Thoughts On The Duke Loss And Looking Ahead To Boston College

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

After being quiet for a week and half, I am back to share some thoughts about the loss to Duke before looking ahead to the game against the Eagles in Chestnut Hill this weekend.

Perhaps it was curious to some of those who follows me on Twitter when I sent this out Friday:

It will be tough for me to rationalize it, but here goes nothing. The past three games against Duke have always been tough. As I have often tweeted, Duke has always given the Hokies fits. In Logan Thomas' first year as the starter, the Hokies were fortunate to leave Durham with a win after Duke missed four field goal attempts, and the defense came to save the day again. Last fall, the Hokies spotted the Devils 20 points before the epic comeback, which was the largest comeback from a point total under Beamer. Finally, Duke played the University of Virginia the weekend before last, and won. They won after they spotted the Cavaliers 22 points, before reeling off 35 points for the win. I don't care if it was UVA, scoring 35 unanswered points is tough no matter who you're playing, and they were flying high.

Of course, for you superstitious lot, the Hokies wore all orange everything except for the maroon helmet, and the last time they were this uniform combo...they lost...to UVA! I will take a moment to say thank you to Beamer for saying on Tech Talk Live that he is never going to have the team wear this combo ever again. Sidebar: didn't we hear this once before?

Anyway, the other mitigating factor in the loss to Duke was the fact the Hokies were coming off a bye week, and historically (recently that is), the team does not fare well in the first game off a bye. For the second year in a row, they fell flat on their face, at home, no less. Even on a day when Kendall Fuller had a career day, snaring three interceptions, they still lost.

To ask the Hokies' offense to overcome Logan Thomas' career-high four interceptions is a tough, almost impossible obstacle to overcome. Perhaps the biggest blunder for Thomas was the red zone interception, something that bothered Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Scot Loeffler:

In hindsight, I believe the offense did not recover from one of the biggest transgressions committed by fifth-year veteran, D.J. Coles. If you will recall, Coles had a touchdown wiped out because of his illegal motion penalty. It was a simple matter of setting his feet prior to the snap, but for whatever reason, being over-excited or forgot the snap count, Coles moved before the ball was snapped. It was unfortunate because it was a potential momentum shift that went Duke's way.

However, even in the most critical moment of the game, the Hokies' defense let the team down on Duke's fourth down.  Bud Foster had called the right play and it was just a complete breakdown by the personnel on the field. It was unfortunate because if Jarrett or Tyler had wrapped up the quarterback, then it would have been a turnover on downs, and given the Hokies the ball back with favorable field position.

Once again, Cody Journell let the team down with two missed field goal attempts. At this point, it is not a matter of his mechanics, but it's mental.

It is a loss that was more of a gut-punch, but we need to tip our hat to Dave Cutcliffe, who is a classy coach and highly complimentary of Frank Beamer, and has done a masterful job since arriving to Duke. He was also due for a major signature win, even if it came at our expense.

If there's a sliver lining in all of this, it is that the Hokies are still very much in contention for the Coastal crown, but the road has gotten tougher. Chestnut Hill has been a tough place for the Hokies to get a win over the years. If you haven't read it, visit Chicagomaroon's Game Guide about the history of games played there.

The players have talked all week about refocusing their attention to the Eagles, and they sound very eager to play. The biggest thing for the Hokies to be successful is to stop the Eagles' run game, which is always Bud Foster's goal for every opponent, for Logan Thomas to forget about his performance and just trust the play-call and let the ball fly. The offense as whole needs to build on their failures by learning from them, correcting their mistakes (lining up and remembering to set their feet for example), and just playing ball.

Boston College is a team that has scared plenty of teams this fall, and they will be eager for a fight. As I once said before the game against Alabama, it is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog, and once again, the Hokies need to rediscover the size of the fight in themselves.

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