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Three Keys – Army vs Duke

After falling just short against Penn State last Saturday the Black Knights (1-4) get to face another Power Five foe as Duke travels to West Point. The Blue Devils were expected to have something of a down year after losing a number of starters from a team which went 9-4 in 2014. Instead the school which is known more for its basketball success has kicked on and enters this matchup sitting at 4-1 on the season.

With that being said here are the three keys to Army’s clash with the Blue Devils:

1) Win on third down

The strength of this Duke team is its defense. That is how the Blue Devils won a football game last Saturday without scoring a touchdown, settling for three field goals in a 9-7 win over Boston College. The defense does a number of things well, but one of its greatest assets is its ability to get other offenses off of the field on third down. The Blue Devils rank sixth nationally in third down defensive conversion percentage, allowing a third down conversion on just 19 of the 83 opportunities teams have had against them this year. That is right around 23-percent on the season. If Army is to beat Duke then winning the battle on third down, preferably with a large amount of third and short opportunities, will be key.

2) Run the ball

Ominously this Duke defense held one of the premier rushing attacks in the country to less than three yards per carry two weeks ago when the Blue Devils knocked off a then ranked Georgia Tech squad. The Yellow Jackets do not run the same exact triple option offense which Army do, but the similarities in scheme are obvious. Army will be looking to use more tight end sets than Georgia Tech did, giving plenty of unbalanced looks on the offensive line, to try to confuse the Duke linebackers and make them miss their assignment keys. If this is achieved then Army can have success on the ground against this stingy defense.

3) Win the turnover battle

In a game which will probably be low scoring given the Blue Devils excellent defense and limited offense turnovers will be key. Army this year has lost six fumbles and thrown three interceptions, meaning nine drives in total where there is no chance to score points. For a team which has lost four games by a COMBINED 16 points, those nine possessions mean the difference between a 1-4 record and something much more respectable. If Army can keep the ball off of the ground and make Duke drive the length of the field to score then the Black Knights will be in a great position to cause an upset on Saturday.


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