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2010 Virginia Tech Football: What to Watch vs. Duke

No. 24 Virginia Tech Hokies (5-2, 3-0) vs. Duke Blue Devils (1-5, 0-3)

The Team

  • Losing this game would actually be worse than the loss to JMU. There's no short rest or previous heartbreaker to blame for coming out flat. There's no shortage of game film on what Duke does. The Hokies should dominate and for Duke to win would take a total and complete collapse greater than anything previously seen by Tech.
  • The offense broke out against a bad defense last week and gets its shot at another bad defense this week. Let's light up the scoreboard and into the bye week on a roll.

Virginia Tech Offense vs. Duke Defense

  • The key for the Hokies is not to go through the motions like Miami did last week.
  • In the passing game, Tech should be able to have success over the middle like they did against BC and Wake Forest. Teams have been able to take advantage of soft coverage from Duke with slants over the middle.
  • The Hokies should also test Duke deep early and often. Duke gives up 8.5 yards per pass attempt, worse than any team from an AQ conference other than Minnesota.
  • Duke sold out to stop the running game against the Hokies the last two years and I expect they'll do it again. Tech still needs to try and run the ball to wear out the Blue Devil defense. They were able to do this last season and started to get yards on the ground in the second half.
  • Duke's defense has improved recently in its fundamentals. The Blue Devils aren't missing as many tackles as they did early in the year, but will still give up the occasional big play. That hurt them against Maryland, when punt return TD and 71-yard pass took away their chances of winning in College Park.
  • I'm interested to see how Ryan Williams looks after missing the last four and a half games with an injured hamstring. He's expected to see about two series worth of action, which I think should include about five carries. Will he run with confidence or will he be tentative with his hammy? With he ease back into the offense and the way it's been clicking or will he struggle finding holes like he did early this year?

Virginia Tech Defense vs. Duke Defense

  • We'll see two QBs for Duke Saturday, Sean Renfree and Brandon Connette. Renfree is the better passer and Connette the better zone-read option QB.
  • Connette has been used primarily in short-yardage and red zone situations. He eventually relieved Renfree late against Miami and completed four passes, which tripled his season output. He hasn't thrown for a touchdown yet this season, but came close against Miami when he over threw his open tight end on play action on the Blue Devils' first drive.
  • The Blue Devils operate primarily out of the shotgun, but has started to show a lot out of the pistol, with Desmond Scott getting many of the early carries. Scott was fairly effective out of the pistol against the Hurricanes and has been the best overall running back for Duke.
  • Renfree is an accurate quarterback and has good pocket presence but can still be forced into bad decisions. He impressed me with his pocket presence, especially early in the season against Wake Forest. He's still prone to mistakes and is going through some growing pains, but he can still move the ball.
  • The Hokies need to get pressure on Renfree to force those mistakes, which the Hokies may be able to do. The Blue Devils have allowed 11 sacks this year, seven in the last two games.
  • I'd like to see backer Lyndell Gibson bounce back well after struggling against Wake Forest.

Watch the Box Score

  • Turnovers
  • Virginia Tech YPA
  • Virginia Tech Sacks
  • Duke Completion Pct

Virginia Tech Players to Watch

  • 34 - Ryan Williams, So., RB
  • 81 - Jarrett Boykin, Jr., WR
  • 82 - Steven Friday, Sr., DE
  • 44 - Lyndell Gibson, So., LB

Duke Players to Watch

  • 19 - Sean Renfree, So., QB
  • 2 - Conner Vernon, So., WR
  • 40 - Matt Daniels, Jr., S
  • 90 - Patrick Egboh, Sr., DE

Final Score

Virginia Tech 49, Duke 9