UNC-Duke grades: Blue Devils’ running game helps fuel upset win

UNC's defense struggles to get Duke off the field in second half of loss.

| 7 months ago
(Streeter Lacka, Getty Images)

(Streeter Lacka, Getty Images)

UNC-Duke grades: Blue Devils’ running game helps fuel upset win

Duke Blue Devils 28, North Carolina Tar Heels 27

Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from Duke’s upset victory over archrival North Carolina in Week 11:

Duke Blue Devils

Quarterback grade: Daniel Jones, 72.9

Jones was aggressive with his downfield throws, but was rarely on target. On nine attempts at least 20 yards downfield, he completed just two for 64 yards. He completed 17 of his remaining 22 aimed passes, but with all but three of those attempts under 10 yards, he struggled to advance the ball on chunk plays. While he wasn’t extremely effective through the air, he gave the Tar Heels fits with his feet. Excluding garbage time, where a kneel-down and a time-killing loss resulted in -10 yards to his total, he racked up 118 yards on 15 carries and scored twice.


Top offensive grades:

WR T.J. Rahming, 82.3

OG Tanner Stone, 75.4

OT Gabe Brandner, 75.2

QB Daniel Jones, 72.9

OT Casey Blaser, 72.4

Offensive line makes big statement with dominant performance 

The offensive line had an outstanding day in pass protection, as the unit yielded just five total pressures. OG Tanner Stone led the way, as his 83.0 pass-blocking grade was the high mark for the game. The effective ground game allowed Duke to control the clock and move the ball effectively, as the Blue Devils rushed the ball 53 times at an impressive 5.2 yards per touch.

Top defensive grades:

LB Joe Giles-Harris, 83.4

CB Alonzo Saxton II, 79.5

ED Dominic McDonald, 76.8

ED Terrell Lucas, 68.3

S Deondre Singleton, 64.6

Giles-Harris leads Duke to victory

Linebacker Joe Giles-Harris was the best player on the field for the Blue Devils, as he racked up an impressive nine total stops and 12 solo tackles. He was also effective in coverage, as he gave up just one catch on four primary targets, a screen pass that went for just four yards. While his strong all-around play carried the day, Duke got away with a very poor tackling performance, as the defense missed 17 on the day.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Quarterback grade: Mitch Trubisky, 78.4

Trubisky started out hot but cooled as the game progressed, and was certainly not aided by his defense’s inability to get off the field; the offense ran just 10 offensive plays in the fourth quarter, the final being an interception off a bad coverage read by Trubisky. He had the bulk of his success on intermediate throws, as he completed seven of 10 throws between 10 and 19 yards from the line of scrimmage for 143 yards and two scores.

Top offensive grades:

OT Bentley Spain, 79.2

QB Mitch Trubisky, 78.4

C Lucas Crowley, 76.4

OT Jon Heck, 74.2

RB Elijah Hood, 70.5 

Poor guard play stalls out the offense

While the rest of the line graded well, guards R.J. Prince and Tommy Hatton had significant struggles on both run and pass blocks. They combined to give up six of the line’s eight total pressures, and both had overall grades under 40.0. RB Elijah Hood had just 13 carries, but made the most of them by racking up 74 yards and forcing five missed tackles.

Top defensive grades:  

LB Cole Holcomb, 85.8

CB Des Lawrence, 79.8

S Donnie Miles, 77.8

S Dominique Green, 77.5

CB M.J. Stewart, 74.3

Secondary plays well enough to win, but run defenders do not

LB Cole Holcomb had a very strong game, as he racked up eight solo tackles and three total stops to go with a pass breakup and just two yards allowed on one reception against. As a whole, the back seven gave up a touchdown off a goal line jump pass, but otherwise broke up five Blue Devils throws. The defense failed to consistently get home on the pass rush, however, as two of the unit’s four sacks were garbage-time plays that were designed to waste time, and a third was a clean-up due to tight coverage.


| Analyst

Josh joined PFF as an analyst in 2015. During the season, his primary focus is college football (mainly the Big Ten). He is also heavily involved in PFF's NFL draft coverage. Prior to joining the team, he worked for six years with GM Jr. Scouting, an independent draft scouting service.

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