Drake Maye, No. 24 North Carolina dial up to take down Duke
League: NCAA Football
Posted on: 08 Nov, 2023 at 06:14 PM
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
No. 24 North Carolina has one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the country. Duke appears in a different situation entering the annual Atlantic Coast Conference date with its neighbor.
The teams meet in the Tar Heels' home finale Saturday night when the Blue Devils try to get back to their winning ways in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The winner of the game will stay in the mix for a spot in the ACC championship game. This is the third-to-last game of the regular season.
North Carolina (7-2, 3-2 ACC) has lost its last two conference games, while Duke (6-3, 3-2) snapped a two-game slide by topping Wake Forest last week.
This might be the final home game for Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye, who's expected to enter the 2024 NFL Draft.
Coach Mack Brown said Maye will have the option to go through Senior Day activities.
"It's not my place to tell him to," Brown said. "He's very emotional, and he just wants to win. And you all have seen him, he's so humble that he doesn't want attention brought to himself. I think it would be cool for him to walk out there, for everybody to say thank you."
On Tuesday, Maye said he wouldn't participate in those ceremonies to avoid being a distraction to the senior football players.
Three different starting quarterbacks have directed Duke victories this season. Most recently, that was freshman Grayson Loftis against the Demon Deacons.
So unless Riley Leonard and Henry Belin IV unexpectedly return from injuries, Loftis will make his second career start -- and his first on the road.
"It's trying to find the things that you know he's going to be able to go out there and execute," Duke coach Mike Elko said. "You just don't want to expose him in really awkward, difficult situations and force him to try to make plays or challenge him to make plays that are difficult. That's what you're trying to do as a play caller."
Duke's defense rates tops in the ACC in some categories, while North Carolina's offense is a high-powered unit.
"They're certainly dangerous and they certainly can hurt us, but we also have a lot of confidence in who we are," Elko said.
Brown is in his second stint as North Carolina's coach. He has been in charge in 12 consecutive North Carolina victories in the series, last falling to the Blue Devils in 1989.
"And two of our games (recently with Duke) have come down to the last play of the game," Brown said. "So this is a great game, a great rivalry. So along with Senior Day, homecoming, a packed house, night game, it should be a tremendous setting for this weekend."
Last year, the Tar Heels scored the winning points on Maye's 8-yard touchdown pass to Antoine Green with 16 seconds remaining. The teams combined for 1,078 yards of total offense in last year's meeting, which had seven lead changes.
Duke and North Carolina have competed for the Victory Bell in football since 1948.
"Everybody knows what this game means and what this game is about around here," Elko said. "It's an opportunity for our seniors to go and compete and try to get the bell and bring the bell back here to Durham and so that's not something that we take lightly. We understand how important that is to our fans, our alumni, and all the people associated with Duke football."
--Field Level Media