At 7-1, the Virginia Tech Hokies are quietly one of the hottest teams in America. Their only loss came at the hands of the hottest team in the county, the Clemson Tigers. VT is peaking at the right time, maturing, and preparing for a strong finish to their 2011 campaign.
Saturday the Hokies travel to Durham, North Carolina to face the 3-4 Duke Blue Devils. Losers of two straight, the Devils have offensive firepower, but have lacked the defensive intensity necessary to compete with the ACC powers. It’d be a stretch to say Duke can hang with the Hokies, but Virginia Tech has played down to it’s competition at times this season; leaving the door open for a road-let down.
Everyone knows by now the two players that make the Hokie offense go. It starts with QB Logan Thomas; he’ll bring his strong arm (10 TD/5 INT) along with his power running style (6 TD) to Durham; but what has become increasingly clear as the season has gone on is the importance of RB David Wilson for the Hokies.
Wilson became the first rusher in the country to crack the 1,000 yard mark this season. He’s third in the FBS in rushnig yards per game with 129.6 yards per game, and leads the Hokies in rushing TD’s with seven. Wilson needs to get his touches in order for the Hokie offense to succeed.
When the running game starts gashing opponents it frees up Thomas to make big plays down the field in the passing game (something VT was unable to do against Clemson). Duke doesn’t have the players on defense to stop Tech from running or throwing the ball; but Duke does have an explosive offense. Expect a shoot-out approach from the Dukies.
With talented receivers Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner, Duke has one of he most prolific receiving combinations in ACC history. VT CB Jayron Hosely is expected to play, he’s missed the last two contests with an injury. The Hokies will need him to play well to slow down Duke’s down field attack.
The Hokie defense will be without another starter for the remainder of the season. Leading tackler, linebacker Bruce Taylor is done for the year with a foot injury; Senior Barquell Rivers will take his place. That’s three starters on defense the Hokies have lost since the beginning of spring camp. Still, the defense has rebounded from last season’s down year to be ranked 13th in total yards, and 7th against the run.
Never look passed an opponent. Always prepare for a fight. The Hokies are hot, there’s no denying that. But an ACC game on the road can trip any team up. Watch for the Hokies to come out strong and put Duke away early. They don’t want Duke and that high-powered offense to stick around and gain confidence. Another appearance in the ACC Championship is sitting out there for the Hokies. They control their own destiny.
Prediction: VT 35-Duke 17
Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post discussed why David Wilson isn’t getting Heisman consideration while leading the nation in rushing yards. The article is worth a look, especially to see the lofty goals Wilson set for himself during the spring.
But one simple reason why Wilson isn’t getting Heisman love is touchdowns. He’s given away 5 TD’s to backup RB Josh Oglesby and 6 to Thomas. Alabama RB, Trent Richardson (one of the Heisman favorites) by comparison has 989 yards and 17 TD’s in one fewer game than Wilson.
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.