Duke (1-0) at Troy (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 6, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Duke 0-0, Troy 1-0. Away Record: Duke 0-0, Troy 0-0. Neutral Record: Duke 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: Duke 0-0, Troy 0-0. Series Record: Duke leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Duke Blue Devils take aim at their second win of the season, as they visit the Troy Trojans at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
This will be Duke's first encounter with an FBS program this season, as it took on Elon of the FCS in week one. The Blue Devils were able to flex their muscles against the Phoenix, rolling to a 52-13 victory. It was an excellent start for the Blue Devils, who are coming off the first 10-win campaign in program history.
Troy had much different results in their first game of the 2014. While on the road against UAB, the Trojans were completely dominated as they suffered a 48-10 loss. It was quite a setback for Larry Blakeney's squad, which is attempting to end a three-year bowl drought.
These teams met for the first time last year, with Duke escaping with a 38-31 victory at home.
With eight returning starters on offense from a team that averaged more than 30 points per game last season, the Blue Devils were bound to score points at a high rate, especially in the season opener. They certainly lived up to that expectation, finishing with 567 yards of total offense and 52 points.
The two most important players on this side of the ball are quarterback Anthony Boone and wide receiver Jamison Crowder. The duo appeared to be as in sync as ever against Elon. Boone completed 22-of-33 pass attempts for 247 yards and four touchdowns before being taken out with the game well in hand.
Crowder hauled in a game-high seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. He and Boone should continue to be one of the ACC's best quarterback-receiver tandems throughout the season. Max McCaffrey (five receptions, 65 yards) and Issac Blakeney (four receptions 45 yards, two TDs) were also important pieces of last year's team, and they continue to serve as productive second and third options.
As a team, Duke piled up 275 rushing yards against Elon. Josh Snead finished with a team-high 74 yards on 12 carries. Shaun Wilson had 71 yards on just six attempts, while starter Shaquille Powell (54 yards, TD) and Thomas Sirk (55 yards, two TDs) were also effective.
On defense, Duke allowed 328 yards to Elon, but it had an advantage of 31-17 in first downs. The Blue Devils also played well in crucial moments, holding the Phoenix to a 4-of-14 success rate on third down, and just one touchdown in three trips to the red zone. However, the defense did not force a turnover and only had three tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks.
A year ago, Troy ranked 27th in the country in total offense (463.3 ypg). The Trojans did not look nearly as potent against UAB, finishing with just 272 yards on 67 plays. They also managed only 15 first downs, while scoring a single touchdown in just three trips to the red zone.
Of course it was already going to be difficult to replicate last year's offensive production with quarterback Corey Robinson no longer taking snaps. Brandon Silvers and Dontreal Pruitt may be in for a season-long competition for the job. Silvers started against UAB and did well enough (17-of-24, 162 yards), but he was sacked four times. Pruitt (4-of-6, 39 yards) saw action in the loss as well.
Brandon Burks did just about everything else on offense for the Trojans, as he led the team with 42 yards on eight carries and also had a team-high five receptions, although he totaled only 23 yards through the air. Jordan Chunn scored the team's only touchdown, but he averaged only 1.4 yards per carry.
Chandler Worthy (two receptions, 46 yards) and K.D. Edenfield (two receptions, 35 yards) were the closest the Trojans came to having explosive threats in the contest.
Obviously, the offense isn't the only area where the Trojans need to make drastic improvements. After all, they allowed 490 yards to the Blazers, while surrendering 25 first downs and 48 points. It is doubtful the needed changes will be arriving soon, considering the Trojans were 112th in the country in total defense last year (483.2 ypg).
Montres Kitchens tallied a game-high eight tackles for the unit and he also came up with an interception. Billy Dobbs tallied six stops, including one of the team's three for loss.
The quarterback situation at Troy seems to be a work in progress and the defense doesn't appear to be a group that will have much success keeping Boone from hitting Crowder all night. Duke should move to 2-0 rather easily.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Duke 41, Troy 14
09/03 11:11:37 ET