Duke vs. Virginia Tech: What to Watch For

Credit:Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

When: Saturday, November 15, 2014. 12:00 pm

Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham North Carolina

Television: ESPN U

Line: Duke -5

All Time Series: Virginia Tech leads 13-8

Last Time: Duke 13, (16)Virginia Tech 10.  Anthony Boone and Logan Thomas each threw 4 interceptions in last year’s defensive struggle in Blacksburg.  Ross Martin hit 2 field goals from over 50 yards and Anthony Boone had a touchdown run in the third quarter.  Duke managed just 198 total yards of offense, but were still able to get their first win over a ranked opponent since 1994 and first against a ranked opponent on the road since 1971.  The win also snapped at 12 game losing streak to Virginia Tech.

What to Watch For:

1.  Quarterback play:  Anthony Boone is playing well right now.  He hasn’t been perfect, but he has been dependable and winning.  The offensive line had their worst outing of the season against Syracuse, they didn’t give up a sack, but they allowed enough pressure to cause several of Boone’s passes to be deflected at the line.  Boone’s interception last week was just his fourth on the season.  The entire Blue Devils offense has done a good job of taking care of the football this season.  The Hokies intercepted Boone four times in last year’s game.  The O-line will need to bounce back against a tough Virginia front.  Michael Brewer has been a mixed bag this season for Virginia Tech.  He has 11 interceptions to 13 touchdowns this season, but hasn’t thrown a pick since Week 6.  The Blue Devil secondary has played well this season.  The defense has 9 interceptions and will make things hard on Brewer.

2. Special Teams:  Virginia Tech used to be known for their stellar special teams play.  But in 2014 its Duke who has the more impressive unit.  Duke has scored on kick return touchdowns in their last 2 games at crucial times.  Once on a DeVon Edwards kickoff return and once on a Jamison Crowder punt return.  Ross Martin is yet to miss a field goal this season.  He was crucial in last year’s game and in a matchup where defense is expected to prevail, Martin could be counted on again.  Duke’s kick coverage has also been solid.  The Blue Devil special teams can put a lot of pressure on the Hokies already fragile offense.

3. No Respect for Duke:  Duke remains outside the top 20 of the College Football Playoff rankings.  They are the lowest ranked one loss, Power 5 team.  Despite being 8-1 the Blue Devils haven’t garnered much respect on the national level.  Duke has done a good job of staying focused over their run the last couple years.  They need more of that this year.  Not listening to any outside noise and know that all of their goals are still in front of them.  Duke is once again on top of the Coastal and in prime position to return to Charlotte for another shot at the ACC Title.  From there, who knows?  But for now it’s Virginia Tech Duke needs to worry about.  Everything thing else will take care of itself.

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