No. 4 FSU football will take on the No. 17 Duke Blue Devils on Saturday night in primetime. It’s a huge ACC matchup with an even larger question mark going into the game. Will Duke’s starting quarterback, Riley Leonard, be available to play in the game?
Leonard badly injured his ankle a couple of weeks ago at the end of Duke’s game against Notre Dame. It was their only loss this season.
Duke had a bye-week after that loss, and Leonard sat out last week’s game against NC State.
Below is footage of Leonard walking on the field during warm-ups before the NC State game:
Leonard is visibly limping in the video and I find it very difficult to believe he’ll be healthy enough to play and be effective against a team like FSU. Duke’s leading running back averages 10 carries per game, and Leonard averaged nine.
His legs are a big part of his game, and if he can’t do that it’ll handicap the Duke offense even more. A guy who can’t move is a sitting duck for an FSU defense that’s among the best in the ACC.
Also, the probability of Leonard escaping the game without injuring the ankle further is low. Duke’s loss against Notre Dame doesn’t count as an ACC loss, which means they are still in a prime position to make the ACC championship game if they lose to FSU and win the rest of their games. They have two big games after FSU, and one of them is Louisville next week.
Duke plays Wake Forest after that and then North Carolina the week after. I think the smart approach would be to allow Leonard to sit the FSU game to get as healthy as possible for the Louisville game since they’re already sizable betting underdogs on the road.
I had the same injury in college and tried to come back too fast, and it cost me more time. FSU football fans were sad Leonard got hurt and would prefer he be able to play to avoid the excuses they’ll hear from folks about Duke not having their starting QB available if they win the game.
Duke head coach Mike Elko said there’s a “good chance” Leonard will play against FSU this weekend. However, I think that’s coach speak to force FSU to continue preparing for two quarterbacks.
I suppose we’ll see Saturday night, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Leonard tried to give it a go in warm-ups, and they felt it was best to hold him out one more week.