By: Phil Houk of Fighting Irish Preview and Irish 101
Duke is 4-4, they were idle last week, have been on the road for their last two games, and they have lost their last two games.
Duke has faced two ND opponents thus far, in week 4 they were at Virginia Tech, whom they defeated 45-10 and in week 7, they lost to Virginia 48-10.
In week one they lost to Alabama by the score of 42-3.
On offense Senior Quentin Harris is a dual threat guy completing 61% of his passes good for 13 touchdowns against 7 interceptions. Harris is also the team’s 2nd leading rusher with 408 yards on the season and 6 TDs, he has fumbled 3 times.
True freshman Jalon Calhoun leads the Blue Devils in receiving out of the slot position, he has 37 catches good for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns, but 6-2, 215 Junior, Scott Bracy is the top downfield threat, he averages 13.5 yards per catch and has scored twice.
Duke’s leading rusher is 6-0, 215 Junior Deon Jackson who runs behind a young offensive line that will feature a true freshman and a redshirt freshman at the tackle positions. Jackson averages 3.9 yards per carry and has scored 5 times, he also is a threat to catch the football with 14 catches and 2 scores through the air.
Overall this offense does not rank highly, they are 100th in total offense, 99th in passing efficiency and 65th in scoring at 29.5 points per game. Of note as well is that the Blue Devils have lost 13 fumbles this season, which ranks them 114th in the category.
On Defense Safety Marquis Waters ranks 2nd in the nation with 5 interceptions. And the defensive line can rush the passer and otherwise wreak havoc. Victor Dimukeje has 6 and a half sacks on the year and Chris Rumph leads the team with 8 and a half tackles for loss.
Overall the defense is giving up 25.9 points per game and 351 yards per game. Both these numbers rank the Blue Devils solidly in the top half nationally.
On special teams, AJ Reed has not missed a field goal or extra point, but his kickoffs have been mostly short of the end zone which might present opportunities for Lawrence Keys in the ND return game.
The Duke defensive line is very aggressive which may actually present some opportunities to Chris Long's offense for screens, draws and delays.
The Duke offense has struggled against good defenses, and we know Notre Dame is capable of playing pretty good defense.
Overall, ND looks to have the advantage here, but being at home and David Cutcliffe having had two weeks to game plan, are factors in Duke's favor.