but there are still concerns about the depth. NC State head coach Dave Doeren will employ a high-tempo offense which could wear the Blue Devils’ defense down late in the contest.

Chris: Hammering home that point, Doeren’s Northern Illinois squad ran the ball over 60% of the time last season and with QB questions, I expect a similar number for the Wolfpack. Duke will need depth on the line to continually contend with that rushing attack but I’m not sure they have enough qualtiy depth.

Duke will win if…:

Matt: If the offensive line is able to slow down a talented Wolfpack defensive line, Duke should have no problems moving the football through the air. It could prove to be a shootout, but as long as Duke takes care of the football, the Blue Devils will have a great chace to pick up a conference victory.

Chris: If it doesn’t anger Pack Pride and prevents them from finding dirt on all our star players. Seriously though, Duke will win if it can score off the three and outs. Maintaining the clock is crucial against an offense like Doeren’s because you will want to rest your defense as much as possible. Scoring after State three and outs would be the most efficient way to do that.

Confidence Rating: 5.5


Duke Advantage:

Matt: Miami’s passing defense was the worst in the ACC last fall. Duke scored 45 points in a close loss to the Hurricanes in 2012, and the Blue Devils should be able to move the football regularly this season.

Chris: There isn’t much to give to Duke in this game as Miami brings back 10 offensive and 8 defensive starters. If I’m going to pick something it might be running the ball as Miami surrendered 218 yards per game on the ground and 5.0 yards per carry. Duke also knows they played Miami close last season at home and gets them to the Wade again. Duke put up 583 yards in that game.

Miami Advantage:

Matt: Running back Duke Johnson is one of the most dynamic players in all of college football. Despite recruiting better athleticism on both sides of the football, the Blue Devils simply do not have the athletes to bring him down consistently in a timely manner.

Chris: Almost everywhere but the most noticeable one will be on the lines where Miami brings back all 5 offensive linemen who average 6-6, 320 pounds. Digest that for a moment. Seantrel Henderson, a former SI cover athlete as a high schooler, leads the line as a senior right tackle and will be a monster for any of Duke’s ends to move.

Duke will win if…:

Matt: Once again, winning the turnover battle could prove to be key. Duke will not be able to stop Duke Johnson, so the Blue Devils must hope for some costly mistakes from Miami quarterback Stephen Morris.

Chris: If they win the turnover battle. The Miami defense might as well have been playing tag with their opponents last season as they gave up 486 yards PER GAME. Boston College had 537. NC State had 664 (Really?!). Duke can score on this team but can they stop them? Probably not so they will need to swing a few extra possessions in this game through turnovers. By the way, did you know Duke has led in 5 of the last 7 games with the Canes.

Confidence Rating: 2

at Wake Forest

Duke Advantage:

Matt: The Blue Devils finally ended a 12-year skid against the Demon Deacons last season. While that may not seem like a noteworthy accomplishment, Duke no longer faces additional pressure heading into a very winnable road game.

Chris: The Wake running game was putrid last season and lost top rusher Josh Harris just days ago for the season due to academic ineligibility. With Duke able to stuff the run easily in this game, Duke will be able to focus in on the passing game and Ross Cockrell could end up with a pick or two in this game.

Wake Forest Advantage:

Matt: The Demon Deacons are much experienced than they were a season ago, meaning that offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke will be able to open up the offense. Duke has struggled with some of Wake’s “trickery” in the past.

Chris: Nikita Whitlock is finally back to 100% and will be a problem for the Blue Devils line. Whitlock was a high school star in Texas but was lightly recruited due to his stature. Still, he’s been a dynamic presence on the Demon Deacon line when healthy and will be a force in this game.

Duke will win if…:

Matt: The offensive and defensive lines should be areas of strength this fall, and the Blue Devils will certainly need both units to come up big against the Demon Deacons. Of particular importance will be limiting the effectiveness of star defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock.

Chris: The secondary shows out. Stopping the run should be fine, it will be defending Tanner Price that makes or breaks this game. The senior starter only completed 55% of his passes last season and Jeremy Cash, Everett Edwards, and Ross Cockrell will be looking to grab a few of those incompletions.

Confidence Rating: 6

at North Carolina

Duke Advantage:

Matt: The Blue Devils’ defense did an admirable job against a high-powered North Carolina offense on the way to winning the Victory Bell in 2012. With North Carolina losing Giovani Bernard and three starters along the offensive front, Duke should be able to limit the Tar Heels’ effectiveness on the ground.

Chris: Receivers. Coaching. Confidence.

North Carolina Advantage:

Matt: This is a game where Duke’s uncertainty in the secondary could reare its ugly head. North Carolina’s passing attack is explosive with players such as Bryn Renner, Eric Ebron and Quinshad Davis. The Blue Devils will have a very difficult time slowing down the Tar Heels through the air.

Chris: I suppose the Car Hee– excuse me, Tar Heels will have a strong advantage through the air as Renner returns for his senior year. One of the most efficient quarterbacks in the conference, Renner completed 65% of his passes and had a QBR of 150.8, third behind only Tahj Boyd and EJ Manuel in the ACC, last season.

Duke will win if…:

Matt: One of the keys in last season’s series victory was Duke’s ability to run the football. If the Blue Devils can somehow register over 200 yards on the ground with production of Juwan Thompson, Jela Duncan and Josh Snead, another upset just may be in the cards.

Chris: I agree, the Stable needs to find the same groove from That Night At The Wade. Duke had their best game of the season on the ground against the Heels by over 50 yards and will need to replicate that to give their defense a rest from Larry Fedora’s Red Bull Offense.

Confidence Rating: 3

Throughout the summer, I’ve been telling anyone that would listen to me that we’re in for an 8-4 year.  It’s ambitious but I think Duke has the schedule to do it.  Of course, last year I did a preview for UVA and also picked them to go 8-4 and they stumbled to a 4-8 season. Cross your fingers that I haven’t just jinxed Duke football months after finally breaking the bowl curse.