Scouting Duke: how the Blue Devils win...

Test the Tigers' secondary, early and often; balance the attack

Duke returns both starting quarterback Sean Renfree and running back Juwan Thompson in 2012. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Duke returns both starting quarterback Sean Renfree and running back Juwan Thompson in 2012. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

How the Blue Devils win...

1. Look deep: Duke should go into the game with a plan to test Clemson's stretched-thin secondary early and often. Duke is on pace to set a new school scoring record, and big plays in the passing game have become a Blue Devil staple. Duke has had at least three plays of 20 yards or more in every game this season, and six plays of 50 yards or more. In his career, Sean Renfree has thrown eight touchdown passes or more than 50 yards. If the Tigers get lost in coverage, he'll find an open receiver. Three Blue Devils currently rank among the ACC's top five in receptions.

2. Take off and run: Duke's quarterbacks are opportunistic runners, predisposed to turn a sliver of daylight into big yardage. The Blue Devils' top three quarterbacks - Renfree, Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone - have combined for 27 career rushing touchdowns, including seven by Connette and Boone this season.

3. Balance the attack: The rushing element in Duke's offense has improved steadily under coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils are averaging 126 rushing yards per game this season - their highest in seven seasons. Jela Duncan and Josh Sneed give the Blue Devils a solid, 1-2 punch. If Duke can run the football with even moderate success, it makes the Blue Devils' passing game all the more dangerous. On Saturday, FSU shut down Duke's running game, limited the Blue Devils to 3.1 yards per attempt, and then pressured Duke's quarterbacks into a sub-par, 16-of-37 passing day (3-of-15 by backup quarterback Anthony Boone).

© 2012 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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