The Army Black Knights (3-2) dropped their second game in a row (either side of their bye week) with a fruitless trip down to North Carolina where they lost to the Duke Blue Devils (3-3). Army was hoping to avenge the 44-3 defeat to Duke last season, but it was not to be in a scrappy, ugly, weather-affected game in Durham. Jeff Monken will be frustrated with the manner of this loss and knows now he has to work hard to get this season back on track.
Here is a look back at three keys in the loss to the Blue Devils:
1) Crack Duke's option defense
The Duke option defense once again proved to be impossible to crack to the level needed to win the game. Duke had won its previous four games against triple-option sides (Georgia Tech x 2, Navy, Army) and it was able to once again combine strong play in the front seven with safeties playing downhill against the run to keep the Army rushing attack under control. This was actually easier than normal for the Blue Devils to do, given that the weather made it impossible for Army to throw the ball and keep Duke honest defensively.
Duke was holding its opponents to 3.4 yards per carry coming into the game and Army was a little better than that as they rushed for 3.8 yards per tote. This was almost all down to Andy Davidson who carried the team on his own as he rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries. The rest of the team, by comparison, rushed for just 1.6 yards per carry on 27 rushing attempts.
2) Stop Jela Duncan rushing for 100 yards - Pass
Duke always wins when Jela Duncan rushes for 100 yards or more in a game. On Saturday the Blue Devils proved they could also win when Duncan falls far short of that mark. Carries by the strong defense more than any kind of offensive threat, Duke was able with take a victory with their senior running back carrying 10 times for just 40 yards. Duncan, who is coming back from an injury, split time with Shaun Wilson at the tailback position, with Wilson carrying 14 times for 50 yards. Neither back was particularly impressive given the weather, but they combined to do enough 9along with the running of quarterback Daniel Jones) to get key first downs in the first half.
3) The impact of Hurricane Matthew - Fail
We expected Hurricane Matthew to have an impact on this game and that proved to be the case as the contest was played in torrential rain, drenching the teams and the field throughout the afternoon. The impact of the storm was easy to see as neither team was able to pass the ball for more than 50 yards through the air. Just as telling was the fact that neither side was able to score a single point in the second half, meaning that the 13-6 lead Duke built before the break carried them home. It was an awful day for modern football and, if we are honest, Army did not make the adjustments necessary to pull out a victory.