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Preview: The Virginia Tech Hokies vs. The Duke Blue Devils

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Saturday, the Hokies show up to play football in Durham, NC at Wallace Wade Stadium. Duke has always given us fits, even though we have won the vast majority of the contests of the ACC era. The dominance ended three seasons ago with a brutal 10-13 slug fest. The David Cutcliffe coached Blue Devils aren't the same team this season, though. It is still a potential trap that the Hokies could fall into. #OneGameOneTeamRightNow

OT Battle for the ages Bucky wins one, but we lost.  Time to return the favor.
OT Battle for the ages Bucky wins one, but we lost. Time to return the favor.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend, the Hokies make the trip to Durham, North Carolina where they'll be hosted at Wallace Wade Stadium by the Blue Devils of Duke University.  Since this isn't basketball the outcome of the game has a very good chance of being a nicely positive outcome for the Fighting Gobblers.  Well, we have to be careful though.  Duke is coached by David Cutcliffe, and has a good array of talent.

That being said, the truth is that Duke is struggling this season.  As good as they were for the prior two, this year they just don't seem to have jelled well enough to keep some close games on the W side of the ledger.  Duke is the 118th in total offense, while Tech is 56th.  That's 402 yards per game to 450.  Funny how that small difference in total yardage makes such a great difference in ranking (along with the W's and L's).  It almost doesn't seem fair, and frankly could get us in trouble because Duke looks a whole lot like Syracuse at about the same schedule point.

Duke ACC Game Grid from Hokie Sports:

Season

Date

Site

Score (VT-Opp)

Rank

2015

Sat., Oct 24, 2015

Blacksburg, Va. * 1

L, 43-45 (4 OT)

NR/23

2014

Sat., Nov 15, 2014

Durham, N.C. *

W, 17-16

NR/19

2013

Sat., Oct 26, 2013

Blacksburg, Va. * 2

L, 10-13

16/NR

2012

Sat., Oct 13, 2012

Blacksburg, Va. * 3

W, 41-20

NR/NR

2011

Sat., Oct 29, 2011

Durham, N.C. *

W, 14-10

15/NR

2010

Sat., Oct 23, 2010

Blacksburg, Va. * 4

W, 44-7

23/NR

2009

Sat., Oct 3, 2009

Durham, N.C. *

W, 34-26

6/NR

2008

Sat., Nov 22, 2008

Blacksburg, Va. * 5

W, 14-3

NR/NR

2007

Sat., Oct 13, 2007

Durham, N.C. *

W, 43-14

12/NR

2006

Sat., Sep 16, 2006

Blacksburg, Va. *

W, 36-0

14/NR

2005

Sat., Sep 10, 2005

Durham, N.C. *

W, 45-0

7/NR

2004

Sat., Sep 18, 2004

Blacksburg, Va. *

W, 41-17

NR/NR

Take a careful look at the first three lines of the grid and you will note something very important for us to remember before Saturday and during the game.  The Cutcliffe era has had Duke ranked in the top 25 twice.  They beat us at home twice, once as a ranked team, and once that knocked us out of the top 25 poll with a trap game where we should have performed much better, but couldn't generate any offense to speak of.  Where have we heard that saw, before?  We should have dominated that game and we ended up struggling.

The 2014 contest was a measure of revenge, but it only really served to torpedo the Blue Devil ranking level for that week.    The most painful loss was the quadruple overtime from last year, when we just couldn't seal the deal or stop a runny nose with a tissue.

Duke's offense this season isn't as good, and its recent past iterations, but it is capable of moving the ball and certainly they have challenged their opponents this season.  Check Yahoo Sports for the full Stats page on the Blue Devils.

Duke Quarterback Play:

Comp

Att

PCT

Yds

Avg

Yd/G

TD

INT

Sacks

QBR

Daniel Jones

168

269

62.5

1889

7.0

236.1

11

9

16

128.2

Daniel Jones is a running quarterback, but calling him a true dual threat might be a bit premature in his career at Duke.  We know what a running quarterback means to the Hokie defense.   The #LPD is getting better at containing a mobile QB; but the success is often inconsistent and prone to breaking down on critical third down conversion attempts.  While Jones is not a break away for huge gashes of yards, he does score touchdowns (3) from the QB position, on the ground.  There is one important stat to look at, however and that's the two sacks per game average that his offensive line has put up.  This mixed with his 3.4 yard average per carry says that he spends a good deal of time scrambling and not a lot on purposeful runs.  The Hokie Defense, if healthy and playing "up" might just have a good game against the Duke passing game.

Top Duke Runners for the first eight games:

Att

Yds

Yds/G

Yds/C

TD

Jela Duncan

88

450

64.3

5.1

6

Shaun Wilson

90

373

46.6

4.1

2

Daniel Jones

82

276

34.5

3.4

3

Joseph Ajeigbe

26

73

10.4

2.8

1

Duke's running game is not overwhelming.  The top four ground gainers account for most of their yardage, with Jela Duncan and Shaun Wilson being anywhere close to regular "schedule" of 4 yards for their average runs.  They can run the ball, but it's going to be very obvious who is running, and the Defense has a good chance to close the door on that part of the game.

The Duke Receiving Corps:

Rec

Yds

Yds/G

Avg

Long

TD

T.J. Rahming

42

409

51.1

9.7

51

1

Anthony Nash

29

398

66.3

13.7

64

2

Johnathan Lloyd

23

232

29.0

10.1

55

2

Erich Schneider

18

176

25.1

9.8

26

3

Duke's passing game is not heavily concentrated at any one receiver spot, but look for Erich Schneider, who seems to be the Blue Devil version of Sam Rogers, to be a critical player when he's in the lineup.  He's the leading touchdown receiver.  Duke doesn't pass the ball for points, much, and our top three receivers (Ford - 648, Phillips - 514, and Hodges - 468) have all passed their top pass catcher.  Schneider has 19 more yards than Sam, but Sam's got the same 18 points receiving, and a TD pass to his credit.

The spreads are currently out, and Tech is laying 11 to Duke, which is an ominous number in my book.  It's ominous because, both traditionally and this season, Tech has not responded well to being considered the blowout/near-blowout favorite.  Eleven points is pushing the blow out envelope.

This means that Coach Fuente and staff are going to have to work to focus the team this week, and get them in to Durham with a Lunch Pail attitude.

The Duke Blue Devils 2016 has all the makings of a trap game, and the Hokies need to avoid the "cruise it on in" mentality.  Duke has always been a tough opponent.  They have always played us hard, and given us fits even when we dominated the match up.  We no longer dominate them, and need to be aware of that.

One Game.  One Team.  Right Now!

GO HOKIES!!!