Duke football has a matchup with Virginia that is a real mixed bag of goodies. There’s the Cavaliers’ struggling offense, their ferocious defense, and the possibility of soggy weather as well. Here are some keys to victory for the Blue Devils.
Control what they can control
The Blue Devils can’t control the weather, so why worry about it? If it is wet, both teams will have to play in it. If it is raining, both teams will have to play in it. Head coach Mike Elko’s team can’t fret over how the conditions may limit the gameplan. They need to control what they can control and deal with whatever adjustments need to be made. It looks like the rain is supposed to stop early Saturday morning, but that can change. If it does, the team that handles this best is probably going to come away with a win.
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Protect the franchise
Virginia’s defense has produced fourteen sacks so far this season. They love to blitz and will loop and twist their lineman in passing situations. Duke’s offensive line must strictly adhere to their blocking rules and not let anyone in a white jersey have a free shot at Riley Leonard. Give the young quarterback time to look down the field and get the ball to one of his playmaking receivers.
Sideline to sideline, end zone to end zone
The Blue Devils must stretch the field on offense. Do not let Virginia force them into playing a compact game. Make them defend the entire field. Combine jet sweeps with quick throws outside the numbers and take a deep shot down the field at times. Mix wide zone plays and inside runs with Jordan Waters and Jaylen Coleman. This will help setup play action passes and add to the repertoire they can use to stretch the Virginia defense.
Don’t let time be on his side
The Blue Devil pass rush must be far better than it was last week and not give Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong time to do anything. Their offensive line has struggled in giving up twelve sacks and seventeen quarterback hurries in just four games. Duke’s pass rush needs to add to those totals. Get in his face, force bad throws, knock him down. Make life miserable for Armstrong.
Talk and get them on the ground
A lack of communication and poor tackling hurt the Duke defense a great deal last week. Expect Virginia to take a page from the Kansas recipe for success against the Blue Devils and use a lot of motion. That lack of talking hampered any adjustments that needed to be made. The defense has to do better in this area this week. The Blue Devils also need to go back to fundamentals with their tackling and do a better job of taking pursuit angles.
The Blue Devils have dropped seven in a row to Virginia and haven’t won an ACC game since 2020. Time to change all of that. Kickoff is slated for Saturday night at 7:30 at Wallace Wade Stadium.