Duke in 2013: 3-2 (Defeated Troy 38-31 in most recent game)
Navy in 2013: 3-1 (Defeated Air Force 28-10 in most recent game)
PROBABLE – Michael Mann, Dwayne Norman
QUESTIONABLE – Anthony Boone, Kelby Brown
OUT – Johnell Barnes, Jared Boyd, Kyler Brown, Thomas Sirk, A.J. Wolf
OUT FOR SEASON – Tanner Stone
PROBABLE – Wave Ryder
OUT – Thomas Stone
OUT FOR THE SEASON – Colin Osborne, Graham Vickers
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
Duke will look to improve to 4-2 on the season by executing a balanced offensive attack. Brandon Connette will mix in downfield passes to Jamison Crowder, Brandon Braxton and Max McCaffrey as a complement to the strong running of Jela Duncan and Josh Snead. With a victory on Saturday, Duke has the opportunity to finish the non-conference season at 4-0 for the first time under Coach Cutcliffe and move a step closer to achieving bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season. Carpe diem!
Defensively, pressuring the quarterback is a must! Duke must force the quarterback to pitch the ball on running plays and force him to pass the ball quickly on passing plays. Keenan Reynolds is Navy’s most talented player so Duke can win the game by forcing the ball out of Reynolds’ hands. The defensive line and linebackers must set the tone of this game.
Special teams play will certainly factor into the outcome so all eyes will be upon Duke’s Jamison Crowder when Navy is forced to punt. Crowder has game changing talent in his punt return role.
HOW DUKE CAN LOSE
Performance on the defensive side of the ball has been less than stellar so far this season so when you factor a superb athlete such as Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds into the equation it is easy to see how Duke can lose. The Blue Devils must execute on defense with strong emphasis on fundamentals, and they must have eyes on #19 at all times. Allowing Keenan Reynolds to dictate the ebb and flow of the game would be a huge mistake for Duke.
Reynolds is not a prolific passer but he is an accurate one who has completed 20 of 31 pass attempts for 378 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 188.2. Failing to pressure Reynolds and allowing him time to operate could be a critical mistake.
The Midshipmen have six receivers will multiple receptions on the season including Casey Bolena with six and DeBrandon Sanders with four. Reynolds and Sanders hooked up for a 63 yard touchdown strike in the Delaware game. Navy’s receivers will test Duke’s young secondary.
WHY DUKE WILL WIN
Coach Cutcliffe hinted this week at a different role for safety Anthony Young-Wiseman. While the specifics behind this statement are a complete unknown, positive vibes are being generated by the perception Duke is looking to change things up schematically against the Midshipmen. With mounting injuries at linebacker, Kyler Brown is out and Kelby Brown is questionable, changing schemes is a rational response by the coaching staff. Simply stated, the status quo isn’t good enough.
Along with a schematic wrinkle or two, look for the defensive line to have a breakout game. Pressuring the quarterback has not been a strong point to date, but this is a game where expectations are for the defense to dictate the outcome from the opening kick-off. The team made strong halftime adjustments last time out; this week they will prove they are capable of out performing the opponent for 60 minutes.
Offensively, look for Duke to overpower the Midshipmen. The Blue Devils are bigger and faster, and will utilize their proven ability to execute a balanced attack to keep the Midshipmen off balance and reeling all afternoon. Duke will have too many playmakers for Navy to handle for 60 minutes. In what projects to be an exciting ball game, Duke will win by a field goal.
Duke 34, Navy 31