Virginia Tech Hosts Duke, Prepares for Tough ACC Stretch

Justin CocchiolaCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2010

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Devon Morgan #2 and Bruce Taylor #51 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrate the end of the first half against the Boston Collge Eagles on September 25, 2010 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

It took a few more weeks than expected, but Virginia Tech's offense is the monster everyone thought it would be, and that's without Ryan Williams.  Probably not the news that Duke's head coach David Cutcliffe wanted to hear.

In Williams' absence, Tyrod Taylor has been the best offensive player in the ACC. Taylor leads the Hokies in rushing with 480 yards on the ground, and he has completed 62 percent of his passes. He also has 15 total touchdowns (12 through the air) and only three interceptions, so you can see why the Hokies offense has taken off.

Don't be quick to judge Taylor with his success against weaker opponents. Taylor was playing dynamite at the beginning of the season, but the offensive line was playing poorly, which was affecting the running game. Taylor has struggled with his deep balls at different points through the season, but he's been on point the last two weeks.

Back to Williams, Hokies head coach Frank Beamer said that he won't play unless he's 100 percent healthy. Look for Williams to sit out another week and then the Hokies have a bye week before hosting Georgia Tech on Thursday night.  Expect Williams to make his return against the Yellow Jackets.

Even without Williams, the Hokies should run wild for a second straight week. The Hokies are averaging 227 yards on the ground per game, and Duke ranks 101st in total defense. This is pretty similar to Wake Forest, who the Hokies scored 49 points on in the first half.

The Hokies offense should be able to move the ball at will on the Blue Devils, and expect them to score a number of points in the first half. Maybe not 49 points this week, but don't be surprised with a number like 35.

Virginia Tech struggled to stop the run against Wake Forest, but Duke doesn't have the same rushing attack that the Demon Deacons possess. The Hokies need to really work at stopping the run, especially with Georgia Tech coming to town in two weeks.

Duke will look to throw the ball but shouldn't have much success. Virginia Tech's secondary is too athletic and fast for Duke's quarterback Sean Renfree to handle. Renfree has thrown for over 1,600 yards this year with 10 touchdowns, but he has a problem turning the ball over having thrown 14 interceptions.

The Hokies are huge favorites and should win by five touchdowns. However, this is the last cupcake opponent for a while. After their bye week, the Hokies host Georgia Tech on Thursday night, and then they go on the road to North Carolina and Miami in consecutive weeks.

Virginia Tech is playing good enough football to win all of those games right now, but you never know what type of injuries are going to occur. Depending on who wins the North Carolina-Miami game this weekend, Virginia Tech could afford to lose to the loser of that game and still make it to the ACC championship in Charlotte.

Don't expect Beamer and company to settle for anything like that, but it's something to think about. Virginia Tech and Florida State are the only two teams without a loss in ACC play, which gives them a huge advantage heading into the final stretch of the season.

However, the Hokies can't look ahead. Duke isn't very good, but, as we saw earlier this year with JMU, anything can happen. Taylor will have another huge day through the air, and Darren Evans and David Wilson should run wild on the ground. The defense needs to have a dominant outing to head into the bye week with a lot of confidence, which should help them with Georgia Tech.

Virginia Tech 48, Duke 10