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Opponent Breakdown: Duke Blue Devils Offense

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NCAA Football: Northwestern at Duke William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

David Cutcliffe made his career as a quarterback guru after coaching Peyton Manning and others but his stint as Duke’s head coach has been very up and down. Cutty got the program to 10 wins in 2013 but as of now, that is his win total over the last three years. The Duke offense has also seen some ups and downs recently with Daniel Jones becoming a star before the lack of stars hindered the offense after his departure. The Blue devils have lost six in a row but hope to be more healthy this week.

Duke should have Gunnar Holmberg back for the game this week after missing last week with an injury. Holmberg is the ACC leader in completion percentage and he can extend plays with his legs. While duke hasn’t been very good over the last two months, Holmberg gives them an opportunity to win games. He has good size, a solid arm, and the ability to run gives him the chance to pick up third downs with his legs. Holmberg being back in the lineup changes this game, in my opinion.

The star of the offense is Mataeo Durant. Louisville is coming off facing the second-best rusher in the nation and they now get to face another guy in the top ten. Durant is a complete back who can catch the ball out of the backfield, break long runs, and grind for tough yardage. The struggles of the team seem to coincide with the lack of usage and effectiveness of Durant. Durant has not averaged more than 5 yards per touch in over a month and in the one game where they gave him 44 touches, he averaged just 3.6 yards per play. Durant is the key to the offense but they have had some real issues getting him going recently.

The passing offense for Duke has some struggles because they don’t have a dynamic receiver to make big plays consistently. Jalon Calhoun is a big-play threat in the slot with three touchdowns on the season. Calhoun leads the team in yards and has two 100-yard games on the season. On the outside, Mike Bobo and his 6-5 frame lead the team in catches as a reliable possession receiver. Bobo can make contested catches but hasn’t made a lot of big plays down the field.

Duke’s offense does a good job of protecting the quarterback but the mobility of their quarterback group helps them out. The amount of negative plays for this offense is probably a better indicator for how this group performs and they are ranked 109th. The inconsistency of the offense starts up front and UofL should be able to take advantage if the defense performs as they did against Syracuse.