After dismantling N.C. A&T this previous Saturday, Duke travels to Murfreesboro, Tenn., for but any other matchup towards a group outdoor the Energy 5.

This time, the Blue Devils will probably be taking up Heart Tennessee at Johnny “Purple” Floyd Stadium this Saturday at 7 p.m. for the primary ever assembly between the 2 faculties. Remaining yr marked the Blue Raiders’ perfect season since they joined Convention USA in 2013, as head trainer Rick Stockstill’s squad completed 7-1 in convention and seemed in this system’s first Convention USA championship sport.

“[Middle Tennessee] has a perfect program,” head trainer David Cutcliffe mentioned. “This can be a championship program, hats off to [Stockstill]. Heart Tennessee is a smart soccer college…it is a large, difficult problem for our soccer group—they understand it. They’re very conscious about that.”

However 2019 brings a new-look Blue Raiders unit, and all of it begins on the quarterback place. 

For the primary time since 2014, Heart Tennessee will start a season with out Brent Stockstill as their beginning quarterback. The Murfreesboro local graduated as this system’s all-time chief in completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Over the summer season, it used to be unclear who would fill in for Stockstill underneath heart coming into the 2019 marketing campaign. Since then, redshirt sophomore Asher O’Hara has taken regulate of the task and has had luck so far.

O’Hara finished 22 of his 32 cross makes an attempt for 217 yards and two touchdowns within the Blue Raiders’ season-opening loss at Michigan, who had school soccer’s second-best protection in relation to general yards allowed in line with sport final yr. The Illinois local adopted that debut up with 367 yards and 4 ratings in a dominant 45-26 win towards Tennessee State.

It no doubt is helping that O’Hara has one of the crucial nation’s maximum skilled large receivers to throw to. Senior wideout Ty Lee entered this yr because the NCAA’s lively chief in occupation receptions and an honoree of the Biletnikoff Award Watch Record as the rustic’s height large receiver. The Georgia local has 9 catches for 116 yards and a landing via two video games this yr.

“You were given to position some force at the quarterback first,” Cutcliffe mentioned relating to mitigating Heart Tennessee’s aerial assault. “You’ll’t allow them to have time. They play incessantly with 4 receivers. They’ve were given other workforce teams. They’re going to throw numerous displays to get other people the ball the place they are able to get began working with it. It’s simply a part of your sport plan is you attempt to take what other people do actually smartly away as perfect you’ll.”

One large element Duke’s protection has to be careful for is the deep ball. Of O’Hara’s six landing passes at the yr, 5 have been longer than 20 yards, together with two of 59 and 80 yards to Jimmy Marshall and DJ England-Chisolm, respectively. 

“They’re an overly rapid staff,” protection Michael Carter II mentioned. “They’re other [from] week to week. They arrive out in numerous other formations that’s now not typical to what we in most cases see…on Saturday now we have in an effort to perform rapid.”

The tricky a part of containing that out of doors pace is that the Blue Raiders boast an impressive speeding assault as smartly. Even though they struggled to the song of simply 67 yards on 28 carries towards the Wolverines, O’Hara and corporate exploded for 237 yards on the same quantity of makes an attempt the following week.

The twin-threat sign caller rushed 11 instances for 103 yards within the contest, with sophomore working again Chaton Mobley including 104 yards on 9 makes an attempt and two touchdowns.

At the different finish of the ball, coordinator Scott Shafer has reworked Heart Tennessee into probably the most constant defensive teams outdoor the Energy 5. The Blue Raiders have posted two consecutive top-70 defensive campaigns because the former Syracuse head trainer got here to Murfreesboro, and that quantity shouldn’t deviate a lot this season. 

Heart Tennessee’s perfect defensive staff is most probably its safeties, beginning with redshirt senior Jovante Moffatt, who returns after lacking all however 4 video games final season whilst convalescing from shoulder surgical operation. Junior Reed Blankenship—who posted two interceptions and a blocked PAT this previous Saturday— joins him within the again finish, coming into 2019 at the Preseason All-C-USA group in addition to the watch lists for each the Bednarik Award—perfect defensive participant in school soccer—and Jim Thorpe Award—perfect defensive again.

Out of doors that duo, alternatively, the Blue Raiders are compelled to exchange their height 3 cornerbacks from final season, inexperience that Moffatt and Blankenship merely can’t conquer by means of themselves.

Nonetheless, Heart Tennessee does have some explosive athletes in its front-seven—together with linebackers Khalil Brooks and DQ Thomas—and will have to be an impressive check for a Duke offense making ready to go into its ACC slate after this sport.

“We’re going to be treating each and every sport adore it is an important sport on our time table,” quarterback Quentin Harris mentioned. “As a result of it’s. The following one is all the time an important one…we’re having a look ahead to taking part in [the Blue Raiders], and the sport there, an evening sport, which can all the time be a laugh.”

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