Though Duke and Wake Forest enter Saturday’s clash with 1-0 records, they got there much differently.
The Blue Devils thrashed a hapless North Carolina Central 49-6, exploding for all their points in the first half and playing reserves through most of the second.
The Deacs just never exploded, and clung on to a 7-3 win over Tulane at BB&T Field.
The Deacs, still eager to show improvement on the offensive side of the ball, get their second shot of the season — this time against a in-state conference rival.
Here are the two keys to a Wake Forest victory.
Win one-on-one battles against the Duke secondary
The Wake receivers don’t have to win them all, but they have to post some individual one-on-one wins against the talented and experienced Duke defensive backs.
With the Blue Devils starting three seniors and a junior in their secondary, the task is tall for the Wake receiver, who struggled making plays against Tulane last week.
But it’s not impossible, as the Deacs have successfully thrown against this defense each of the last two year, with John Wolford amassing nearly 600 yards combined in the air.
Matt James was the top receiver in 2014 in Durham, with nine catches for 87 yards — a career high. Wolford found Brandon Terry, Cam Serigne and Jared Crump for touchdown passes in that contest.
Last year, at BB&T Field, it was tight end Serigne who came through with 135 yards receiving and a touchdown. Cortez Lewis had five catches for 68 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown grab.
The Deacs simply can’t go 0-for in their attempts to go vertical this week like they did against Tulane. For Wake to compete, the receivers have to compete — and win their share of battles.
Win the turnover battle
The Deacs were -13 in turnovers in 2015, but were clean against Tulane last week. The Blue Devils fumbled six times against NC Central, losing five of them.
Of course, it would be silly to overreact over the results of one contest, especially considering most of those mishaps were among Duke’s reserves, but it does shed light on a huge opportunity for the Deacs — and a focus area for the team all through both spring and summer camp, forcing turnovers.
Win the turnover battle, and perhaps even generate a score on defense this week and the Deacs could come out on top.