#23 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #99 R.P.I. Duke:
Virginia Tech football controls its very own A.c.c. championship game destiny.
Paleontology and plate tectonics aside, unless you live under a rock or have recent been hit in the head by a rock; you probably already knew that one.
I for one did not know just how beat-up a erstwhile fair to middling Duke squad currently is; nor did I know how much Bud Bock has loosened up in the last month of play. Well, not until I read Chris Coleman’s preview and then did some quantitative science-fact R&D of my very own. And that segues us neatly into today’s word of the day…
Today’s word of the day is… facile
- Done or achieved with little effort or difficulty; easy: a facile victory.
- Working, acting, or done with ease and fluency.
- Arrived at or presented without due care, effort, or examination; superficial.
- …or yet another, message board voluminously populated mythperception…
Head Coach: David Cutcliffe, age=62, (3-5, and o-4 in the A.c.c. this year; 51-58 overall).
David has a rep’ for being an older Qb whisper –just ask the UTennessee (Peyton) and Ole` Miss. (Eli) passing record books. As most of their records’ are actually his (coach DC’s). Cutcliffe ran The Tide’s athletic dorms for “the Bear” | quite possibly a $1.7 million, bargain; as coach Cutcliffe is quietly one of the best in the business. Despite having earned multiple college football coach of the year awards from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Maxwell Football Club, and the Bobby Dodd Foundation. Has a National Title ring from Tennessee. Very loyal to his Staffers’; said nonpareil loyalty is said to have cost him the Ole` Miss. job; dang. David is a triple-bypass 99% blocked surgery survivor who then asked his rookie year Duke team to cut 1,000 lbs. in collective weight! Has only put six Qb’s in the N.f.l. and two other Qb’s into M.L.B.! Yah; I’d say that counts.
2015 record: 8 up 5 down and .5oo in the A.c.c. (4-4)
Duke Defense: (starters back=6)
- Total D=56th, with run D at 71st and throw D at 52nd.
- 17th in Sacks! And 20th in TFL (tackles for a loss)! Dee-yam.
- 27th in Red Zone defense.
- dLine is 107th in Havoc. Sr. Dt A.J. Wolf leads a defensive line that had to replace the other three starters upfront. Duke has some very inviting wider internal splits at times only to use a very narrow Sam side De/Dt split. Love to have someone from Duke tell me what the method to that madness is here? Though this is a very modest dLine, for all not named the 6’4” 28o lb. r-senior Wolf. Who is pretty dang decent by-the-bye and absolutely cat-quick with his first Gap-jumping step. This kid would be a very smart Foster 1-Gap fit. dLine uses some loops and stunts in obvious passing downs as well. And a word to the wise… they tend to come off of that odd-split Sam (or wide/strong)-side.
- Linebacking is 60th in Havoc. Only two Lb’s line-up in the Dukie second-layer and they are both nimble, agile and mobile bantamweights at 210 and 215 lbs. respectively. And same as the dLilne, only one starter (super-Soph. Tinashe Bere) returns here. Or, well, he did, until he blew out his lateral meniscus in his right knee as he too is done for the year; God Bless. Not a super high risk second-layer on tape vs. the pass; though they do run blitz a bit and the Red Zone blitz even more. If not, they spy, shadow, hook-zone drop and read-n-react as a second-layer goes.
- Duke is about as young, inexperienced and as small as you will see in their front-6. (that remind you of anyone? Less the speed, it reminds me of the ‘Cuse)
- The Duke Secondary is -well was- the best we may see all year checking in at a stellar 2nd best in Havoc says so! Entire Secondary is t-seniors, r-seniors less one r-junior. So they are as experienced in their hind-5 as they can be less one season of play. Not real tall, as only one guy is 5’12” and the rest are all south of that. The Dukie tri-Safety Secondary is the strength of the Duke stop-unit; possibly of the Duke Football team overall. That said, returning stud Cb DeVon Edwards suffered a torn A.c.l. and torn M.c.l. on the very same play. Double God Bless there. Third-safety Corbin McCarthy is basically a glorified Whip or hybrid old-school Bandit player and he is a disruptive little bugger with 15 stops behind your LOS (line-of-scrimmage) in total. Did see the true(r) Fs in a very deep Centerfielder 20+ yard look vs. long distance passing downs. With 5-deep full-time, Duke did Slot-man red-dog or blitz from the Will or wide-side. Did see some edge loops/twists including a Lb here, though this should not count vs. quick-hitting Fu’fense sets. Secondary looked very available to being beaten on crossing routes in the Red Zone as well.
- Not the best tacking stop-unit downfield; very army at such. Should be some Y.A.C. (yards after contact) here. Seems susceptible to being beaten long at times as well. Seemed to want to funnel everything back towards the center of the football field (i.e. into help, defenders); although this left Duke a bit sideline variable as leverage is concerned. Not the super fastest hind-5 I’ve ever seen as so-called recovery speed went.
Duke Offense: (returning starters=6)
- Total O=69th, Rushing O=84th, Passing O=54th.
