Fresh off their heartbreaking loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions, the Army Black Knights return to Michie Stadium in search of their first home victory.
Head coach Jeff Monken listed both sophomore Ahmad Bradshaw and senior A.J. Schurr as the co-starting quarterbacks. This points to a potential rotation of the two payers, which is rarely an effective strategy.
Duke is coming off a 9-7 win over Boston College and they faced a triple option offense two weeks ago in Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils surrendered only 173 rushing yards against the Yellow Jackets en route to a 34-20 victory.
If Army is to have any chance in this game, they'll have to break through the Duke rush defense and cannot fall behind 19-3 in the first quarter like Georgia Tech did.
Duke has a wide variety of players who are injured or suspended for an indefinite amount of time. Seniors linebacker Kelby Brown, cornerback Bryon Fields, and guard Cody Robinson are all out for the season or an unknown amount of time. Sophomore linebacker Chris Holmes is questionable to return for the game after missing the last two Duke contests. While sophomore wide receiver Terrence Alls remains suspended indefinitely.
For Army, sophomore tackle Brett Toth is listed as questionable. If he cannot play, look for the Black Knights to keep the same offensive line formation as they did against Penn State with sophomore Rick Kurz at left tackle and senior Ryan Alexander on the right side.
On defense, Army could be without junior defensive end Jordan Smith and sophomore free safety Rhyan England, both are recovering from concussions. But they could dress if they pass the head injury protocols.
What to Watch
Army's defense prevented an inconsistent offense in Penn State from doing much last week. They face another struggling offense in Duke and they'll have to keep the Blue Devils out of sync to give themselves a chance.
But they'll have to deal with dual threat junior quarterback Thomas Sirk, who averages 212.6 passing yards per game and is tied for the team lead in rushing yards (272).
Duke's defense has already contained the triple option once this season so the game breaking difference between the Black Knights and the Blue Devils may be special teams.
Army's special teams have either made crucial mistakes or not provided much in the way of significant gains. The Black Knights have averaged about 17 yards per kickoff return and only 2.3 on punts.
Duke, on the other hand, has great special teams. Junior safety DeVon Edwards ran two kickoffs for touchdowns and totaled 278 yards in returns. The team averages slightly over 30 yards per kickoff and 9.7 on punt returns.
Meanwhile, Duke senior punter Will Monday averages 46.3 yards per kick, which is five more yards than Army senior punter Alex Tardieu's average.
Those two factors could tilt the action towards Duke's side. Gaining the advantage in field position gives Duke the obvious shorter field, but forces Army to go on longer drives and increases their chances of turning the ball over. Something the Black Knights did in spades last week against the Nittany Lions.
How to Watch
The game will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network at noon from Michie Stadium. Knight Vision also provides streams for all Army home games.
What kind of changes does Army head coach Jeff Monken have to confuse a Blue Devil defense that stymied the Georgia Tech triple option? Unfortunately, a rotating door at quarterback isn't something that will enhance the offense, and more likely would slow it down.
The Black Knights haven't seen a quarterback like Sirk yet this season. Having junior linebackers Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf rush Sirk will just force him to the outside with possible disastrous results. But it can also lead to potential turnovers.
Army hasn't won at home since the 2014 season and this game will prove quite difficult to break the trend. But if the defense can repeat last week's performance they'll have a chance.
Duke 17, Army 14