Scouting Report: Duke

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Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech travels to Duke on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

At the very least, David Cutcliffe’s Duke teams have looked like believers in the hard/smart/tough mantra. But not too long after they walloped the Hokies last year, the Blue Devils suddenly looked confused and vulnerable. Things have only gotten worse this year.



Duke’s offense collapsed down the stretch in 2019, so this year Cutcliffe has taken over play-calling duties for the Blue Devils. So far it hasn’t worked. They’ve lost their first three games 13-27, 6-26, and 20-38.

Schematically, we’re seeing a lot more pistol formation from the Blue Devils this year. Here’s a Power Read Toss they’ve been running:

That fake toss gets the pursuit off-track, and the QB can read it for a keep/toss decision. They like having at least 11 personnel on the field for the pistol stuff, especially on early downs. Another play to watch for is the counter out of pistol. The call has an old-school feel, with the QB’s making about a 300-degree rotation away from the run-side before meshing. That means on a run going to the right, it’ll look like he’s at first handing off on the left, which can make defenses hesitate. Georgia Tech’s Flexbone counter did the same thing. Thinking of the Flexbone, this formation seems to have replaced the Flexbone looks Duke messed with