Duke Virginia Tech football preview

#20 R.P.I.  Duke @ #73 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:

Today’s word of the day is… brink.




S.A.T. cheering 1o1
S.A.T. cheering 1o1
  1. The upper edge of a steep or vertical slope: the brink of a cliff.
  2. The margin of land bordering a body of water.
  3. The point at which something is likely to begin; the verge
  4. The point at which something is likely to end; like the 1993 bowl streak if we don’t win here.

As the @Boston College defensive juggernaut football game played in what amounts to a football library raised to the mausoleum pigskin power is tough. @Georgia Tech vs. that wacky chopping bad Flex-bone is nobodies gimmie. North Carolina may just have the most Coastal Division talent, so that’s tough. And finally @france is unknown. We should win, though we really do need to win in the meantime, and we technically need to win at least twice before we get there to keep that bowl streak in play.

Yes, this season is now officially on the brink men.
Fish or get off the pot.
Now or never.

Duke Defense: (starters back=6)

  • 4-2-5 tri-Safety look | will show some run heavy 5-3-2-1 looks deep on your side of the field. Does have some variable and semi-variable 3-4 and 4-3 alignments as well. Lotta moving piece, literally, here.
  • #2 in total D, #2 in passing D, #2 in scoring D, #1 in 1st-down defense allowed, #29 in rushing D. WOW!
  • #4 in defensive field position
  • 84th in d-Line Havoc Rate; 64rd in Lb Havoc Rate.
  • 86th in sacks and 28th in Tackles For a Loss.
  • bit dinged up in the second-layer, best Lb (Brown) out for the year. Top reserve dinged up as well. God Bless.

    oddball offsets 1o1...
    oddball offsets 1o1…
  • D has some odd little 1950’s era Tom Landry with the NY.Giants vintage Flex elements to it. Offsets here and there and anywhere in the front-6. (see: double offset d-Line pic)
  • and I do mean MULTI Flex-sets. LOTTSA Duke alignment toggling, shifting and switching here folks. TONS!
  • the 2 true ILb’s will run-blitz and pass-blitz alike. And they come from all angles. Loops, twists, stunts, delays, whatever. Will blitz 1-3 men per play at times. Not a risk adverse Set. Will bequeath a BIG play rushing seam if/when the Blitz suffers a containment N-S breech.
  • Tighter man short-side and more medium man Will side. 2 safeties have a bit more run responsibilities and the 1 true Fs who plays Cover-1, at least 14-15 yards and typically off the screen. #33 the Fs did not appear to have ideal help-speed upon breaking tape. Cb’s on edge do play the ball, not the man. They are aggressive in defending the ball, too.
  • Duke Secondary has glossed itself: “The Coalition” (of cheetahs!) Well, alrighty than. (no, I’m not making that up!)
  • Ranking #5 in Db Havoc Rate, collates well enough. Ditto #16 Jeremy Cash, Duke’s very own Cody Grimm or a possible A.c.c. Defensive Player of the Year! On pace for 24 TFL this year; as a hybrid Bandit-Safety. WoW!
  • Duke will use a perfectly even 4-2-3-2 zone flood look which is a pretty kool twist to their man-elements. Caught 3 INT’s from this Set on tape! Very nice change-up for your W.Series seam-heads.
  • Not quite the best secondary speed I’ve seen. Though they are highly experienced as all did return this year and do not make between the ear-pad mistakes.
  • saw a little more ‘tude creeping into this Duke D at times on film. Not real bad, just enough to notice, for the first time.

Defensive letter-grade:

Duke D

Duke Offense: (returning starters=6)

  • Single back 3 Wr set. 62nd in total O, 54th in rushing O, 67th in passing O. (an average and a balanced O)
  • #3 in offensive field-position.
  • Qb (Jr., 6’4” 220 lb. T.Sirk) has not thrown a pick since September, though only has one completion >38 yards! He does lead Duke in rushing with 325 on the ground.
  • 9th best in TFL allowed  and 6th best in sacks allowed!

