Thursday, October 11, 2012

No Seriously, How Will the Hokies Beat Duke?

With an overall record of 3-3, Virginia Tech is officially off to its worst start in football since 1992.

That season, the Hokies finished 2-8-1 and Frank Beamer was forced to fire the majority of his coaching staff in order to retain his job.

Tech's loss to North Carolina also harkened back to the early nineties when the Tar Heels returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

It marked the first instance of  that since 1993, the year Frank Beamer and company began their still intact (for now) run of bowl games.

The Hokies are in a tough spot and I say this with all sincerity, they will have their hands full Saturday against Duke.

The Blue Devils are 5-1 and riding high after a a 42-17 thumping of Virginia.

Redshirt sophomore Anthony Boone threw four touchdown passes in that one, and Duke's outstanding starter Sean Renfree should be back for the trip to Blacksburg. Both may play as Boone is a bit more mobile and gives Tech something extra to prepare for.

Sean Renfree is trying to lead Duke to a bowl game for the first time since 1994.

Renfree is a 6-5 redshirt senior who will most certainly get a shot in the NFL after this season. Both QBs give Duke the ability to stretch the field, which is why they have the No. 30 passing offense in the country.

To be fair Duke has played a weak schedule, but their passers are legitimate and they have the ACC's all-time leading receiver in senior Conner Vernon.

Vernon has 239 career receptions including  41 for 555 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Duke doesn't run much, but they do enough on the ground to keep defenses honest and as stated before they will run a bit more with Boone at quarterback out of the read option.

The Blue Devils aren't a strong defensive team. That pairs well with the bright spot from Tech's loss at Carolina which was a decent passing performance.

Logan Thomas threw for a career-high 354 yards and must be salivating over Duke's 76th ranked pass defense.

The big question is how does the much maligned Tech defense stop Duke's spread passing attack?

Look for a simpler scheme from Bud Foster, more base 4-3 defense and less of the nickel package. That works better in terms of personnel and should allow guys to stay in their natural positions.

The weather for the frigid 2008 game was not Sean Glennon's fault. 

It will still be a challenge, but the defense has played better at home for whatever reason and the Hokies desperately need a win if they hope to salvage what has been thus far a disappointing campaign.

Duke probably should have beaten Tech last year in Durham but the Hokies pulled out a 14-10 win.

Duke has been close to winning this game several times in recent years, including the 2008 match up in Blacksburg when the Hokies ended up winning 14-3—without a doubt the coldest game I've ever attended.

Again, Saturday will be a challenge for the Hokies. They are down in the dumps and Duke is rolling along and just a game shy of bowl eligibility.

That being said, Tech should squeak out a close one at home. I wouldn't be shocked by anything at this point but there is still a significant talent gap between these two teams and Virginia Tech is backed into a corner.

We'll see if that's enough Saturday.

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