Duke at Troy
7:00 PM ET
Saturday, September 6
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 135
Duke in 2014: 1-0
Troy in 2014: 0-1
OUT – Dan Beilinson (TE), C.J. France (LB), Johnathan Lloyd (CB), Trip McNeill (OL), Jake Sanders (OL)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Taariq Shabazz (DE)
The Troy Trojans made a trip to Durham a year ago, falling to the Blue Devils, 38-31. This year, Duke returns the favor with a visit to Troy, Alabama in week two. Behind four touchdowns from Anthony Boone, Duke cruised to an easy win in their opener against Elon, while the Trojans were trampled on the road by the UAB Blazers, 48-10.
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
On his weekly conference call, OC Scottie Montgomery said to be at their best, the Blue Devil offense is all about balance. A balanced attack from Anthony Boone and company should consistently find the end zone against a Troy defense that allowed 338 rushing yards to UAB and finished 115th against the pass in 2013. Troy HC Larry Blakeney stated this week that the Blue Devils will represent the best offensive line the Trojans will face this season (and Troy will face Georgia in week 4). The key to a balanced offensive attack starts at the line of scrimmage, where Duke will need to impose their will against the struggling Trojan front seven. Expect to see Duke once again rely heavily on veteran RBs Josh Snead and Shaquille Powell as they look to impose a fast pace and consistently move the chains.
Defensively, DC Jim Knowles is likely to implement a more aggressive gameplan than against Elon, looking to turn up the heat on young redshirt-freshman QB Brandon Silvers. A big night from the Duke front six will force the young Trojan offense into turnovers, something they were unable to do against Elon in their opener.
The one glaring weakness in Duke’s effort against Elon was in the kicking game, where the Blue Devils were out-hit by the Phoenix. Coach Cutcliffe spent significant time analyzing the kicking game struggles and expect to see a better effort from Duke in week 2.
HOW DUKE CAN LOSE
On their way to a 10-2 regular season, the Blue Devils survived a scare at home against the Trojans a year ago. It would be foolish to overlook this year’s Troy team simply based on their week one result. Head Coach Larry Blakeney and his staff will have the Trojans ready for their home opener (Troy is 22-1 in home openers under Blakeney). On the road against a quality opponent, the Blue Devils cannot afford to make things easy for the Trojans. Ball security is paramount for a Duke offense that on paper should be able to move the ball with ease.
On the road, explosives can give a home team all the momentum it needs to pull off an unlikely upset. Add in a rowdy home crowd (yes, they will be serving adult beverages in Troy), and a few key plays could be all it takes for the tables to turn on Duke. The Blue Devils’ surrendered a few explosives in the return game against Elon, and a similar missed assignment on the road could lead to a game-changing score. Similarly, Duke’s young secondary must keep the Trojan receivers, led by Chandler Worthy in week one. If Troy jumps out to a lead, expect them to try and ride their own four-headed running back committee of Brandon Burks, Jordan Chunn, Khary Franklin and Tim Longmire to victory.
WHY DUKE WILL WIN
The Trojans are searching for a defensive identity and the Blue Devils’ offensive playmakers will leave them searching for answers. As they did for most of their season opener, Duke will control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Multiple Duke RBs will find their way into the end zone, while the Duke WR trio of Jamison Crowder, Issac Blakeney, and Max McCaffrey will continue their early season success. Carlos Wray and company will frequent the Trojan backfield and Troy will again struggle to convert on third down.
As they did a year ago in week two at Memphis, expect the Blue Devils to face their first true adversity of the season on Saturday at Troy. The Trojans will be motivated to bounce back after an embarrassing opening week loss, and will keep this close early. Behind a big day from #TheStable and a bend-but-not-break defense, Duke pulls away in the second half.
Duke 41, Troy 20