    Could not do this, any better!
    Could not do this, any better!
  • Per always, the Duke offensive line does a magnificent job of creating lines-of-sight or throwing lanes (U shaped cup) for the Duke Qb! (see: pic)
  • Run tilted offense which is odd given coach C’s Manning brother’s aerial assault pedigree, Duke  is now 59% rushing.
  • oLine does some unusual splitting.
    G–c—G (note: the extra hyphen) or an wider offset center-to–Guard split over on the wide side. (seem: Tuaman A-gap blitz invite to me)
  • Short to medium quick-hitting passing. Lotta delay routes here. Will flood play side and rub/pick or crossing route off of that.
  • Will work the single Hb on delays, wheels, bananas and flys outta the backfield.
  • Not the most powerful will imposing offense in short-yardage. Lotta timing, run-fits or run-shapes have to morph just right in this stop-watch zoning scheme.
  • Fun offense to watch, and thank coach God coach C does not have more talent than he does. (as he may be 1st-best in the A.c.c. at this thing called: coaching)
  • Lotta read-Option looks, with a nifty hesitation baiting/riding the hand-off element to it. Qb Sirk ain’t half bad here, to be a rookie. Although the Tb’s lack size/physicality and BIG play pop.
  • Wr T.J. Rahming (leg) may miss this game. Leaving very average to modest Skill Position talent; or the lack thereof, all the more glaring. Smaller Wideouts as well, as two are <170 lbs.!
  • Not a bad offense, just not real real explosive (only 1 run >30, 1 pass >38), and not quite as succinct nor as efficacious as in the past either.

Offensive  letter-grade:

Duke O

Dukie Special Teams: (both return, and both are N.f.l.’ers)
Duke’s Kicker (Ross Martin, Sr.) has made an astonishing 45 kicks in a row as FGA’s and P.a.t.’s go going all the way back to last year. He has not missed a kick in in 11 months and change, going back to, …you guessed it, going back to the Virginia Tech game last season. WOW! Just wow! Can you say unanimous all-American 1st-team Kicker? No relation to the famous Western TV actor of the 1950’s, although this Ross Martin is in the running for the very best Kicker I’ve ever scouted. Maybe even in the lead. As he has 5 career makes beyond mid-field with zero career blocks. WOW, again. He was born on my b-day (o7.o3) and his uncle stared for Knute Rockne! Need I say more?

The Punt game is very decent, 33rd in Net Punting and a difficult 24th in Punt Return defense. r-senior Duke Punter Will Monday is only a returning All-America and three-time all-A.c.c. punter, yah; he sucks. Duke is 64th in Punt returns and a sizzling 5th best in KO returns. S DeVon Edwards has only taken 5 KO returns to the house! Duke is 64th in KO coverage; with 1 TD allowed. Zero blocks allowed so far, Duke has blocked 1 FGA.

Special Teams letter-grade: (best P & K combo all year, nothing bad anywhere, just 1 punt return or so removed from an A+++ so I’ll just give then an A+)


  1. Prep/Rest time: Duke with a major incoming BYE week edge.
  2. weather: 68f, mostly cloudy, non-factor, for a change.
    (New River Valley fall foliage: is nearing PEAK!)
  3. motive: Duke riding high, VT riding low, ’nuff said.
  4. penalties: major edge to Duke at 19th best.
  5. health: Duke has some hurts, VT has a some more, check-mark Duke.
  6. surface: same, both play on grass; a push.

Beat Duke is really all about what?

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Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is…

The Virginia Techs’ total yardage metric is -93 yards in the hole since Purdue, meaning our Hokies have been out-gained by 93 ever since then. Additionally, Virginia Tech’s  O is down, 9.1 points per game or about 33% in our last three contest’s. That ain’t good folks as that’s a classical declining negative slope. As there are some very credible whispers that at least two offensive Staffers are already gone. Ergo, therefore, and to Whit, riddle me this… how many points will it take to put Virgina Tech down from here on out? 20? Maybe even high-teens? Less???

