The Daily Nole

FSU Football: A First Look at Duke

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Florida State will head back to the state of North Carolina for a second time in three weeks on Saturday as it faces another school in desperate need of a win. Duke will be looking to snap a 2-game skid after a 4-0 start.

Among teams that were in the ACC when FSU joined the conference in 1992, Duke is the only one never to beat the Seminoles in conference play. The schools have not met since the 2013 ACC Championship and not in Durham since 2011.

On Duke

Record: 4-2 (1-2 ACC)
Offensive Ranks: 62nd in yards per game (414), 82nd in passing yards per game (210.3), 34th in rushing yards per game (203.7), 57th in points per game (31.5).
Defensive Ranks: 16th in yards per game allowed (294.2), 44th in passing yards per game allowed (206.2), 7th in rushing yards per game allowed (88), 32nd in points per game allowed (20).
Last Game: Lost at Virginia 28-21 on Saturday.

On Offense

After a hot start to 2017, sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones has had a dismal couple of weeks, totaling a completion rate of just 42 percent while passing for just 290 combined yards in losses to Miami and Virginia. Jones was solid as a freshman a season ago and can make plays with his arm and legs, but has struggled mightily of late. Junior wide receiver T.J. Rahming is Jones’ top target with 28 catches for 314 yards. Johnathan Llyod, who has 22 receptions for 236 yards and a score, is the only other Duke player with more than 10 catches although three of tight end Davis Koppenhaver’s seven catches have gone for touchdowns.

In the backfield, Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown are in the midst of solid seasons. The two have combined for 867 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on a 5.9 yards per carry average. Redshirt senior center Austin Davis anchors an offensive line for the Blue Devils that starts three seniors. That unit has allowed 18 sacks this year.

On Defense

With 19 sacks to this point, the Blue Devils’ defensive line has been one of the bright spots this season. Defensive tackle Mike Ramsay leads the team with 4.5 sacks while freshman defensive end Drew Jordan has excelled as a pass-rusher with three sacks on the year. The strength of a good Duke defense may be the linebackers as Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys have combined for 17 tackles for loss. Giles-Harris leads the team with 58 total tackles and is second in the team with 3.5 sacks.

The secondary has also been a strength. Cornerbacks Byron Fields, a senior, and sophomore Mike Gilbert each rank second in the ACC with three interceptions. Fields has returned a pair of those interceptions back for touchdowns. Senior safety Alonzo Saxton is also in the midst of a solid year. Saxton ranks second for the Blue Devils with 37 total tackles to go along with a forced fumble.

On Special Teams

Kicker Austin Parker is having a solid season for Duke by making nine of his 11 field goal attempts with a long of 45 yards. Parker has not been as good as a punter, averaging 40.2 yards per boot. Shaun Wilson is a dangerous return man for Duke. The Blue Devils have been excellent in kick and punt coverage.


As is usually the case with a David Cutcliffe-coached Duke team, the Blue Devils tend to make the most of what they have on the roster. To the surprise of many, Duke has been carried by its defense thus far in 2017. Jones’ recent struggles at quarterback have run parallel with Duke’s struggles as a team. The Seminoles will continue to try to keep Jones in check on Saturday.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply