For the third time this season, the Hokies have collapsed at the end of a game. A game they should have had in hand and failed to put away. This is a trend that has been present for the last few years. It’s a losing mentality. When this team encounters any adversity, they fold like a cheap tent. There are reasons like talent and depth that this team wears out late in game. But that’s only part of the answer. The other part is a psychology of losing that this team can’t seem to kick.
Special Teams: 49th
Special Teams: 53rd
It’s been a while but Duke is good at football again. Mike Elko has done an awesome job of getting the most out of the roster he inherited from David Cutcliffe. This is what VT fans were hoping for from the Pry era but it appears that Duke had a more ready-made roster. Duke has a very good rushing offense that will give the Hokies trouble. Particularly rushing from the QB position. Expect the Hokies to play a lot of zone to try to keep the Duke running game in check. There will be a lot of rushing yards from Duke QB Riley Leonard, especially from read option plays.
Duke’s defense is vulnerable against the pass. Unfortunately, VT’s passing offense is not consistent enough to take advantage of it. The Hokies show flashes here and there in the passing game but it’s not enough. If there was a game where the Tech should focus on airing it out a bit, it’s this game. The Hokies should focus on targeting Kaleb Smith, Dae’Quan Wright and Nick Gallo downfield. This is also a good opportunity for guys like Da’Wain Lofton and Stephen Gosnell to step up in the passing game. The Hokies won’t be able to score much in this game from their run-based offense. They will need some downfield throws to move the ball against a stout Duke defense.
It seems like everything has been a struggle for the Hokies this season. Do they have a chance in this game? Of course. But Duke seems like they are firing on all cylinders based on their roster. Tech is still trying to figure things out. The best thing for Tech to do is forget all the negative plays and bad energy and focus on going 1-0. This team has the talent to win but they need to put a complete game together. There are only three more opportunities to get that done this year. Let’s see if they can finish the season strong.
Prediction: Duke 31, Virginia Tech 17
Last week’s win was a big one. Being down 23 players and 2 coaches is a big deal. Especially when even more than those 23 players hadn’t practiced much in the two weeks leading up to the game. Getting a conference win given those circumstances is impressive. The coaching staff did a great job preparing the team, despite difficulty practicing and preparing with a couple of starters out.
Special Teams: 28th
Special Teams: 37th
Duke has struggled on offense this year. They are 70th in the nation in turnovers this year (out of 72 teams that have played). Ouch. Their quarterback, Chase Brice, is only completing 51.3% of his passes with a 1:3 TD-INT ratio. Also not good. You start to wonder if David Cutcliffe might give his backup a shot in this game. Duke’s struggles in the passing game might not look so bad if they had an effective running game, but they rank 65th in the nation in that category. Duke is averaging 254 yards through the air this season. But most of that is due to the face they’ve been trailing by multiple touchdowns in their three games this season. If the Hokies have to play backups in the secondary, Duke may find some success thru the air.
Duke’s defense is solid, but their offense haven’t done them any favors by leaving them out on the field a lot this year. They have a pair of talented defensive ends who can get after the quarterback. Like last week, this is a good week to get the running game going and keep pressures off the quarterback. Any slow developing plays work to the strength of Duke’s defense. Virginia Tech needs to focus on the running game, screen game and quick passes to keep the Duke defensive ends out of the backfield.
Duke looks better than their 0-3 record. With that defense alone, they should be able to win some games. Unfortunately for them, their offense has been a disaster to start the year. They can’t run or pass with any sort of predictability. And that’s when they aren’t turning the ball over — which they do a lot. Like last week, the Hokies might be down a couple of starters due to COVID-related issues. Also like last week, this is another week where they should go with a safe gameplan of running the football to try to keep their defense off the field. Worked for them last week. And it’s likely to work for them again this week.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Duke 17
This is a critical game for the 2019 Hokies. This team can’t afford to go 0-2 in the ACC. And if they lose this game, it’s hard to find 5 more wins on the schedule for the Hokies to go bowling. They will need 7 wins to go bowling this year since they play 2 FCS teams.
What scares me most about this Duke offense is Quentin Harris’ ability to scramble. Although the Hokies dealt with a mobile QB against Furman, this will be a big step up in competition. He reminds me of Anthony Brown who had a very good game against the Hokies in Week 1. This offense doesn’t have a lot of weapons. As long as the Hokies don’t struggle with Duke’s option and misdirection plays, they should be able to keep the Duke offense in check.
