Saturday evening, why it’s in the evening is still completely beyond my comprehension because it’s going to be cold and rainy, the Blue Devils of Duke University come to visit Lane Stadium and try to do more to rain on Tech’s parade than mother nature is likely to dish out. The wise guys are giving Duke 16.5 points and several of my friends were of the opinion that figure might not be enough. I however am not so sure. Duke has non-traditionally been a bit of pain in the rear end. For the most part, since we began regularly meeting to play for positioning in the Coastal Division of the ACC, Duke has been a more or less counted on victory for the Hokies. Then David Cutcliffe took over the Blue Devils late in 2007, and Duke’s fortunes started to change. It took a few seasons to figure it out, but the last six seasons have proven that the Blue Devils aren’t going to roll over for the Hokies anymore.
The far history of Duke vs Virginia Tech is interesting, though. Just like it was with UNC the schools just really didn’t play all that much for the first 100 years of the schools’ football presence. There was a brief period of total VPI failure between 1937 and 1951 – but that amounted to six total games. Tech leads the series 15 games to 9, but 9-6 is 3, so since 1981, Tech has really dominated the contests.
Duke finally broke through the barrier with a tight and embarrassing 10-13 win in the 2013 season. It was more than embarrassing because of the torpid Tech offensive effort, but was also a home game for the Hokies. The net effect is that the aura of Tech invincibility at home was seriously damaged. Tech pulled off a one point miracle in 2014, but then lost a four overtime period fight 43-45 in 2015. That game seemed to exemplify the 2015 season more than any other. The Hokies might never wear that cool black uni, again, but more than that it was just a disappointing way to end Frank Beamer’s famous Home Field Advantage.
The grid from Hokie Sports is interesting if a little brief for the period of time covered.
The History of the Hokies vs. The Blue Devils
|2015||10/24/2015||Blacksburg||L, 43-45 (4 OT)||NR/23|
|1984||10/13/1984||Blacksburg, Va.||W, 27-0||NR/NR|
|1983||10/8/1983||Blacksburg, Va.||W, 27-14||NR/NR|
|1982||10/9/1982||Durham, N.C.||W, 22-21||NR/NR|
|1981||10/10/1981||Durham, N.C.||L, 7-14||NR/NR|
|1969||11/15/1969||Norfolk, Va.||W, 48-12||NR/NR|
This season, Duke seems to have run into a serious dry spell. They started out of the gate with blue flames and pitchforks, bolting to a 4-0 record. They defeated, North Carolina Central for their opening cupcake. They followed that one up with convincing non-conference FBS wins against Northwestern and Baylor, and then put away North Carolina with relative ease. Since then, though, it’s been four straight losses. Miami, Virginia, Florida State, and Pitt have all dropped a big ‘L’ on Dukes 2016 Resume.
According to Yahoo Sports the Blue Devils are 138th in Passing Offense, 104th, in rushing yards, and 128th for yards per game. Their starting quarterback, Junior Daniel Jones is playing his second full season, and has managed 1,670 yards of passing with a completion rate of just over 54%. He’s also thrown 6 picks, and managed only 5.8 yards per pass with 8 touchdowns. Something tells me that those numbers are not evenly spread across the games this season. What is critical in this equation is that Jones can run. That always concerns Hokie Nation, because with 79 rushes over 8 games, Jones has 3 TD’s and 217 yards total. That is just not trivial. Actually, in a game where the weather is likely to be a factor and the Hokies have to cure their problems covering a marginal passer who can run. Foster still plays them incorrectly, and Tech still pays for his reticence to put a hat on a hat, and force a marginal passer to throw instead of run.
Duke has two good quality running backs; Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown. They account for 548 and 497 yards rushing respectively, and those numbers will again figure in to the mix. The potential rain and cold make the ball hard to hold and the field difficult and choppy. Dukes passing game seems to spread the opportunity around so their three leading receivers; T.J. Rahming, Johnathan Lloyd, and Chris Taylor get the bulk of the catches, but Rahming has caught 44 for 567 yards. That’s nearly double Lloyd’s total. Other than that, though, the offense does tend to spread the ball around to quite a few receivers and running backs.
The truth is that Duke is struggling, right now, and they’d absolutely love to turn their season around and scrap their way into bowl contention by returning last year’s favor of a close loss. David Cutcliffe knows what he’s up against; but he also knows – and won’t say that he does – the weaknesses that will make this a much more challenging game than the wise guys think.
The game is really Virginia Tech’s to lose. At this point, Duke almost got off the mat, but a four game losing streak is really hard to shake off. Of course the last five years have shown that Duke is perfectly capable of doing just that. Shaking off the last four games and refocusing their efforts on offense. They do have an issue with their run defense, that makes me hope to see more off tackle and zone action from the likes of Travon McMillian and Coleman Fox. I sure would like to see some power from Steven Peoples, but whether or not he’s completely ready to play will be determined if his number is called off the sideline.
Virginia Tech wins in a close one if we start slow on offense and struggle to cover the Duke QB on defense. I am hoping the weather isn’t horrid, but given the history of the Hokies being “Mudders” that might not be a bad thing. This might very well be a ball control and field position game. Kicking in the wet and cold is always difficult. The ball is heavier and it feels harder. Tech will have to duplicate its effort from last week. The Defensive Line must get penetration and must hit the quarterback as often as possible. The Duke running game isn’t going to set the world on fire and neither is the passing game.
What could set Tech’s house on fire, is a “Syracuse” effort against an “easy” opponent. Let’s not look ahead to the next game.. I won’t mention the opponent. The Hokies can win this and get more snaps in for the 2nd and 3rd teams.
Remember let’s go 1-0 against Duke.
How does Virginia Tech do on Saturday Evening?
This poll is closed
The Tech Defense leads the way again and we beat the spread
The weather slows the game down. Tech wins a close one.
Duke knows home field may not be a factor. Duke gets us in a close one.
Tech ignores the weather. Grinds clock and yards; not a run away but convincing.