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Clinic Talk: Duke Blue Devils Film Preview

Daniel Jones leads the Blue Devils from the QB position

Baylor v Duke Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The ACC is the land of quarterbacks in the mid 2010’s. Jameis Winston, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Kelly Bryant, Brad Kaaya, Chazz Surratt, Josh Jackson, Jerod Evans, Mitch Trubisky, Nate Peterman, Kurt Benkurt- the list goes on. The Duke Blue Devils young QB is no different. Daniel Jones is an athletic passer that can beat you on the ground or through the air and he’s making Duke viable again, again.

How does David Cutcliff get Duke to 4-0 in 2017? Through a series of runs and by bringing pressure on 3rd and long. It’s the same way Duke can gash up Miami, if the Hurricanes allow it that is. Check out a few plays below and see what Duke will bring to the table against Miami on Friday night.

Split Zone

I’ve discussed the split zone play and how Mark Richt had used it much more in Athens than he has at Miami, and my subsequent shock at such. Especially when Kaaya was the quarterback and back side defensive ends were squeezing down to make plays on the cutback game of Mark Walton. Duke uses the split zone often and that’s because it works. It keeps a defensive end guessing; Will I get blocked? Will I be a read? Will they bubble over me?

It’s a great play to slow down aggressive, fast defensive ends like what Miami brings to the table against a less athletic Duke squad. The H-Back or fullback (whatever you want him to be called) will block back away from the way the offensive line blocks. If the O-Line is zone blocking right, the HB blocks left and blocks the defensive end to that side. This allows the tailback to cut back across the center and get major yards because of the gap it leaves.

Duke Pass Rush

Miami was beaten often in 2016 by defenses that brought pressure while the Miami staff remained stubborn and only used 5 man protection (only blocking with the offensive line on passing plays). Against West Virginia, it started out no different and Kaaya struggled. Then Miami used 6 and 7 man protection (keeping RB’s and TE’s in to block) and next thing you know Miami rolls WVU and finally wins a bowl game.

Flash forward to 2017 and Miami will have to, especially on 3rd and long, keep extra blockers in. Duke will bring pressure in 3rd and long situations like they do in the clip we’re going to watch. If Miami wants Malik Rosier to go through his progressions and throw a nice ball they’ll have to give him time. Rosier can make extra time for himself with his athleticism but that can’t be the only answer or you wind up with turnovers and 4th and mediums instead of 1st downs.

Duke QB Counter

The Duke QB Counter is similar to the one Clemson uses with Kelly Bryant. Daniel Jones will fake outside zone and keep the ball himself. He follows behind the right guard and center in the clip I’ve broken down. The left tackle and guard block “down” on the defensive line and push them to the sideline. This leaves the linebackers to block and the center and right guard that pull will block them. The center will “kick” the first man that shows or block him out and to the sideline. The guard will “wrap” or turn up field and block the first defender he sees.

Daniel Jones keeps this one for a touchdown and this is another issue for over aggressive linebackers. They can be slowed down with counter looks. In the shotgun the inside linebackers “cross read” the backfield. Ex. The linebacker to the left (on the defensive side) will read the back to his right, and vice versa. When he does so and sees the RB go to his left, he will flow that way. Then the QB pulls and keeps it and he is out of position.

Football is a game of getting more blockers to the ‘point of attack’ or where you want to run the ball than there are defenders. This is no more evident than on this QB counter.

Duke Play-Action Pass

Once an offense runs a lot of quarterback draw, split zone, and inside zone they can lull the defense up and get them aggressive to stop the run. This is the perfect time to call a play-action pass. Duke does so in the clip we’re focusing on and the fake brings the linebacker up as does the play-action to the defensive end. This leaves the H-Back wide open running into the flat (where the numbers are painted on the field).

The outside receiver is running a ‘rub’ route or a slant to bump the corner and pick him. As long as the WR tries to run a real route it’s not called a pick and the HB will get into the flat uncovered and score. It’s a beautiful play after all the kicks and arc blocking the HB will do on split zone and inside zone read.

Miami has more talent than Duke but the Duke scheme is well crafted to take advantage of aggressive speedy defenses like Miami’s. Jones is a tough kid and while he doesn’t have the arm of Logan Woodside he can beat you deep with seams and fades. This will be a toss up game in Durham, NC on Friday night.

The S&P+ has Miami ranked 11th and Duke ranked 46th- I hope they’re right.