The Duke defense is solid. This group should be able to shut down the Hokies’ run game without too much trouble. If the Hokies want to have success, it will have to be through the air. You can count on Duke stopping the run with their front four and trying to force Ryan Willis into mistakes by mixing up coverages. Ryan Willis will need to make good decisions, limit turnovers and put the ball in his playmaker’s hands. If he can do that, the Hokies have a good chance to win this game.
The Hokies young offensive line will struggle against Duke’s experience defensive line. This is a game where the offensive line will have to give Ryan Willis enough time to throw. And he will have to make good decisions against an experienced Duke secondary. It will be difficult for the Hokies to find a running game against this Duke defense. The Hokies will need score close to 30 to win this game — which will be tough against this Blue Devils defense. The best hope for the Hokies is to keep this game low scoring and make enough plays in the passing game to pull this one out.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Duke 24
That was a stinker in the 757 last week. Plain and simple. When you show up to a road game with no focus or motivation, that’s what’ll happen to you. It’s surprising that it happened considering Justin Fuente’s constantly preaches the 1-0 mentality. I saw a 0-1 mentality last weekend. Turn the page and move on to the next week.
The Hokies face their biggest test so far this season with Duke. Duke is a surprising 4-0 this season. Maybe we all shouldn’t be too surprised considering Duke has had a solid football program for a number of years. This is a well-coached team that will not beat themselves. They play disciplined football and take care of the ball. The Hokies will have their hands full this week.
Overall S&P+ Rank: 53rd
Offensive S&P+ Rank: 38th
Defensive S&P+ Rank: 72nd
Special Teams S&P+ Rank: 4th
Overall S&P+ Rank: 27th
Offensive S&P+ Rank: 42nd
Defensive S&P+ Rank: 31st
Special Teams S&P+ Rank: 11th
That Hokies defensive rank. Ouch. Not very Bud Foster-y. The Hokies are going to need to step up in a big way to stop Duke’s potent offense. They will likely be going up against Quentin Harris. Which is a good thing because injured starting QB Daniel Jones was completing passes at a 74.4% completion percentage before he got injured. That would be bad consider what we saw from Virginia Tech’s secondary last week. Guys to look out for on Duke’s offense is Quentin Harris rushing from the quarterback position, Brittain Brown at running back and TJ Rahming at wide receiver. The Hokies need to also be aware of Johnathan Lloyd as a deep threat against the Hokies young secondary.
If the Hokies want to be successful against Duke’s defense, they are going to need to get their rushing game going. If there is a vulnerability on Duke’s defense it’s stopping the run. This is a game where the Hokies run game will need to open up the downfield passing game. The Hokies need to try to establish the run early and often. Something they were not able to do last week against ODU. Ryan Willis will need to use his arm and his legs this week to give Duke’s defense trouble. He also need to take care of the ball. If the Hokies turn the ball over, Duke’s offense will make them pay for it.
After three games watching Virginia Tech, I still have no idea about this team. They’ve played three objectively bad teams. Two good results and one really bad one. What we do know is that this defense has issues. They are young and they are going to make mistakes. How quickly they are able to remedy those errors week-to-week will define how successful this season can be. How this team bounces back against Duke will be telling for how the season will play out. Going by the numbers, Duke looks like the better team even if they do field their backup QB. They are like the Hokies but with a better defense (by the numbers). This is a game that could easily go either way but since there are so many unknowns in this game, you go with what the numbers tell you. Duke by 10.
Prediction: Duke 38, Virginia Tech 28
The Hokies put their best performance of the year together against UNC. They picked a good time to do it with all the #NC2VT recruits in town. As time goes on, I think you will see the Hokies make deeper in-roads into North Carolina. I think the game last weekend already helped with a couple of Virginia Tech’s top targets.
Overall S&P+ ranking: 17th
Offensive S&P+ ranking: 59th
Defensive S&P+ ranking: 8th
Special Teams S&P+ ranking: 47th
Overall S&P+ ranking: 79th
Offensive S&P+ ranking: 88th
Defensive S&P+ ranking: 55th
Special Teams S&P+ ranking: 95th
Under David Cutcliffe, Duke is always a tough out. They are tough. They are disciplined. And they play good defense. No 59-7 box scores this week.
Where Duke is struggling this year is in the passing game. Daniel Jones has not been able to find the success he had in his freshman year. You can call this season his sophomore slump. Expect to see the Hokies focus on shutting down the run and forcing Daniel Jones to beat them with his arm. Something he has struggled with so far this year.
