Game Preview: Duke vs. N.C. State

Posted by Laura Keeley on November 9, 2013 

Josh Snead, Anthony Boone and Ross Cockrell have taken the Blue Devils to new heights.

CHUCK LIDDY

Duke vs. N.C. State

When: 4 p.m.

Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham

Line: Duke by 10

TV/Radio: ESPNU/WDNC-620 AM, WKIX-102.9 FM

Scouting N.C. State (3-5, 0-5 in the ACC)

As Joe Giglio put it in our ask an opposing beat writer series, N.C. State doesn’t have the firepower on offense to keep up with a team like Duke. Injuries have played a part in that. So has inconsistent quarterback play, which also ties back into injuries.

Defensively, the Wolfpack will run some young players out there, particularly in the secondary (young players who haven’t had as much success as the Blue Devils’ young’ens). But two bright spots have been senior safety Dontae Johnson, who moved from corner and has NFL potential, and linebacker D.J. Green, who returned from a one-year suspension last year and has manned the strong side. He was ejected during the first half of the North Carolina game for targeting but should be back today.

But no matter how you slice it, it’s been a rough season for first-year coach Dave Doeren. Meanwhile, his old team, Northern Illinois, fresh off an Orange Bowl appearance that he missed, is 9-0. Regrets?

Scouting Duke (6-2, 2-2)

A Saturday feature to draw your attention to, which accompanies the picture at the top of this post:

For the first time in quite a while—1989 really— Duke is the top football team in the Triangle. While the rivalry between Duke and N.C. State is largely nonexistent (it doesn’t help when you only play twice in 12 years, as the current schedule is set up), the Blue Devils have placed an emphasis on in-state recruiting under Cutcliffe. When chasing the better prospects in North Carolina, some run-ins with the top state schools are inevitable.

And another must-read article, this one from Luke DeCock on redshirt senior offensive guard Perry Simmons. Generally the term "student-athlete" is met by laughter, but in the case of Simmons, a civil engineering major with a 3.83 GPA, it’s as legitimate as can be. Really, what Simmons has accomplished on and off the field—he’s started an ACC-best 45 straight games at right tackle—is truly remarkable.

Duke injury report

QUESTIONABLE

WR Brandon Braxton (shoulder) 

CB Ross Cockrell (ankle)

DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (lower body)

S Dwayne Norman (leg)

OUT

CB Jared Boyd (leg)

QB Thomas Sirk (leg) 

OUT FOR SEASON

OT Tanner Stone (leg)

With Ross Cockrell, it’s a matter of how effective he can be at less than 100 percent. Or, it is better just to rest him and hope he can heal that ankle further? Luckily for Duke, as demonstrated in the second half at Blacksburg, the defense can succeed without its best player

Key player for the opposition

RB Shadrach Thornton, So.

He’s the best the Wolfpack has on offense. Thornton, who took awhile to be identified as N.C. State’s best option after missing the season-opener with a suspension, averages a solid 5.0 yards per carry and has 447 yards and four touchdowns on the year. Especially with top receiver Bryan Underwood out and a quarterback controversy brewing, expect Thornton to carry the load.

Key Matchup

Duke’s running backs vs. N.C. State’s defensive line

The bottom fell out on the Wolfpack when Syracuse gained 362 yards on the ground on Oct. 12. If Duke’s trio of Jela Duncan, Josh Snead and Shaq Powell (remember Juwan Thompson is working at linebacker now) can get rolling early, it could be a quick game in Durham.

Junior defensive end Art Norman has been the most disruptive up front for N.C. State, recording 7.5 tackles for loss, including three sacks. Norman also has three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Key mismatch

N.C. State’s secondary vs. Duke’s receivers

The Wolfpack will trot out sophomore Justin Burris and freshman Jack Tocho and tell them to go cover Jamison Crowder, Braxton Deaver and company. Good luck with that.

Key numbers

2003 Last time Duke finished with a better record than UNC or N.C. State

33 Combined total tackles for linebackers Kelby Brown and David Helton in the win at Virginia Tech

0 Times the Wolfpack has topped 20 points in ACC play (five tries)

1-20 Duke’s November record under Cutcliffe

Pulse Check

"After you win games and go on a winning streak like we’ve been on, it’s just different. You walk a different way. Everything changes. You joke around a little bit more, but you get serious when it’s time to get serious. Just the atmosphere is different within the building itself. Winning is great for building confidence. When you’re winning, good things happen." – Ross Cockrell

My prediction

Cutcliffe has been talking about November since July, and now it’s finally here. Look for the Blue Devils to double their November win total today

Duke 45, N.C. State 17

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