2009 Duke Game Analysis: Big Plays Tell the Story on Both Sides

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Fresh off a thumping of the swagger-staggered Miami Hurricanes, the Hokies
hit the road for the first time all season to face Duke. A letdown was
inevitable … it was only a question of how big it would be. On top of that,
throw in a Duke team that is no longer the pushover they used to be and all of a
sudden the Hokies had a real fight on their hands. David Cutcliffe is proving
once again that he is one of college football’s best teachers, especially when
it comes to offense and QBs. He has Duke on the right track and if QB Thaddeus
Lewis can stay healthy, the Blue Devils have enough in the arsenal to be
challenge for every team left on their schedule. As for Saturday, the Hokies
will take the victory, breathe a sigh of relief and hopefully learn from some
major mistakes.

This was a game that was one part sloppy, one part surprising and one part
alarming …

  • Sloppy: there were way too many silly penalties and too many blown
    assignments.
  • Surprising: the superb performance by the Tech offense in the passing
    game.
  • Alarming: the big plays surrendered by Tech’s pass defense.

The penalties were reflective of the letdown that everyone knew was coming
after those three games against Alabama, Nebraska and Miami. Those types of
lapses happen to every team these days and the good programs minimize those
mental lapses and bounce back the following week. I suspect the Hokies will be
much more focused against Boston College.

Just when we thought the offense was going to have to rely on the running
game, they bust out one of the best passing days in recent Tech history. Duke’s
pass defense isn’t going to earn any awards, but that performance by the Tech
offense will have defensive coordinators thinking twice about completely selling
out to stop the Tech running game.

And after completely shutting down Jacory Harris and the vaunted Miami
passing game, the Blue Devil offense burned the Tech pass defense with five big
plays that totaled 237 yards. Where did that come from? Part of it was due to...