Duke vs. Army West Point
12:00 PM ET
Saturday, October 10
West Point, NY
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network
Duke in 2015: 4-1
Army West Point in 2015: 1-4
OUT – Cody Robinson (OG), Dan Beilinson (TE)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Bryon Fields (CB), Zach Morris (DT), Taariq Shabazz (DE)
ARMY WEST POINT INJURIES (unofficial)
PROBABLE - Ahmad Bradshaw (QB)
QUESTIONABLE - Jordan Smith (DL), Josh Jenkins (DB), Luke Prouix (DB), Rhyan England (DB), Shawn Lemoto (LB)
OUT - Andrew McLean (DL), Drew Hennessey (OL)
Duke and Army have faced off 22 times, with the Blue Devils owning a slight 11-10-1 advantage in the all-time series. In 2010, the Black Knights emerged with a 35-21 victory in Durham in their last meeting. Saturday's contest at West Point is a sold-out affair, as the Blue Devils' stout defense faces yet another physical, option-style team.
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
Like they did against Georgia Tech two weeks ago, the Blue Devils will modify their defense to a more traditional 4-3 scheme, bringing Jeremy Cash closer to the line of scrimmage to utilize his strengths against the run. If Cash and the rest of the Blue Devil front seven remain disciplined and disruptive, it should be a long day for the Black Knights. Jim Knowles' defense has been nothing short of dominant in the early 2015 season, ranking 5th in the country and allowing just 10 points per game.
Offensively, Duke's offensive line has to put forth a more physical and dominant effort than they have in recent weeks. The Blue Devils have faced several of the nation's top defenses early on, which should only pay dividends this week against an Army squad that allows opponents an average of 387 yards per game. Establishing the running back stable early on, while getting Thomas Sirk going on the ground as well, should open things up for Johnell Barnes, T.J. Rahming, and Max McCaffrey downfield. The key for the Blue Devil offense has to be finding ways to get their playmakers the ball in space, where they should use their superior athleticism to pick up yards on a forgiving Army defense.
Against the option offense, special teams is again a key for the Blue Devils, as each possession is criticial and field position can quickly swing momentum in a game like this. Will Monday and Ross Martin are putting together their best campaigns yet in Durham, and that trend should continued on Saturday in New York.
HOW DUKE CAN LOSE
Turnovers remain the biggest concern for this Duke team. The Blue Devils have already committed 11 turnovers through their first 5 games, while forcing just 8 of their own. Against a disciplined Army team, the Blue Devils cannot afford to hand the Black Knights extra possessions and field position. Similarly, Duke has to limit the Black Knights on offense by forcing punts and getting critical 3rd and 4th down stops. If Army can manage to convert on 3rd (and 4th) and short, Duke's defense will be on the field a long time.
Army wants to keep this game close, within a score throughout. It will be critical for Duke to try and built a 10 or more point lead early in this game to win comfortably. If the Blue Devils allow the Black Knights to hang around, it may come down to another tight 4th quarter finish. Though they are 1-4, all four of Army's losses have been by fewer than a touchdown.
Duke has the superior athletes, but Army has proven to be a pesky, disciplined opponent for teams so far in 2015. The Blue Devils will emerge with a victory, but it won't be pretty and it will again be mostly due to the strength of Jeremy Cash and the defense.
Duke 24, Army 13