Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2019

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

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32 NOV. 9, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED "Daniel Jones could have had way better numbers the last couple of years if it wasn't for the receiv- ing corps he was throwing to," he said. "Last year, they had 48 dropped passes in 13 games. It was a real problem. Last year, they had three seniors at wide receiver and two se- nior tight ends who did most of the playing." Now that those players have grad- uated, a younger group that's better at making contested catches has been thrown into the mix, and Wiseman noted that it's been an upgrade. True freshman Jalon Calhoun is a 5-11 wideout who leads the team in re- ceptions with 37 (for 294 yards) and touchdown catches with three. Junior tight end Noah Gray is also heavily involved in the offense with 32 catches for 238 yards and two scores. Wiseman has also been impressed with how well the line has played, particularly the two young offensive tackles. Redshirt freshman Casey Holman is the left tackle and true freshman Jacob Monk is the right tackle. "Surprisingly, they've done pretty well," Wiseman said. "It really bodes well for the future because they've held their own out there. There were a few issues here and there against Alabama maybe. But other than that, they've been pretty good." DEFENSE Heading into November, the Duke team efficiency defense was ranked No. 20 in the Football Bowl Subdivi- sion, which was ahead of unbeaten teams such as LSU and Baylor, plus Oklahoma, USC and Washington. What's unique about this Blue Devils defense is it is stout up front, with four returning starters. "Even six, seven years ago when they started this bowl streak, that was still a weakness," Wiseman said. "They've recruited really well, and they've upgraded coaching with Ben Albert coming over from Boston Col- lege to be the defensive line coach four years ago. "He's made a big difference there. So they're able to get pressure on teams with just their front four and not having to blitz as much." This group is led, at least in pro- duction, by junior defensive end Vic- tor Dimukeje. He's on the smaller side at 6-2, 265 pounds, but he's fast and powerful. Through eight games, he had 28 total stops, 7.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 6.5 sacks. "He got a lot of playing time as a true freshman and a few starts, and he's been a big find for them," Wise- man said. "He was a three-star guy they were able to develop." As a team, the Blue Devils are av- eraging 2.6 sacks per game. The other defensive end, redshirt sophomore Chris Rumph II, has a team-best 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks among 30 total stops. In total, there were eight return- ing starters on this 4-2-5 Blue Devil defense. Two of the starters Duke needed to replace were the lineback- ers, but senior Koby Quansah came in with plenty of experience as a backup and is now leading the team in tackles with 73. An area Duke has developed well in recent seasons is its defensive backs, and this year is no different. Senior safety Dylan Singleton is sec- ond on the team in tackles with 56. One of the other safeties, junior Mar- quis Waters, is tied for the team lead in pass deflections with five and inter- ceptions with two. He is also fourth on the team in total tackles with 43. MATCHUP WITH THE IRISH This should be the toughest de- fense Notre Dame faces for the rest of the season, or at least until the Irish play in a bowl game. Notre Dame should have the upper hand on both sides of the ball, but Wiseman could see Duke keeping the game somewhat close in the first half, as it did against Alabama in the season opener Aug. 31 when it was 14-3 at the intermission. The other aspect Duke has going for it is that a handful of the play- ers were on the team when the Blue Devils took down the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium in 2016. "There are people on this team that played on that in that game and they know they can, they know they can do it, so they'll have a little bit of con- fidence from that," Wiseman said. "But honestly, I think Notre Dame is two touchdowns better than Duke, at least. That's what I'll go into the game expecting." ✦ GAME PREVIEW: DUKE Senior safety Dylan Singleton ranked second on the team with 56 tackles through eight contests. PHOTO COURTESY DUKE ATHLETICS 2019 DUKE SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Aug. 31 vs. Alabama* L, 42-3 Sept. 7 North Carolina A&T W,45-13 Sept. 14 at Middle Tennessee W, 41-18 Sept. 27 at Virginia Tech W, 45-10 Oct. 5 Pittsburgh L, 33-30 Oct. 12 Georgia Tech W, 41-23 Oct. 19 at Virginia L, 48-14 Oct. 26 at North Carolina L, 20-17 Nov. 9 Notre Dame (ACCN) 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 Syracuse TBA Nov. 23 at Wake Forest TBA Nov. 30 Miami TBA * Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta 2019 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 2 at Louisville W, 35-17 Sept. 14 New Mexico W, 66-14 Sept. 21 at Georgia L, 23-17 Sept. 28 Virginia W, 35-20 Oct. 5 Bowling Green W, 52-0 Oct. 12 USC W, 30-27 Oct. 26 at Michigan L, 45-14 Nov. 2 Virginia Tech W, 21-20 Nov. 9 at Duke (ACCN) 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 Navy (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Nov. 93 Boston College (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at Stanford TBA ACCN — ACC Network

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