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Boston College vs Duke: Blue Devils Team Preview

NCAA Football: Boston College at Duke Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Well we are 96 yards away from Zay Flowers taking over as the all time receiver in Boston College history. Six more touchdowns and he takes that crown too, along with the single season record as well. And although last week had some unfortunate moments, he still has a shot at taking in the single season receiving mark as well. That’s right, this is a positive spin zone blog now. Let’s see what the Blue Devils have to combat this is all-world force of nature.

After a bye week, Duke comes in second in the Coastal. They’re 5-3 and just walloped preseason darling Miami at Hard Rock.

I’m Blue (Da Ba De) Offense

The Duke offense is remarkably balanced run/pass. They’re notching just over 200 yards in each department.

Sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard is steady as they come. He’s completing 64% of his passes for 1693 yards, and a 10-4 TD:INT ratio. The 6-4, 212 pounder crucially adds a real rush threat as well, leading the team with 481 yards and eight touchdowns. Hafley’s defense has of course consistently struggled with mobile quarterbacks, and Leonard has already shown ability to make some magic.

BC has had zero luck in the turnover department, and it might not get any better this week. Duke is taking care of the football, averaging 0.8 turnovers a game.

Jalon Calhoun leads the team across the board on the receiving front. He has 31 catches and 443 yards with two touchdowns. The team lost second leading receiver Eli Pancol, likely for the season, per coach Mike Elko. The receiving group as a whole does a good job adding to the run game as well getting their hands dirty.

Rounding out a very strong backfield, Jordan Waters is a dual threat as well. He’s toted the rock 83 times for 410 and seven touchdowns. He’s added 100 yards receiving as well. Duke has a strong rotation at running back, with two others topping 300 yards on the season. And it all works thanks to a strong, veteran offensive line. Cool. Cool, cool, cool . . .

Delightfully Devilish Defense

Mike Elko has made a strong imprint already coming in from Texas A&M. The team went from allowing 40 a game last season to 22 this go around. Back on the whole turnover thing I alluded to earlier, Duke is second in the nation in turnover differential. Yes, the eight turnovers they forced Miami to cough up certainly does a number on that, but still wholly impressive. They’ve collected 15 fumbles and picked off five passes.

If there has been an issue, and it’s not perfect, pass defense has room for improvement. (Eyebrows raise just a little). Brandon Johnson is the name to keep an eye out for. They like to send him on the blitz, and the sophomore is credited with 3.5 sacks to date. That leads the team. He had two in the big win over Miami, and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions as well. The way they utilize this guy, BC needs to be hyper prepared, or Phil/Emmett are going to get hit for a big loss. Definitely not at some crucial juncture of the game.

But they are second to last in the conference in passing yards allowed. For as much as they deploy Johnson as they do, BC can hit this team through the air.

This defense doesn’t give up and fights hard, and it’s been their calling card. It’s just a sound group. No one maybe jumps off the page but the front seven gets the job done. They tackle and their players are put in positions to get the job done.

Other Notes

Duke’s starting kicker will miss this game due to personal reasons. He is 9/15 for the season. The likely next man up has been 6/6 on extra points, and hit his one and only attempt of the season.

This team is eyeing bowl legibility for the first time since 2018.