Thursday, September 25, 2008

game preview: Duke


History against the Blue Devils: 32-27

Last matchup: W, 24-13 in Charlottesville
Team records: UVA 1-2 (0-0), Duke 2-1 (0-0)

Last week: UVA lost to Connecticut 45-10; Duke def. Navy 41-31 (technically both these games were two weeks ago)

Line: Duke by 7

Duke blogs: DudeSpin
Duke, as you may have noticed, and believe me if you are a Virginia fan with access to the Internet you noticed, is favored to win this game. This has caused fans everywhere to hover their hand over the panic button, and they're read to smash that mother down should the team falter again. Fear not, friends. They're still Duke. Aren't they?

- For the love of Welsh, open up some damn holes in the running game. This is probably going to be a recurring item, because we can't do this. I am not at all confident about this week either. Duke's run defense is 83rd in the nation but that is woefully misleading. They had Navy last game, which as you know is the Texas Tech of the run game, and actually held Navy to 140 yards less than their average. So I am not asking for this to happen consistently. Just the first run play. And use Peerman. If we can just get one running play off on the first drive that doesn't get stuffed at the line as always, it can open up the passing game. Because.....

- Duke's pass offense is lousy. And again, woefully misleading. By the usual metric, which is yards per game, they're 13th in the nation. By a more useful metric, yards per attempt, they're 112th. I am normally an advocate of using the run to open up the pass and not the other way round, but I'll make an exception here. Verica has officially impressed me, the run game consistently sucks, and Duke's secondary is bad. Make them respect the wide receivers on the edges and open up the middle for Peerman.

- Spy Thad Lewis. Spying a quarterback is kind of an admission your defensive line can't stop him going anywhere, which is probably true given what Tyler Lorenzen did to us. Lewis is the team's leader in yards per carry when you don't count the sacks, and Duke has two main dimensions to the offense: Lewis' running and Eron Riley's receiving. We're not going to stop Riley from getting his yards, but if we can stop Lewis scrambling around and picking up yardage on his own, our chances are greatly improved.

- Bring back whatever magic pills the defensive line took against Richmond. They flat dominated the Spiders and got smoked against UConn. The potential is there to dominate again, and if they don't this week, they never will.


- Lewis racks up all kinds of rushing yards. Duke doesn't have that great a rushing game outside of him, but if he's running free, everyone else will too.

- Terrible pass coverage from the 'backers. We know Riley is going to get his yards, but B-back Johnny Williams has similar stats except that Riley has scored all the touchdowns. He's not going to be the responsibility of the secondary - the linebackers need to take care of that B-back that Cutcliffe has been using since forever. If they let Williams run wild, it adds that third dimension to Duke's offense and makes it exponentially harder to stop.

- Playcalling. By all means, continue going for it on fourth down. Seriously. By all means, do not continue to call that one-option-only play-action rollout which USC picked off, UConn batted down, and neither team was the slightest bit fooled by. When you don't have a running game, nobody bites on the play-action, OK, Mikey?


Could be a little bit wet. Like the Richmond game, there's a biggish storm threatening the area beforehand. And despite the wave of support for Duke, and the widely held idea that this is the game for them to get off the schneid and finally win an ACC game, I think their conference losing streak goes on a little longer. I think the passing game will be the key. Verica looked good in his first college game ever, and he's now had two weeks as the guy to get his work in, start looking a little further downfield, and get to know his receivers better. And I just refuse to believe, until I see it, that we are worse than freaking Duke.


“I didn’t even know that so it doesn’t matter to us. It might matter to them. I mean it should.” – Kevin Ogletree, when asked about whether Duke’s ACC losing streak matter to the Hoos. (From TheSabre's Good Ol' Blog.)


North Carolina @ Miami, 12:00
Maryland @ Clemson, 12:00
Boston College vs. Rhode Island, 1:00
Florida State vs. Colorado, 3:30
Wake Forest vs. Navy, 3:45
NC State vs. South Florida, 7:30
Virginia Tech @ Nebraska, 8:00

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