Duke-Virginia Tech: Blue Devils Hope to "Click" Through Hokies Game
The Adam Sandler movie Click may sum up the best-case scenario for the Blue Devils come Saturday when the Virginia Tech Hokies come to Durham for Duke's ACC opener.
The improbable plot of the movie, which includes a mysterious remote control that allows Sandler to fast-forward through all the unpleasantries of life, seems corny. But it may take that same level of improbability for Duke to win.
If Duke's offensive unit is not clicking early, they may wish they had a magic remote control too.
If all goes as most expected, Duke's idea of a perfect scenario may come straight from Hollywood. Of course, I'm sure coach David Cutcliffe would probably prefer more of a The Longest Yard outcome.
That would be the Burt Reynolds version, not Sandler's, by the way.
When it comes to the Hokies, Duke hasn't had much luck or offense.
Last year's game was by far the closest since they joined the ACC and the best opportunity Duke has had to win. But the game ended in a 14-3 loss.
The Blue Devils offense, without their leader and quarterback Thad Lewis, had nothing going, and the defense was the only thing that kept them close. But Tech ultimately won the way Tech wins—defense and smart play.
This year's matchup will feature Lewis, who is healthy, but Duke will potentially be playing with three injured or missing running backs.
Senior Re'quan Boyette, sophomore Jay Hollingsworth, and freshman Desmond Scott are all banged up.
Boyette missed the Devils' last game, Hollingsworth saw some spot action, and Scott started and posted the most impressive rushing performance for Duke all season.
Scott suffered a hamstring injury in practice this week, and his status for this Saturday is yet unknown.
So with one healthy running back, Duke's rushing game, which has not been good this year, isn't likely to fare much better against the Hokies' defense.
If Duke wants to have any chance to win, the burden will fall on the defense to keep the game close. At best, the Devils are hoping for a game similar to last year's: Grind it out and keep the Virginia Tech offense in check. But that is easier said than done.
Last year quarterback Tyrod Taylor was inexperienced, and the Hokies offense wasn't a thing of beauty. That allowed Duke's defense to keep Tech's offense out of the end zone for most of the game.
This year, while Taylor isn't the greatest of quarterbacks, he is good enough, and the Hokies offense looked very impressive against a highly ranked Miami squad last week.
Duke's last game versus a ranked opponent (Kansas) didn't end well. The Blue Devils will have to play exponentially better all around to have any chance of keeping the Hokies even close.
The tone of the game will probably be set early. If Duke can ride the wave of confidence they built last week, then they may be able to come out strong.
Whether or not they can maintain that for 60 minutes will determine how close this game will ultimately be.
I don't expect much of a contest. The best Duke can realistically hope for is to get out of the game reasonably healthy and prepare for some of their upcoming games—the ones they may actually have a chance to win.
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