The Virginia Tech Hokies are in control of their on destiny in the ACC Coastal but travel on the road once again, this time to the Duke Blue Devils in a battle between the top and bottom of the Coastal. While the Hokies are heavy favorites, they have to be ready for a challenge so here’s our Hokies to watch from Henry Skutt.
Nigel Williams/Ken Ekanem
The defensive line has been particularly strong the past couple games, and it’s only going to improve in the game against Duke. Williams is returning from sitting out the past two games due to an injury with Ekanem missing the first Thursday night game, and the defensive line should benefit tremendously from their additions. Against Miami, the Hokies were missing both players and the defensive line still played extremely well — shutting down two very good offenses.
Against Duke, they should impact the game in a major way, and the Hokies defense should return to an even more dominant status with the return of one of their best linemen plus a healthier Ekanem. Look for those two, combined with Woody Baron and Co., to record at least 3 sacks and apply pressure all day to the Duke quarterback.
Coming off a 400-yard performance against the Panthers, Evans should once again should be successful. He is within three touchdowns of tying the record for passing touchdowns in a season, and easily could get that against Duke on Saturday — if the Hokies stick to a pass-first playbook. The main reason that was the case last week was because a) Pitt and their secondary was terrible and b) they committed to stopping the run no matter what.
Against Duke, look for Fuente and his staff to once again try and establish the run game to open up the passing game. It’s what they’ve done all season and it has proven to be successful. If that can happen, look for Evans to have close to 300 yards in the air and around three touchdowns.
This isn’t one player, but you should pay attention to this unit as a whole against Duke. The Blue Devils are starting redshirt freshman Daniel Jones at quarterback after their experienced QB, Thomas Sirk, went down with a torn Achilles before the season even started. Given that, and how much pressure that the defensive line could be bringing against the young QB, I am expecting the defensive backs to have a field day.
Against Virginia, Jones threw FIVE interceptions. Granted, that is certainly a “bad day” in anyone’s definition, but I think that it shows the Hokies vaunted defense can force some bad throws and create turnovers.
Look for Mook Reynolds, Adonis Alexander, and Brandon Facyson to be ball-hawks all game and expect at least a couple interceptions. This game should have a lot of Hokie fans, and that should disrupt this iffy offense even more so.
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