- The Duke oLine is 73rd in Qb protection and 64th in TFL allowed.
- 3-4 Wide modified Pro’ Gun’ Set with read option spread elements more liberally mixed in this year.
- God Bless Qb1, Thomas Sirk, is recovering from a torn Achilles.
- The new Qb1 who was prolly at least a year away; one Daniel Jones is coach C’s nugget (t-freshman) year thrower and Bud Foster’s obvious bull’s-eye. 63% passing at just over 1,800 yards thrown after eight games is not so bad coming from any 18 year old inaugural power-conference year Qb. However, a 11:8 (TD:INT) throw-game passing ratio is not so good, either. Although five of those picks came in a career low of a single game so maybe he’s not as pigskin integrity impoverished as that would connote overall? Unless you count his costly six fumbles thus far this campaign; as you must go for the strip vs. Jones. Duke does take a few HR shots downfield here and there with four scoring throws of 51 or more on the year. Daniel goes 6’5” and 210 lbs. and looks like he’ll be getting carded to buy beer for awhile –a good visual issue to have. Jones amassed 8,344 total career H.S. yards on 98 total TD’s. Got to two state championships and got beaten a matching two times as well. Was Captain of every single H.S. team he played on in any sport –and that hints at popularity if not outright leadership itself. That being said, Daniel was a curious take by David, as he was 100% un-ranked by every recruiting service; and only had Ivy League offers in addition to Duke. So either the Pivot guru coach Cutcliffe saw something other than S.A.T. scores there that other schools did not or… and yet Daniel did break out of his eight quarter funk last week vs. Georgia Tech. So if you are a Dukie, there is that; and Jones is 16-for-23 on third-down passes over the last two weeks; and there is also his deep ball as this kid throws long well enough. Although he (Jones) sees lateral pocket pressure -even including front-side- poorly; as I saw him simply get blasted from the edge on film.
- The run game only logs two carries north of 34 yards thus far. And this is Rb via pure three-way dance of a committee with three guys receiving between 82 and 9o totes thus far. I’d write about another neat little blurb about the best one here, however, I was unable to determine who the best one at Rb is? As one of those three Rb’s is none other than dual-threat Qb Daniel Jones. Sr. Rb Jela Duncan (5’10” 217 lbs.) is the sparky Sam Rogers eyes’ looking Rb and at least the more physically mature Rb here with 45o rushing and a team leading 6 Majors (TD’s). And yet now the whispers say Jela is done for the duration with a blown Achilles. God Bless on that! Though he did amass over 4K rushing with 41 TD’s at little old Duke for his career and how many get to say that? Whereas third year 5’9” 181 lb. Shaun Wilson was probably expected to have done more than 373 with 2 TD’s. As Shaun was the no. 46 running back in the nation according to ESPN.com as he pressed for 6,000 yards worth of scholastic rushing. More of a game-breaker, does his best work in space and can return Punts and KO’s well enough according. Did have a good day (1o9) vs. G.Tech last week.
- Soph. T.J. Rahming and Sr. Anthony Nash are proven targets at receiver –or at least they were until Nash snapped his clavicle (OUT); Godspeed there. Further, Duke has no Wr averaging >13.3 per catch this season. T.J. is the cream of the catch-crop (43 grabs); or 31% more than anyone else, though still… Rahming is nice and the rest are middleocore or thereabouts.
- A smaller (only one guy >290 lbs.) more nimble oLine. Albeit a taller leaner oLine (only one guy <6’5”). Right side the the strength behind two r-seniors in right-G Tanner Stone (6’6”, 3oo lbs.) and right-Ot Casey Blaser (6’5” 290 lbs.). Left-Ot is pretty solid and those three combine for over 3,500 total snaps. However, the whispers seem to say that C and left-G are much weaker than the other Top-3 guys here. Kinda us in reverse. oLine does try for some Wham or Iso power-run looks up the gut. Though it remains to be seen if those plays are done along with poor Jela or not? As I favor him there a lot more than I do the dancing style of Shaun.
- Lotta ‘Gun to Pistol sets with I and/or broken ‘bone variants here. A little bit more modern and/or exotic than in the traditionally under-C Cutcliffe past. Still quite a bit of play-action to tease the run first.
- 54% run:pass 46% mix.
Duke Special Teams: (0 return)
Austin Parker is a 6′ 18o lb. debuting r-freshman punter and Holder for A.J. Reed. Rated the 8th best Punter in scholastic terms by 24/7 and he was a decent enough high school Qb. What with being a athletic three year basketball letterman and with 1,148 passing yards and nine TD’s his senior year –so trickeration is obviously en vogue here. His mum holds about every single South Carolina Gamecock girls volleyball record you can think of and his pops was only a punter for the Denver Broncos. So yah; I’d say he’s got the Parker Family Genome Project doing work here. Parker has had one punt blocked so far though he is said to have a heavy foot as well with a long of 68 already after only half a season of a collegiate career. Duke is an average 65th in Net Punting with a 56th best punt coverage team out in front. KO coverage is a combative 5th best however as suicide squads go.
