Duke football is shifting gears dramatically this week, so much so that the Blue Devils have moved everything up a day.
Duke (3-3, 0-2 ACC) is in the thick of preparations for a Friday night game at No. 7 Louisville (4-1, 2-1).
While Louisville had an open date last weekend, Duke was slogging through a 13-6 victory over Army in a game played in a torrential downpour, thanks to Hurricane Matthew. A Friday night game means Duke has less time than usual to get ready.
“It’s just a shorter week,” Duke redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones said. “We’ll pack a lot into the week. It’s not like we’ll be doing any less preparation.”
“The short week doesn’t effect us all that much,” agreed Duke defensive end Dominic McDonald. “We still practice in the same format; we just move everything up a day. Monday we worked on Tuesday’s schedule; Tuesday means working on Wednesday’s schedule. We’ll be ready Friday.”
The difference between an unranked, run-oriented Army team and a wide-open Louisville team also means a big shift in thinking for the Blue Devils. Army led the nation in rushing offense before last Saturday’s mudfest. With dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson running their show as a top Heisman candidate, the Cardinals have the nation’s top offense, averaging 58 points and 650 yards (350 yards passing).
Duke linebacker Joe Giles-Harris compared the Blue Devils’ win against Army to “a fun game played with your brothers in the backyard. ... That game was crazy. I’ve never played a game in that much rain.”
Giles-Harris called this Friday’s contest “an opportunity. ... You don’t get a chance to play against a team like Louisville or a player like Lamar Jackson everyday.”
“It’s a challenge,” McDonald said of Friday’s nationally televised contest.
Not only will Duke be tasked with trying to keep pace with the nation’s best offense, the Devils may be forced to do it with a rearranged lineup. Jela Duncan, Duke’s top rusher so far this season (with 354 yards, 5.4 per carry), and starting center Austin Davis both went down last Saturday with leg injuries.
Switching centers in mid-season might cause a hiccup. But Jones doubts that will be a factor, regardless whether Davis is able to play Friday or if redshirt sophomore Zach Harmon starts at center.
“I’ve taken most of my snaps in practice from Austin, but I’ve worked with both of them,” Jones said. “I’m confident in both of them.”