Duke Falls to VA Tech, 31-14, for First Loss

Image result for duke virginia tech
TE Noah Gray (87) catches a pass from QB Daniel Jones. Source: USA Today https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2018/09/29/willis-leads-virginia-tech-to-31-14-upset-of-no-22-duke/37994103/

Duke fell to Virginia Tech, 31-14, for their first loss on Saturday, having gone 4-0 earlier in the season. We still have a respectable 4-1 record, but the loss hurts. Duke really didn’t play well, either: Daniel Jones started out looking great, especially coming off the collarbone fracture, but there were a few that looked not-so-great. He simply overthrew to Chris Taylor in the end zone twice, who got his fingertips on it. He was nearly intercepted multiple times, and one the Hokies did manage to pick off and got a field goal off of it. One ray of hope was that drive, actually: Duke’s defense didn’t play well for most of the game, but at the end of that drive Virginia Tech got down into the red zone and we held them there for a field goal.

Running Game Stalled

I want to say one thing about Virginia Tech: Whatever happened in that Old Dominion game did not happen last night. They were just about as good as they’ve been in years past. Old Dominion was a fiasco but it’s not a testament to the team’s potential. They are good and OD can’t change that, as much as they’ve shifted the public eye. Virginia Tech’s defense (which OD tore up) was stout in this one, and they stalled Duke’s running game to a grinding halt. They ran up the middle a lot but succeeded more on short screen passes. The running game led to a lot (a lot) of 3rd down scenarios that, if you look below, it seemed only the Hokies were able to pull off. We had just 71 rushing yards, and we average over 230. Virginia Tech’s defense played with a chip on their shoulders and we did anything but, plain and simple.

3rd Down Issues

Virginia Tech converted on the most unlikely of 3rd down situations: 3rd and 9, 3rd and 15, all kinds of things that Duke is supposed to defend. Often backup QB Ryan Willis would make us pay for the blitz with a pass that the impressive receivers could get for a first down to extend the drive. We will have to improve our third down defense if we want to succeed under the bright lights, which Duke has not shown an ability to do.

Looking on the Bright Side

This loss is not the end of the world for the Blue Devils. We’re still just two games away from bowl eligibility and we’ve got plenty of games to do that, and we can learn from this game for bigger ones in the future. Daniel Jones did not get hurt all over again- something we worried about as he entered the game just three weeks following surgery. I’m shocked at the number of sources calling this an “upset”: VA Tech is a good team, period. Duke is still a good team, period. This is a bump in the road, plain and simple. Bull City Proud!

Bleed blue. Next week we’ve got Georgia Tech: now we can have the mentality of a chip on our shoulders, like Virginia Tech had with us. We need that kind of a game right now. By the way, Three weeks to COUNTDOWN!

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