Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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30 NOV. 9, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY ANDREW MENTOCK I n hindsight, it may appear that former Duke quarterback Dan‑ iel Jones made the obvious right choice to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, yet many assumed he would come back for his senior year and help the Blue Devils face their dif‑ ficult 2019 schedule, which includes both Notre Dame and Alabama. Instead, Jones left and ended up being the No. 6 overall pick by the New York Giants. He is now the team's starter. His departure left Duke in a diffi‑ cult position and, in fall camp, a once promising season looked as if four wins was the ceiling, which would be a disappointment after finishing 8‑5 in 2018. But thanks to a high‑achieving de‑ fense, the Blue Devils (4‑4 overall, 2‑3 ACC) have a chance to extend their bowl game streak. Duke has made a bowl game in six of the last seven years — missing out in 2016 with a 4‑8 record. This is made even more impressive by the fact that prior to accepting an invite to the 2012 Belk Bowl, the Blue Devils had not played in a postsea‑ son game since 1994. Much of this more‑recent Duke success is due to the hiring of head coach David Cutcliffe in 2008. "When Cutcliffe got here, in the eight seasons prior to his arrival, Duke had won 10 games total," said Steve Wiseman, a sportswriter cov‑ ering Duke football for The Durham Herald Sun. "They were the worst program in the country. It wasn't even arguable. "So to go to six out of seven bowl games and be going for seven out of eight, it would be quite an achievement." If the Blue Devils do make a bowl game, it will only add to the pro‑ gram's sustained success, which they haven't seen to this level since the 1950s and '60s. OFFENSE Based on ESPN offensive and de‑ fensive team efficiencies, Duke was a balanced team in 2018, ranking 53rd and 43rd, respectively. That has not been the case this season. Head‑ ing into November, the Blue Devils ranked 90th in offense. Much of the regression on that side of the ball has to do with quarterback play. Most teams struggle to replace any top‑10 draft picks at the quarter‑ back position — unless, of course, you're Oklahoma and go from Baker Mayfield to Kyler Murray to Jalen Hurts — but it can be even harder to replace a signal‑caller at a program like Duke. During Duke's 4‑4 start, fifth‑year senior starting quarterback Quentin Harris completed 61.0 percent of his passes for 1,500 yards with 13 touch‑ downs and seven interceptions. "Quinten at quarterback, he's not an NFL guy like Daniel," Wiseman said. "He's not going to be a first‑ round pick or anything like that. He's not that kind of athlete, but he's got a pretty good arm. He's had some troubles with decision making every now and again, even though he's a fifth‑year senior. He knows the offense. "He's a new starter in the system, so different blitzes and stunts have confused him a little bit." A dimension Harris is able to add to Duke's offense is as a runner. He has 104 rushing attempts for 408 yards and six touchdowns, and Wise‑ man noted the team installed some option plays during the offseason to take advantage of his ability to run the ball. Harris has only 20 fewer running attempts than the team's starter in the backfield, Deon Jackson. The ju‑ nior running back is 6‑2, 215 pounds and was a second‑team All‑ACC pick last season. He has rushed for 487 yards and five scores with an average of 3.9 yards per carry. An area where Wiseman said this team has improved dramatically is at wide receiver. GAME PREVIEW: DUKE Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME AT DUKE Game Info Date: Nov. 9, 2019 Site: Wallace Wade Stadium (40,000) Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET Television: ACC Network Radio: This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 129) and on Notre Dame's IMG affiliates. Series Facts: This will be the sixth meeting between Duke and Notre Dame. The Irish have a 3-2 record in the series, but Duke won the last meeting 38-35 in South Bend in 2016. Head Coaches: Duke — David Cutcliffe (71-76, 12th season); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (87-37, 10th season). Noting Duke: With an all-time record of 514-526-31, Duke is 92nd in win percentage … The last Irish win over the Blue Devils was a 28-7 victory in 2007, which was one of three Notre Dame wins all season … Duke is 25th all time when it comes to total conference championships with 17 … Seven of the Blue Devil's conference championships have come in the ACC, and the other 10 come from the program's time in the Southern Conference … The last Duke conference championship came in 1989, when Steve Spurrier was the head coach … When Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones was taken with the No. 6 overall pick by the New York Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft, he became just the eighth player from Duke to be taken in the first round, which is tied for 60th all time … No Duke player has ever won the Heis- man Trophy. BETTER THAN EXPECTED With a stout defensive line and a strong overall defense, the Blue Devils are more formidable than one may think Junior defensive end Victor Dimukeje notched 28 total stops, 7.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 6.5 sacks during Duke's 4-4 start. PHOTO COURTESY DUKE ATHLETICS

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