On Saturday, the No. 24 Tar Heels (7-2, 3-2 ACC) will take on the Blue Devils (6-3, 3-2 ACC) in Kenan Stadium for UNC's senior day and homecoming game. Although North Carolina has won the past four matchups, it's safe to say that neither team is taking a game with such huge conference implications lightly.
“When the whistle is blown, when the lights cut on, when the clock starts, it ain’t no friends out there," UNC senior linebacker Cedric Gray said. "We both trying to win. We are both trying to go out there and beat the heck out of each other.”
Here are the X’s and O’s on the Blue Devils.
Duke's offense: inexperienced quarterback, run heavy
Duke quarterback Riley Leonard won't be making the start against the Tar Heels, as it was announced before the Blue Devils' recent game against Wake Forest that he would miss an extended period of time after suffering a toe injury in a loss to Louisville.
In the absence of Leonard, first-year Grayson Loftis will be taking the field against the Tar Heels. North Carolina will look to capitalize on the inexperience of the young signal caller and disrupt Duke's offensive scheme.
“We got to stop the run, and we gotta get after the quarterback,” Gray said. “It doesn't matter who we play. So I think it will be important that when the opportunity presents itself, we have to have our best moves and we're ready to get after him on the outside.”
Duke head coach Mike Elko runs a mesh offense that focuses on the run game and short passes. A substantial part of Duke’s successful ground attack is senior left tackle Graham Barton, who has played in 37 career games and is masterful at protecting the blindside.