So is Top-25 ranked Duke the rightful favorite here?

Do we deny this?

Has slingshot, will travel...
Has slingshot, will travel…

However, is this is the hind-dog of 6 N.F.L. Qb and 2 M.L.P. pitchers coach, one David Cutcliffe’s superlative run at Duke vis-à-vis the last several years? Yes.

Listen, this is a good Duke football team, it is a solid Duke football team, it is just not an unbeatable one because it does not field the under the scout/rivals radar scope star-power hidden rocket fueled Duke football individual game changing talent of this recent Dukie Bowl run.

It is prolly the least good Duke football team since 2011. Though it is still pretty good, and above average altogether. It is just that it does not have the vapid offensive star power of the three most recent Duke Coach C incarnations. It is pretty damn stout over on defense however and my calculus suggests that it will not take much more than 20 points from Duke to win. Primarily because Duke has not allowed >21 points in the regular season since October of last year! You do the maths…

Ergo, to Whit and therefore, I foresee a game of defensiveness, field-position, and little things brinkmanship. Will and Chris are right this time, this ’15 Duke is beatable, and they are prolly more beatable than any Duke since 2011. However, so are we.

And that pushes this gridiron game right to the brink, along with the season and the aforementioned 2.2 decade long O&M bowl streak. Duke however has quietly been out-rushed every time not named Army since September. And therein lies our O&M lifeline. As T.McMillian and the oLine must control this game, and push a svelte Duke defense that fields 81% (9 outta 11) of its ballers that tip the Toledo’s at <250 lbs. around! This is a small Duke D men, and we should treat them accordingly.  Unless of course team Tech has let go of the ’15 lame-duck rope? As there are whispers that Frank’s time has already gone and 1 all-world Qb recruit may be interested in, leaving.


Take thy pick; as the X’s and O’s match-ups are not all that unfavorable here gents. The applied sports psychology match-up in this one however just might be. Sadly, I’m siding clinical, here.

Finally, do recognize that Frank could very well only have 120 minutes in remaining in his 1st-ballot Hall of Fame Lane coaching career. (What with 3 of our final-4 out on the road)

Respect or at least appreciate, accordingly. Thank you.

upset Index=58%

Virginia Tech=22, Duke=23


6 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Great write up, dude. Looks formidable.

    MB back gets VT playing with the requisite passion. I think we’ll control the O-LOS so that Travon gets off and MB gets a few good downfield looks. The DL wakes up and the DBs will do enough. 34-17 good guys.

    Did that sound confident? 😉

  2. If well protected, and with ground game accompaniment?

    There is NO doubt in my mind that MB12 is the better Qb here.

    (if we are ready to play)
    As you’d have to bet coach C’s boys will be.


  3. Nice write-up. This is going to be a slugfest. And when you get into slugfests in the trenches, mistakes is what decides the game. VT has been far more mistake prone this year. Let us hope it does not happen again.

    1. Prolly is a Duke edge.
      I would have a very tough time saying coach C teams lack focus.
      IN particular after a BYE week with extra time to coach and scheme-up.

      and thanks!

  4. O-Line can help win this one by allowing us to pound the rock and open up play action for Bucky, Ford and Phillips. Key for us is not getting behind the chains on first and second downs. (NOTE CSL!!! against a run blitz defense go straight at them not laterally in running game). It’s how JCC had huge game few years ago and will be big for us this week w/ McMillian busting through the seams.

    On Defense – no big plays, keep the offense in front as they don’t have big play makers on Duke’s O, so we don’t need jailhouse break blitz packages with no safety help.

    VT 28 Duke 10
    Let’s Go Hokies!!!
    Beat them Blue Devils back to Durham!!!

    1. NOTE CSL!!! against a run blitz defense go straight at them not laterally in running game.

      A very shrewd Eye there sports fans.
      BINGO dat!

      Though I might 1st down blitz Duke a bit?
      Let that inert less explosive O of theirs chase a bit if I could.


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