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Virginia Tech football: 5 takeaways from Hokies’ win over Duke

Bud Foster’s defense with another masterpiece

NCAA Football: Duke at Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson after a touchdown run
Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies moved to 7-1 on the season with a convincing 24-3 win over the Duke Blue Devils on a rainy night in Blacksburg. The win moves the Hokies to 3-1 in the ACC with a huge Saturday night tilt at Miami looming this weekend.

The Hokies did what they had to do on Saturday night on both sides of the ball and Bud Foster’s side of the ball controlled the game for freshman quarterback Josh Jackson.

Now that we’ve had a couple of days to look back, here are five takeaways from another impressive Virginia Tech win.

Deshawn McClease impressive in win

Throughout the season, a different Virginia Tech runner leads the team in rushing that particular week. Sometimes, it’s Jackson, other times it’s Travon McMillian or Steven Peoples. On Saturday, it was sophomore Deshawn McClease who led the Hokies in rushing. McClease carried the ball 15 times for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Sure, head coach Justin Fuente would love to see one back take over the position and not look back. However, it’s an asset to have to multiple backs you can count on. McMillian, McClease, Peoples and Coleman Fox all have their strengths.

For a smaller back, McClease runs with impressive power and may possess the best vision of any back on Tech’s roster. I’d like to see Fuente feature him more moving forward.

Sean Savoy is a playmaker

Every week, freshman receiver Sean Savoy continues to get better. The Hokies were struggling to put some distance between themselves and the Blue Devils and just before halftime, Savoy goes up and snags a Jackson pass and falls into the end zone to give Tech a 17-3 lead. It was a huge play when the Hokies really needed something big on offense.

It speaks volumes of the trust level between Jackson and Savoy. He put the ball out there trusting his receiver to come down with it. Savoy did just that.

Fuente also continues to give Savoy handoffs on some of the jet-sweep plays and it’s usually always effective. It’s easy to see Savoy becoming the go-to guy next season.

It’s time to involve the tight ends more

Believe it or not, Virginia Tech is in good shape at tight end. Against Duke, tight ends Chris Cunningham and Dalton Keene made big plays. Cunningham looked like a receiver in the first half, taking a Jackson pass and going down the right sideline, making defenders miss.

Later in the game, Jackson found the freshman, Keene, down the left sideline for a big play. It’s time for Fuente to start finding ways to get his tight ends more involved in this offense. Outside of Cam Phillips, Savoy and Eric Kumah, no one else is stepping up at receiver. Cunningham and Keene give Virginia Tech two versatile options in the passing game. Both players are sure-handed, impressive in the red zone and can beat defensive backs.

Defense finished another masterpiece

The Blue Devils finished the game with just 183 total yards. They had 101 yards on the ground, most of which came on one drive in the fourth quarter. Foster, whose defense often struggles with mobile quarterbacks, shut down Duke’s Daniel Jones, holding him to just 65 yards on 17 attempts. Jones also completed just 10 of 24 passes for 82 yards. Half of those yards came on one play.

Simply put, this was another domination by the Virginia Tech defense.

Tremaine Edmunds was particularly impressive, finishing with 10 tackles, including one for loss and did a great job of forcing Duke runners to cut back to the inside where Tim Settle and Ricky Walker were waiting with open arms. His brother, Terrell, also had a strong game.

Senior Brandon Facyson, who’s had his struggles at times, was dominant against the run and looked a lot like the player from 2013 before injuries hit.

Tech will need another strong week from its defense to get a win at Miami and take over the lead in the ACC Coastal Division.

Oscar Bradburn a real weapon

Tech’s freshman punter was a nice find for Fuente. The Aussie had another good night on Saturday, pinning the Blue Devils inside of their own 20-yard line on four different occasions and inside the 10 twice. In recent years, Tech’s defense didn’t have a punter like Bradburn that could pin the opposition deep to flip field position for the offense.

Bradburn has changed that narrative.

On the season, Bradburn is averaging over 43 yards per kick, has pinned opponents inside the 20 17 times and has nine punts of 50 yards or more.

On Monday, Bradburn received some nice recognition as he was named to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award. Not bad for a freshman.

You really don’t understand the need for a good punter unless you don’t have one. This Virginia Tech team knows what it has in Bradburn.