There have been a lot of distractions for the Hokies since they lost at Miami.
Our embattled offensive coordinator became more embattled. Our defensive coordinator appears to be coaching his final games in orange and maroon. The offensive and defensive units appear to be feuding. I think the stress of this season may be taking its toll on Beamer, the coaching staff, and even the players.
But then Georgia Tech beat Miami.
It should be different now. None of the crap from the last eight days should matter anymore. If we win two games at home against two teams we fare well against, we will win the division and be one win away from the Orange Bowl. This should be a motivated football team that comes out for a night game at Lane Stadium Saturday.
Duke actually has some talent on the defensive side of the ball. I love the way defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase and linebacker Michael Tauiliili play. They have helped Duke improve at stopping the run. Last year, the Devils were No. 11 in the ACC in YPC allowed with 4.3. This year, that number has been lowered to 3.8, good enough to have them at No. 7 in the ACC.
It's an improvement. While the Hokies should be able to find success on the ground, I think it won't be the kind of success we are used to against Duke. We will have to throw the ball to beat the Devils.
Fortunately for the Hokies, Duke is terrible at defending the pass. It allows an ACC-worst 7.9 YPA. That number is slightly higher than the 7.8 YPA the Devils allowed last season, also worst in the conference.
Both cornerbacks for the Blue Devils are seniors, which just means it's the same sorry players they've been trotting out at corner the last couple years. They should be pushovers. I think this is the game the receivers finally get a TD catch.
The Duke linebackers are good enough to limit the catches Greg Boone and the rest of the tight ends will get. It will just be up to the offensive line to give the quarterbacks enough time to find open receivers.
Duke is getting two sacks per game, which is in the middle of the pack in the ACC. However, the Hokies are giving up the most sacks per game in the ACC, both overall and in conference games. Tech has surrendered 28 sacks this year, including an astounding 19 in six league games.
That's while using a mobile quarterback for all but one of the games.
Needless to say, that's a key stat that needs to improve for the Hokies to win out and go to Tampa.
I think the Hokies will struggle to put points on the board against Duke. Yes, we'll be able to move the ball, but I'm not sure it will lead to a lot of points. The Blue Devils have been decent in the red zone this year. This could be another Dustin Keys special.
The Hokies have been relentless at getting to the quarterback this year. Tech has the most sacks in league games with 19 (3.17 per game). It will face a Duke team that prepares to play without starting quarterback Thaddeus Lewis. While Lewis is not the most mobile of quarterbacks, he is able to avoid pressure. Duke has allowed 11 sacks in six conference games.
Zack Asack looks to be the man under center for the Devils. Simply, they will not be a good football team if Lewis isn't the quarterback. He is one of the primary reasons Duke has improved this year. He has avoided the costly interceptions that have plagued the Duke offense in years past. Without him, it will be open season for the Hokie front four, as well as the secondary.
Duke's best offensive player is wide receiver Eron Riley, who at 6'3" poses a matchup problem for every VT defensive back not named Kam. However, without a semblance of a rushing game and without Lewis, Riley will be a non-factor. I think Duke will be lucky to score points if the defense is motivated and plays to its potential.
I think the defense will get sacks and picks against the Zack Attack. Those may need to lead directly to points if the Hokies want to put away the Devils, who at times have been pesky this year.
I don't want to see Jason Worilds play unless we absolutely need him on Saturday. He's banged up, and there's no need to risk further injury to his shoulder against Duke. We will need him against the Wahoos.
Check the Box Score for...
2. VT passing yards
3. Duke rushing yards
4. Sacks (both teams)
VT Players to Watch
5 - Tyrod Taylor, So., QB
81 - Jarrett Boykin, Fr., WR
90 - Orion Martin, Sr., DE
17 - Kam Chancellor, Jr., FS
Duke Players to Watch
15 - Eron Riley, Sr., WR
74 - Cameron Goldberg, Sr., LT
3 - Vince Oghobaase, Jr., DT
34 - Michael Tauiliili, Sr., LB
Virginia Tech 16, Duke 3