1. This was a less shocking, but more rewarding victory than the Hokies win over Ohio State:
A victory over a 21st ranked Duke team will never carry the weight nationally that Virginia Tech's win over Ohio State did, but in Blacksburg the victory is just as significant. The young Hokies squad needed this one. Frank Beamer and his staff needed this one. And yes, Hokie Nation needed this one. The victory provided a positive in a season that has spiraled out of control following a 2-0 start.
Virginia Tech didn't set any records, or blow up the box score, but they played a defensive game, sparse on mental mistakes for the first time in a long time.The win won't erase the sting of the team's five losses, but it is a meaningful win, and a look at what the team has to offer when they play on the same page.
2. The Hokies bowl appearance and .500 or better streak should remain intact:
Following a dismal month of October for Virginia Tech many people, myself included, predicted the Hokies could miss a bowl and finish under .500 for the first time since 1992. It appears the obituary on those streaks may have been written prematurely. Frank Beamer lead teams have often been at their best with their backs to the wall in November, and that trend continued in Durham on Saturday.
Virginia Tech will close the season against Wake Forest (2-8) and Virginia (4-6), both winnable games if Saturday's squad shows up. Some would argue that narrowly keeping the streaks alive doesn't extinguish the disappointment of this season. While that thought may hold water, a winning season and bowl appearance is still something for the Hokies to hang their hat on.
3. The defense finally stepped up:
After spending much of 2014 being picked apart by the oppositions biggest offensive weapon, the Hokies defense finally clamped down against Duke. The Blue Devils don't feature any Heisman caliber players on offense, but they usually play a steady, mistake free brand of football that wears opponents down. However, Bud Foster's group was able to limit the Blue Devils on both fronts Saturday.
The Blue Devils followed a script written by many offensive coordinators this season and leaned heavily on their quarterback Anthony Boone, specifically on the ground. Boone lead Duke in rushing attempts with 14, but only managed 34 yards on the ground. Boone didn't find success any easier through the air, completed only 18 of his 40 passing attempts, with two interceptions.
Along with those interceptions, Virginia Tech also forced a fumble for three total turnovers against a team that is known for protecting the ball on offense. Limiting an oppositions quarterback on the ground, and winning the turnover battle are major victories for a Hokies defense that has been beyond porous this season.
4. Bucky Hodges could finish as the best tight end in school history:
Head coach Frank Beamer and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler have been rightfully criticized for the teams struggles this season. One decision they made that has been flawless was moving freshman Bucky Hodges to tight end from his native quarterback position. Originally envisioned as a short yardage threat, Hodges has emerged as the team's most reliable target.
Hodges carried the Hokies offense against Duke, scoring the game winning touchdown, and leading the team in three offensive statistics. His six receptions, 57 receiving yards and long catch of 26 yards were all bench marks for Virginia Tech on Saturday.
The 6'6", 250 pound tight end was believed to be a raw talent with endless possibilities. And while he isn't a finish product, Hodges is surpassing his expectations by leaps and bounds. By the time his time at Virginia Tech is over, Hodges could be the best tight end to ever come through Blacksburg. He looks like a future Mackey award winner, and early draft pick for an NFL team looking for the next Jimmy Graham.
Official word that #Hokies RB Marshawn Williams has 'sprained' left knee, but our sources say it's a torn ACL. Either way out rest of season— HokieHaven.com (@Hokie_Haven) November 15, 2014
5. Virginia Tech doesn't have a viable running back
A Virginia Tech depth chart that boasted six running backs in the pre season has now been reduced to spare parts. Freshman Marshawn Williams left Saturday's game early with a leg injury, and likely will join Shai McKenzie and Trey Edmunds on the shelf for the remainder of 2014.
The Hokies will now depend on J.C. Coleman and fullback Sam Rodgers to carry the rushing load in the final two games, hardly what the team envisioned in the spring. Coleman was capable against a less than stellar Duke run defense, rushing for 95 yards on 20 attempts. However, Coleman is not going to set the world on fire in the backfield, even if he had an effective offensive line in front of him (which he doesn't).