Duke FG Kickier A.J. Reed has three more makes on the year than you and I do combined; that’s not good. Neither is 43% overall or three for seven on the season with a truncated long of 38. And he is 43% on pure misses alone with no blocks sent back in his face so far. The 5’11” 178 lb. rookie year of voting A.J. Reed (no relation to the MLB’er) was the 11th ranked Kicker outta high school down in Alabama. Though his H.S. stats do not speak to that; nor do they speak to bionic leg-strength. Furthermore, poor A.Jay has not made a FGA since last month, early last month, or the very first day of last month! He does have 1 P.A.T. miss as well; although Coach David must be sticking with him for a reason(s); albeit one that I am unable to, discern.
Duke is a nifty looking 12th best in KO returns and a centrist or middle of the isle 52nd in punt returns. Duke has blocked zero opposing FGA’s and punts on the year. Duke has been money on on-sides KO attempts this season; so watch for that; if it comes to that.
Special Teams letter-grade: C+++, could be a little more with better leg-swings on FGA’s.
- motive: VT commands their own destiny and Duke is finally having another Duke year. VT has more to play for here. EDGE=VT.
- weather: looks about as good as it can for early November. EDGE=PUSH.
- health: if anyone is more insalubrious in the A.c.c. than VT, it is Duke. Harsh edge, though maybe a mild EDGE to VT.
- penalties: Duke is one of the most discipline -and of course- smartest teams around. 9th best in yellow laundry gives Duke the EDGE here.
- intangibles: Duke is a most willing or user-friendly 1o8th best in the all-important Turnover Margin (-o.63 tpg); and very poor -for whatever reason(s) in the 3rd Q itself. In point of fact, Duke is dead last at 128th best in S&P’s 3rd Q Situational. Big EDGE for VT.
- fatigue: VT (is finally) +2 in rest here. Duke did have a BYE before their last game; so maybe this is not an epic advantage, though it is an EDGE to VT.
Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:
The takeaway here is… that Duke has been out-gained by precisely 90′ this season (that’s ninety-feet) and is close to being better than you think. As Duke has a lotta fast-twitch categorical noticeable advantages that are inhibited from showing up upon the all-mighty scoreboard display thanks -or should I say no thanks- to so many self-inflicted Duke misQ’s. Turnovers, and inopportune big plays given up or penalties whistled against at just precisely the ‘rong time.
That and the fact that Duke’s pretty shiny former Qb1 blew out his Achilles’; and much respected coach Cutcliffe entered his ninth season in Durham with a reshuffled coaching staff, as one longtime assistant retired, one moved to an administrative role and a third, offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery, became the head coach at East Carolina. Now mix in all kinda Wallace Stadium and pigskin facility upgrades/reconstruction and that’s a lot of flux for a basketball school to take in football terms –so it is little wonder that gridiron matters have begun to get fluxed up. Hence witness a Duke men’s football program that is 4-9 in its last calendar season of play.
Even though all of my preview magazines conspired to slot Duke somewhere between 54th and 68th best back in the summer, this is November and it is a cold November Rain for the rather usefully efficacious coach Cuttcliffe. Sirk’s injury, a mess of other hurts, a few in-game bad breaks and suddenly even being 69th best don’t sound so bad. Perfect storm seasons such as these happen both for and against in any multi decade career. Sometimes you get the bull and sometimes you get the horns and as there is just not enough talent left out on the Dukie football field for an X’s and O’s matador like coach Cuttcliffe to say: “olé`”. Let’s just hope Duke does not run such a heady big whistle off, as coach Cuttcliffe is like 27 credit hours per semester … all, class.
The most recent 3-game trends however paint a rather savvy Chris Coleman picture.
- the Hokie halt-unit has only loosened up by a whopping buck-forty or 14o yards in its last three contests! Dang, and “no”, I did not know that one, either.
- and nearly all of it is on the back-end or 127 more aerial assault yards yielded. (as there are vibes that Clark and Facyson are both more than a little dinged up)
- that’s the bad news, the good news is that Duke had been out-gained in six of their last seven games for a reason(s) — in very particular on the ground.
- the better news is, Duke has been held to an impoverished 13 or 14 points 50% of the time this campaign.
“The last time everyone was patting us on the back and telling us how good of a job we’ve been doing, we went up to Syracuse and got smacked around.”
I do not foresee a true smacking around, either way, at least not yet. Too much sideline sagacity -combined- here for that. Nevertheless, Duke is just too mucked up physically while enduring an even thinner margin of error than our very own. And quite frankly, our inherited horses are too thorough and too well bred for Duke. In very particular out on our offensive edge where we are facing a Duke defense that is tied for second in the A.c.c. in the most yards allowed per pass attempt (8.4).
Ergo, therefore, to wit, beyond a liable Evans right-ankle ender; the R.A.T.T. outcome hang-wringing will have to wait until Georgia Tech and/or @Notre Dame. As credible outcome anxiety this week would be weak-sauce and facile indeed.
Virginia Tech=38, Duke=13