Two things happened last Saturday in the ACC that jumped out as unusual. First, the Hokies went to Chapel Hill, NC and got rolled up and kicked out of town to the tune of a 48-34 final score. It was the type of performance that some Hokies fans expected, given the teams problems leading up to the game. Then I came to find that Duke, the Virginia Tech’s next opponent, blasted fellow ACC coastal resident UVA 42-17 (a 17-14 game at the half), moving to 5-1 on the season and 2-0 in ACC play. That’s good enough for the Blue Devil’s best start since they started 7-0 during the ’94 season. So now, the question for most Hokie fans isn’t, how do we save this season? But rather, how bad will this get?
A year ago Duke gave the Hokies one of their closest conference games of the season in Durham. VT escaped with a 14-10 victory. This year with a better record, a more potent offense, and momentum on their side the Devils will come into Blacksburg thinking upset the whole way.
What to Watch For
- Duke won last week without their starting QB Sean Renfree who was out with a shoulder injury, backup Anthony Boone threw for 212 yards and 4 TD’s in his stead. Offensivly, we don’t know what Logan Thomas will give the Hokies anymore. His inconsistency and poor mechanics have time and again grounded the VT offense through the first five games. Now, faced with a must-win game, can Thomas put together an all-around good performance (something we got used to last season)? Or will Duke’s offense be the story and repeat what the Tar Heels did last Saturday. If Logan plays well the Hokies win.
- At this point it’s fair to say that VT’s defense is downright bad…let that sink in…a Bud Foster squad can’t stop anyone. First Pitt, then Cincy and finally UNC; all three teams were able to both run, pass and use the play-action effectively, burning the Hokie D for an average of 521.6 yards in their three losses. Saying “the D needs to play better” won’t solve the problem anymore. There are serious issues with containment on the outside for runners, huge holes opening up in the middle of the defense, not to mention the plethora of big plays down the field. This team is not built to win shoot-outs, the defense needs to create turnovers and get off of the field on third down to keep the game close. If they can do that the Hokies win.
- Play calling, play calling, play calling. I could go into it, but offensively the Hokes have no rhythm, no momentum anytime they get the ball, and no identity. It’s not too late in the season for them to find it, fixing it before playing Clemson and Florida State in consecutive weeks should be a goal. Still, the play calling has to improve to give these guys a chance. Most defenses know we’ll run the ball on first, run the ball on second out of the shotgun (normally a read-option), and depending on distance throw the ball on third. Beamer and Stinespring need to come up with better game plans on offense to keep these games close.
I’ve been almost as bad at predicting these games as the Hokies have been at winning them this season. But I’ll go out on a limb and go with Tech taking care of this hot Duke team at home. What they do when the schedule gets really tough is another story, but for now they’ll get on the positive side of .500 and live to fight another day.
Prediction: VT 27 – Duke 24
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.