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

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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!

ESPN’s Mitch Sherman: Duke Is a Playoff Contender

Wait, what? Now I don’t want to overhype anything, seeing as last year’s 4-0 start was the last of that streak, but I find this pretty darn awesome: Duke is listed by ESPN’s Mitch Sherman as a playoff contender. Now, this guy also says Virginia Tech is “wounded”, which is followed by saying that we could stay undefeated for a while (they’re up next at home), and even a group of beaten-down Hokies is no picnic, so I’m not fully believing him. But hey, he’s been hired by the best sports reporting group in the biz, hands-down, so he can’t be that wrong. And get this: just ten teams are ranked ahead of us. This is great news for a program that, let’s be honest, before the arrival of our savior, David Cutcliffe, was an absolute afterthought. Even with all of the injuries, I truly feel that we can be something good this year. Daniel Jones is officially back and we’ll see how tonight goes.

Also, you’ll need an ESPN+ subscription to read this article, but here’s the part we’re looking for: the computer says Duke in the playoffs in simulation 2,173. The odds aren’t great, plus, it’s listed as the “wackiest” outcomes, and the most likely one is that we win out, including the ACC championship. Also included is simulation 4,839 where we go with one loss but defeat Clemson in the ACC championship in dramatic fashion to get in (the author, Seth Walder, made the dramatic fashion part up but with these two teams that’s not unlikely).

Bleed blue. Virginia Tech: tonight, 7pm ET on ESPN2. Go Duke.

Daniel Jones Making a Comeback (Literally)

 

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Source: MSN: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/msn/duke-qb-daniel-jones-could-be-back-for-virginia-tech-game-just-weeks-after-surgery/ar-BBNDSeU

Just three weeks following surgery to repair a fractured left clavicle, Duke’s Daniel Jones is back for the Blue Devils and will start against Virginia Tech. We knew that he had a shot at returning during October, but a return this early is both exciting and nervewracking. Every hit he takes will be a scare, but I trust the judgment of Duke’s medical team to get him out when he’s able, which is apparently now. Duke Basketball Report stated the situation well:

“Three weeks isn’t long for most people to get over surgery and most of us aren’t running for our lives every Saturday.”

–JD King

“Facts.”

–Me

Bleed blue. Go Duke!