Duke Football opened the season with two straight dominant wins over NCCU and Northwestern. What do they need to improve going forward?
The Blue Devils opened the college football season with two straight dominant wins, and are widely expected to make it three this weekend. Despite their early success this season, what does Duke Football need to improve on to prepare for the conference season?
Duke won back-to-back blowout wins against NCCU and Northwestern. The first 60-7 rout was mostly expected, however the second 41-17 victory was not. On top of that, the Blue Devils welcome a struggling Baylor team to Durham with bad losses against Liberty and UTSA. Here are three suggestions for Duke Football to continue improving and carry their success into the ACC.
1. Limit Turnovers
The only disappointing aspect of the first two games was the number of turnovers and potential turnovers that could have been lost. Against NCCU, Duke had two fumbles that were both fortunately recovered by the team. They also had a pass intercepted against Northwestern that eventually led to a Wildcat touchdown. While these weren’t as costly in the first two games, conference opponents will be able to take advantage of these opportunities.
2. Continue Protecting QB
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Daniel Jones has been excellent so far to start the season, and most of that success can be contributed to the offensive line. Jones has only been sacked once so far this season compared to five times in the first two games last year. He’s also been given plenty of time to make decisions on offense, which has led to huge numbers averaging 259.0 passing and 63.5 rushing yards. This has also improved the running game and allowed Duke to dominate the time of possession (~36 minutes per game).
3. Continue Limiting Big Plays
One of the major issues for Duke Football last season was their inability to prevent big plays. The defense would play well in spurts, but then allow a deep pass or huge run play from the line of scrimmage. While the Blue Devils did allow an 81 yard TD run against NCCU, they’ve only allowed one passing TD, prevented any passes longer than 27 yards, and were able to hold Wildcats running back Justin Jackson, an All-American caliber talent, to just 18 rushing yards after compiling 105 in last year’s matchup.
After Baylor tomorrow afternoon, the schedule gets tougher for the Blue Devils as ACC play begins. Duke will head to Chapel Hill for their first road game, host a Top 25 Miami team, and then travel to UVA before a huge matchup vs. Florida State. Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more updates and analysis of Duke Football this season.