Duke has an effective but not explosive running attack. The Hokies boast the 16th ranked rushing defense in the country. They should be able to slow down the Duke rushing attack and force the offense to come thru the arms and legs of Daniel Jones. I am more concerned about his legs than arm. Although, he only has 217 rushing yards for the season.
Where is Hokies will have issues in this game is on offense. They will struggle to put long drives together against this Duke defense. If the Hokies are going to have success, they are going to need to find a ground game. Duke’s defense is a little more susceptible to the rushing attack than the passing game. The Hokies will need to find ways to get their running backs involved in the gameplan.
At this point, Duke is the third best team the Hokies have played. This won’t be a cake walk like UNC but expect a game like the BC game. The Hokies will struggle to move the ball on offense and the defense will make life hard on Duke. This is a game where it would be a good if the Hokies can get off to a good start offensively. This game being played in the rain makes me nervous for sloppy conditions that can cause turnovers which could hurt the VT offense. But all things being equal – I like the Hokies offense, defense and special teams over Duke’s.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, Duke 10
You can follow Mike Kline on Twitter at @MikeKlineDSB and read his blog at DukeFootballBlog.com.
What are your thoughts on your team so far?
So far I’ve been pretty pleased with Duke’s season, though that loss to Northwestern seems less and less impressive as the Wildcats have fallen off the last few weeks. This is the best defense I’ve seen in Durham probably ever. The defense is fast and aggressive and much better than advertised. The offense is, however, not and have struggled against Power 5 conference teams. Quarterback Thomas Sirk has struggled with accuracy on the deep ball and decision making and the running game has been sporadic. There are weapons there just not consistent.
What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?
I expect a close if not ugly game that could come down to a possession or two either way. In short similar to last years game. It will be a battle.
Do you still see Lane Stadium as a “tough place to play”?
Lane Stadium is one of the best venues in the ACC. I’ve been there and the atmosphere and tradition is second to none in the conference. It is still a big time advantage for the Hokies against most team.
At this point, how do you see the Coastal division shaking out? Which team do you think will end up winning the division?
Right now as much as I’d like to pick Duke I think the Blue Devils lose a game or two along the way and I think this game could be one of them. I feel like, as much as I hate to say it, that North Carolina and Pitt have been the class of the Coastal to date. That could change in a weeks time, as per the usual in the Coastal. I think the division comes down to those three Duke, Pitt, and Carolina. Whoever has the strongest finish wins.
What is your prediction for the game?
Like I said earlier, I expect a very close game, probably low scoring. I think if Duke can muster enough offense they will win the game with their solid defense, if Virginia Tech can keep the Duke offense in check and get some opportunistic play on offense or special teams they could squeak out with the victory. If I have to make a prediction I’ll go homer and say Duke wins 17-10, but wouldn’t be shocked if the score were the other way around. This game feels like a push to me.
You can follow Mike Kline on twitter @MikeKlineDSB
What are your thoughts on your team so far?
So far Duke has either met or exceeded my expectations on the season. Most expected a good team with a good record, but not sure many believed, even with a favorable schedule that they’d be 8-1 and in position to be in the drivers seat in the coastal. Duke is not all things for everyone, but they are a team that believes they can win. Anthony Boone has been at times very good and the running game has been surprisingly good. Defensively they’ve done well against the pass, but struggled against the run. They are a team with a lot of momentum heading into the Virginia Tech game.
What are your expectations going into the VT game?
Duke has had two back to back games against physical opponents so their could be a combination of fatigue and some bruises to account for when they take on the Hokies. They also have the risk of looking ahead at UNC on the big Thursday night matchup next week so minds could be else where.
The good news for the Blue Devils is that they are at home and after years of being the doormat they believe they can beat anyone.
Virginia Tech has definitely had a down year since beating Ohio State, but the fact is they are still a formidable opponent for Duke and one that they cannot look past.
Who do you think is going to win the Coastal Division?
Right now, unless Duke has a total collapse, I think the Blue Devils will take the Coastal Division as long as they win two of their next three games and get some help in some other games. Obviously if they win out they will take the crown for the second straight year. I just have the feeling this is another special year for the Blue Devils so I think they’ll get the job done.
What is your prediction for the game?
I think this is a game that can go either way but I expect something similar to what we saw between these two teams last year. I think Duke wins a low scoring game, though I don’t count out the Hokies at all. It wouldn’t be shocking if they pulled out the W, but I think Duke wins 21-17.