The Army Black Knights (3-1) should be fit and fresh after their bye week as they travel south to Durham, North Carolina to face the Duke Blue Devils (2-3). Jeff Monken and the Black Knights are using revenge as a big motivating point in this one after Duke crushed Army 44-3 the last time the two teams met. That game featured a defensive clinic from the Blue Devils as Army was held to just 168 yards of offense for the game.
Here are the three keys to Army beating the Blue Devils:
1) Crack Duke's option defense
The Blue Devils have not been great on defense, in general, this year and they have given up a number of big plays. Most of those big plays have however come through the deep passing game, specifically deep and over the middle, and that is not an are Army really has the weapons to exploit. That means that the Black Knights will be running straight into the strength of the Duke defense, the Blue Devils athletic defensive front and linebackers.
Duke has won its last four games against triple-option teams and last season it held both Army and Georgia Tech to under three yards per rush. Even at 2-3 this season the Blue Devils are holding their foes to just 3.4 yards per carry, a stat that is in the top 25 nationally. Cracking this defense is not going to be easy and it may take all game.
2) Stop Jela Duncan rushing for 100 yards
This key is a pretty simple one. Duke's senior running back Jela Duncan looks like he will be back this weekend after missing the game against Virginia last Saturday with a leg injury. That Virginia game is one of three this season that the Blue Devils have lost. The Blue Devils however have never lost when Duncan hits the 100 yard rushing mark in a game. Thus Army must stop Duncan to have the best chance of winning.
3) The impact of Hurricane Matthew
It is always hard to predict the weather until you get a few hours out, but it seems likely that Hurricane Matthew will impact the game between Duke and Army in some way on Saturday. If the storm keeps its current (as of Thursday afternoon) course it will not be making a direct hit on Durham, but the wind and rain brought by the storm could very easily cause the contest to be played in conditions varying from rough to ridiculous. If the storm does hit it probably benefits an Army team that is going to run option regardless of sun, rain, snow, or meteor showers. It is Duke that would have to change their game plan and Army that would keep on keeping on.