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x-factor: jordan moore and duke football's passing attack key against a talented pittsburgh secondary

junior wide receiver jordan moore had 117 receiving yards against virginia.
junior wide receiver jordan moore had 117 receiving yards against virginia.

after suffering a tough loss to virginia, duke football looks to bounce back against a depleted pittsburgh team. let’s look at a critical player from both sides: 

duke: jordan moore 

for the blue devils, junior wide receiver jordan moore seemed to provide a spark in the offense saturday. in a losing effort, moore played an important role in helping duke to a near-comeback win, posting a season-high nine receptions for 117 yards. over the past two games, moore has been on an absolute tear, posting a combined total of 15 receptions for 205 yards and three touchdowns. this shouldn’t come as a surprise given that moore has also led the team in total reception yards and touchdowns for the entire season.  

moore will need to keep up his stellar performance against m.j. devonshire, pittsburgh’s star cornerback. the panther defense has allowed an average of 208.1 passing yards per game and devonshire is tied for the most interceptions on the team. with the increased confidence of freshman quarterback grayson loftis leading to a prevalent air attack from the blue devil offense, moore continues to play a more and more critical role.  

while duke’s defense will be a crucial part of this game, consistent offensive success throughout the entire game will be just as important and it is moore’s matchup against devonshire that will be the key. if moore can continue his impressive performance against a formidable cornerback in devonshire, and if loftis continues to gain confidence in throwing the ball, then the blue devils should be positioned to be successful. if devonshire and the rest of pittsburgh’s defense can shut down duke’s improved passing game, then the blue devils will become very one dimensional on offense, giving the advantage to the panthers.  

pittsburgh: rodney hammond jr.  

the 3-8 panthers have been in a bit of a slump this season, but hammond has started to become more and more important within the offense. while the junior running back had a very slow start to the season, he has started to become increasingly involved in the offense. this past week in pittsburgh’s win against boston college, hammond posted a season-high 15 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown in a simply unstoppable performance. because of the panthers’ quarterback carousel over this season, the offense has become increasingly run-heavy, with hammond getting most of the work. 

in the matchup against duke, the norfolk, va., native could be positioned to have another monster game against a blue devil defense that gave up 170 yards of rushing against a struggling virginia offense. if duke continues to have defensive struggles on the ground and if hammond has a performance like last week, pittsburgh could be well positioned for an upset. however, if the blue devil defense can get back to where it was earlier in the season and stifle the running game, it will be able to shut down a critical part of the panther offense and will be set up to get back on track.  

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