Photo by John Nakano

Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame hit the Jackets hard. The Jackets had high hopes of making a name for themselves on the national stage. Like the Blue Devils, the Jackets entered Game Three with high hopes after two huge victories against Alcorn State and Tulane. However, the Jackets left South Bend, Ind., disappointed after their fourth quarter scramble wasn’t enough to secure them a victory against No. 8
Notre Dame.

Tech has proven to be a team with incredible drive, refusing to lie on their backs and submit to defeat. However if Duke is able to rattle Tech’s option offense early on, the Blue Devils may be able to gain the upper hand.

It will be important that Tech performs well in both halves against Duke. Tech’s defense didn’t perform powerfully during the second half of their match against Notre Dame, and the offensive line did a poor job in both halves, missing more than half their assignments.

Coach Johnson expressed disappointment at the defensive lack of power but later said that the Jackets will move forward and prepare for their match
against Duke.

“We’ll flush it,” Johnson said. “You put it behind you and
move forward.”

For defensive coordinator Ted Roof, moving forward will mean preparing Tech’s defense to hit with strength in the secondary and ensuring that Tech’s linebackers perform the entire game.  Tech’s defense had half as many sacks against Notre Dame as they had in each of their first two games. When it comes to tackles, Tech kept the numbers on par with previous games, but their hitting game was weak.

With a week to work through the growing pains that were expected as the Jackets break in new players, Jacket fans have every hope that Tech will come back ready to put together two dynamic halves against the Duke
Blue Devils.

The Blue Devils began the season defeating both Tulane and NC Central easily.  With only six offensive and six defensive players returning, head Coach David Cutcliffe did some rebuilding before kicking off 2015’s season.  He managed to resurrect Duke’s lacking rush defense into one of the most intimidating in the ACC. However, a powerful defense on the ground was not enough to gain the Blue Devil’s a victory against Northwestern.Quarterback Thomas Sirk’s five-yard touchdown during the first quarter was not as impressive as his performance in the previous two games. Duke’s loss against No. 18 Northwestern makes some of their fans doubtful that they will be able to defeat No. 20 Tech.

Justin Thomas’s unrivaled speed and his ability to man Coach Johnson’s triple option will be the biggest difficulty for the Blue Devils. However, Coach Cutcliffe has filled the defensive gaps with fresh faces and will be relying on a faster, stronger rushing defense to rival the Jackets’
offense.

Duke’s matchup with Tech is the perfect opportunity for the Blue Devils to show how formidable their defense really is. If the Blue Devils can shut down Tech’s rush attack in the first half, they will gain the upper hand against Coach Johnson’s triple option. As Notre Dame proved last week, limiting Tech’s offensive passing attack throws Justin Thomas and the option offense off.

Not only is Duke’s defense boasting a new need for speed, it has welcomed several new power hitters into its ranks. Sophomore linebacker Zavier Carmichael has taken over play calling after an ACL injury landed Kelby Brown a permanent position on the
sidelines.

Senior safety Jeremy Cash has established himself as a powerful defensive playmaker and a critical component in Duke’s defensive strategy.  As Duke’s strongest defensive hitter, Cash will likely hug the line of scrimmage in order to smother Tech’s explosive offense.

If Sirk is able to complete his passes, Duke’s offense could see more success against Tech than they did against Northwestern.  Much like the Jackets, the key to Duke’s success will be putting together two well-played halves.