The Blue Devils returned 10 starters from last season, including the entire front seven. From the 2007 defense, Duke returned 82 percent of its tackles, 84 percent of its tackles for loss, 80 percent of its sacks, 91 percent of its interceptions, 82 percent of its pass break-ups, 85 percent of its quarterback hurries, 86 percent of its fumble recoveries, 64 percent of its forced fumbles, and 75 percent of its blocked kicks.
The experience has shown with improvement in the on-field product in 2008. The Duke defense is allowing only 308.0 yards per game, more than 100 yards fewer than last season when the Devils were last in the ACC with 424.3 yards per game allowed. Duke limited James Madison to seven points, 239 yards of total offense and just 51 passing yards. Against Northwestern, Duke limited the Wildcats to 77 yards rushing and 328 yards of total offense. Navy entered its game in Durham with the nation’s top rushing offense, but was held to more than 200 yards below their average with 207 rushing yards, including only 36 rushing yards in the second half.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look:
- This season, Duke’s opponents have converted their third down attempts only 19.1 percent of the time. The Blue Devils have stopped opponents on third down on 17 of 21 tries to rank seventh in the country in third down conversion percentage defense. James Madison was 0 for 8 and Northwestern was 4 of 13 on third down.
- Through the first three games of 2008, Duke has recorded 21 tackles for loss. Junior linebacker Vincent Rey leads the team with 5.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage while Greg Akinbiyi has 3.5 TFLs. Michael Tauiliili is next with 2.5 tackles for loss. In the last game against Navy, the Blue Devils had nine tackles for loss.
- Virginia’s young offensive line has done its job in pass protection, allowing just four sacks in three games. The Cavaliers are tied with Boston College for the fewest sacks allowed in the ACC.
Personnel & Strategy
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