Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Three Keys Revisited – Army vs Duke

So it turns out that the Duke defense is for real. The Black Knights dropped to 1-5 on the season, while Duke improved to 5-1 for the third time in the last four years, as the Blue Devils dismantled Army in every phase of the game on Saturday.

The final score was 44-3 to Duke and it was one of those games where the team on top never looked like losing. Army just could not get the offense working and as a result suffered by far the most demoralizing defeat of the year to date.

Here is a look back at the three keys:

1) Win on third down – Fail

Going into this game the Duke defense was expected to be a tough nut for Army to crack. Having said that there were not that many who thought that the Blue Devils could systematically shut down the triple option in the way they did on Saturday. Duke had been tough on third down all season allowing the opposition to convert on just 23 percent of their tries. Somehow their third down ranking got even better against Army as the Black Knights went 3-of-14 on third down, which is a 21 percent conversion rate. The Black Knights were 2-of-3 on fourth down, however, so maybe the tactic should have been to not punt the ball at any point!

2) Run the ball - Fail

Army cannot win if it cannot run the ball. On Saturday the triple option was blown up by a Duke team which had done a similar job on the Georgia Tech offense earlier this year. Army rushed for just 44 yards on 26 carries in the first half, good for an average 1.7 yards per carry, as Duke rolled up a 27-0 half time lead. It didn’t really get much better from there as the Mids finished the day with just 113 yards rushing for the game on 49 carries. Throw in four fumbles (two lost) and an injury to quarterback A.J. Schurr and this was an all-around bad day at the office for an offense which was overmatched physically and athletically by one of the best defenses in the nation.

3) Win the turnover battle – Fail

Army did not just lose the turnover battle, they lost it unequivocally. Duke did not turn over the ball once, while Army did three times courtesy of two fumbles and an interception. The fumbles have become a real problem for Army this year and two errant pitches when the game was still a contest really gave the Black Knights no chance to win on Saturday. Army had drives end with fumbles when down 3-0 and 10-0 in the first half. If either of these drives is completed with even a field goal then this could have been a very different game. As it was the Blue Devils scored 14 points off of these two turnovers to take a commanding 17-0 lead and never looked threatened again.

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