Duke is looking to earn its first road victory over a ranked team since 1971. That was when the Blue Devils won, 9-3, at Stanford in a Rose Bowl season. Saturday will mark Duke's first return to Stanford Stadium since that game.
"Defensively, they're going to be aggressive," said Stanford coach David Shaw. "They have some long, rangy guys on the defensive side, and they try to make it as difficult on you as possible, based on their alignments."
Fullback Ryan Hewitt, a key member in Stanford's offense, sat out the season opener with an ankle injury and is questionable against Duke.
"I'm leaning toward not playing him," Shaw said, "he's leaning toward playing."
Freshman running back Barry J. Sanders, the son of the Detroit Lions' Hall of Famer, did not play against San Jose State and is "most likely" going to redshirt this season, Shaw said.
The revelation of the season opener was senior nickelback Usua Amanam, a convert to the position after playing running back his first two years at Stanford. Amanam, who starred at San Jose's Bellarmine Prep, had six tackles, and two sacks among his four tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery.
An energy resource engineering major, Amanam aspires to be a reservoir engineer, involved in exploring and drilling.
Named after his father, who works in the oil industry in Nigeria, "Usua" — pronounced OOO-sue-ah — means "one who despises evil things. "Amanam" means "job well done."
Asked to pinpoint Stanford's struggles against San Jose State in a game the Cardinal was expected to win handily, Shaw said the answer wasn't so simple.
"It's hard to point and say, There's the problem," Shaw said. "It was the combination of a lot of little tiny things that makes you feel, just `blah.' Outside the first two drives, it was just `blah.'"
However, "A month from now, people are going to be saying Stanford beat a pretty good San Jose State team," Shaw said.
After Stanford bolted to a 14-0 lead by scoring touchdowns on its first two drives, the Cardinal played lackluster offensively thereafter, allowing San Jose State to tie the game, 17-17, in the third quarter. Shaw's praise went to his defense, which shut down the Spartans in the fourth quarter and clinched the game on Ed Reynolds' late interception, his first ever. Reynolds missed last year with an injury after appearing in five games as a freshman.
"Our defense played extremely well in the fourth quarter," Shaw said. "Our defense played their hearts out. They needed to make plays and they got stops. The defense kept us in the game."