Tag Archives: Duke-Virginia football

Duke and Virginia look headed for another thriller in Wallace Wade Stadium -Lance Images

Duke Football will look to make it 4 in a row against Virginia on November 12

Duke's Desmond Scott dove for the game-winning TD last year against UVA -Lance Images

The Blue Devils emerged victorious against the Cavaliers in a shootout last year in Durham. RB Desmond Scott’s late touchdown run put the Blue Devils ahead and capped the thrilling 55-48 victory. Under Head Coach David Cutcliffe, Duke is 3-0 against Virginia, and will travel to Charlottesville on November 12th to try and extend that streak, while the Cavaliers will certainly be looking for revenge.

This week, BDN welcomes back Kris Wright, editor of TheSabre.com, to answer a few questions about the 2011 Virginia football team.

BDN: The 2010 Cavaliers had an up-and-down injury-plagued season, but return a veteran group of 18 starters in 2011. The depth chart on both sides of the ball is filled with upperclassmen, led by All-ACC candidates Chase Minnifield, Cam Johnson, and Kris Burd. What are the keys for this Virginia team? How good can they be?

The biggest key for this team is doing better with the big play. The defense allowed a ton of big plays last season, including quite a few against Duke, that cost the team a lot of points. Still, the coaches believe those mistakes are correctable and that when the defense played well last season, it played really well. Offensively, UVa ranked last in the ACC in scoring plays of more than 25 yards so that meant the offense had to sustain long drives all the way into the red zone and then execute to score. If some playmakers can crank out some big plays to help put up points, it would take some pressure off the whole team. Long story short: big plays influenced a lot of outcomes for Virginia last season and that’s one area that could improve the overall results. So how good can the Cavaliers be? With a favorable schedule set-up (3 non-conference home games and arguably the most winnable ACC games at home), they have a shot at bowl eligibility in 2011.

Sophomore Michael Rocco appears to be the front-runner for the UVA QB job -TheSabre.com

BDN: Quarterback is undoubtedly the biggest question mark for the 2011 Cavaliers, and it appears to be an interesting competition, to say the least. Recently, it appears that sophomore Michael Rocco has emerged as the leading candidate. Given the overall youth and inexperience at the position, can you give us a brief scouting report on Rocco and the UVA QBs? 

TheSabre.com has projected Michael Rocco as the likely starter since early in spring practice and he does appear to have emerged as the week one starter for now. From a football family full of high school coaches, Rocco has a high football IQ so he processes schemes and reads defenses well. With a decent amount of arm strength thrown in, he looks like a guy that can deliver the ball to a growing list of playmaking options on offense. The debate for the No. 2 QB slot right now is between true freshman and January enrollee David Watford and redshirt sophomore Ross Metheny. Watford is a dual threat quarterback that has good pocket mobility and an improving throwing motion after coming from a run-heavy offense in high school; the biggest question right now for UVa coaches is whether Watford is ready to play now or does he need a redshirt season first. I’m going to bet that he plays at least in a reserve role in 2011. That leaves Metheny, a left-hander with good mobility as well, as the third option. Metheny appears to grasp the offense and do well with the shorter throws so he could be a safe option if the other two quarterbacks can’t take care of the football.

BDN: Though the majority of starters return, the Wahoos will have to replace QB Marc Verica and RB Keith Payne. What are the expectations for the 2011 Cavalier offense? Other than QB, what question marks remain to be answered in training camp?

Virginia does have to replace starting quarterback Marc Verica, the ACC’s leading scorer in running back Keith Payne, and UVa’s leading receiver in terms of 2010 yards Dontrelle Inman. With that said, if the quarterback situation works out, there’s not too much concern with filling those spots at Virginia as offensive coordinator Bill Lazor puts together the system’s second season. Perry Jones matched Payne’s 4.5 yards per carry last season and he finished with nearly 1,000 yards of offense (655 rushing and 262 receiving). You mentioned earlier that Kris Burd is back at receiver and Tim Smith returns from injury there too after showing great promise as a true freshman. The tight ends and offensive line return everyone that was getting significant snaps late in 2010 too. Then you add highly regarded recruits like redshirt freshman Kevin Parks, a Salisbury, N.C. product, and true freshmen Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell to the mix as well. So it looks like the offense should have some firepower if a quarterback can execute his part of the equation. The biggest question beyond that is who will replace Payne’s points. That’s probably going to be a list of names vs. one guy.

BDN: Given the talent on the UVA defense, it’s hard to believe that Duke was able to put up 55 points a year ago in Durham. With the combination of talent and experience, this appears to be a group capable of dominating ACC opponents. What are the keys for this unit to be successful in 2011? Who is expected to step up alongside Minnifield and Johnson?

No question about it, the defense struggled in a major way in 2010. Duke posted 489 yards and 55 points last season – those numbers were more than 100 yards and 25 points better than the Devils’ season averages. It wasn’t a one-week hiccup either. UVa struggled with almost everyone on the schedule last season. As mentioned earlier, big plays really hurt so that’s the top item to fix. Part of the problem appeared to be the transition from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 scheme as well as players swapping positions to bolster the speed on defense. That change didn’t produce a high number of sacks and turnovers as expected though because Virginia wasn’t consistent with a pass rush or in pass coverage. So the coaches hope the second year in the 4-3 helps with a lot of the mistakes and consistency issues. We’ll see. If that improvement is going to happen, some names to watch include defensive lineman Matt Conrath, linebacker Steve Greer, and safeties Rodney McLeod and Corey Mosley. If the middle of the defense plays better, those names will be involved somehow. Also keep an eye on true freshman Demetrious Nicholson at corner – he appears to be a real talent so far in fall camp.

BDN: Virginia and Duke played one of the most exciting games in the ACC in Durham last fall. The Blue Devils have had the Cavaliers’ number under Head Coach David Cutcliffe, winning each of the last three meetings. Virginia will be hungry for revenge on November 12 in Charlottesville. What do you think will be the keys to the game this fall? Can it possibly match last year’s shoot-out?

It’s a long time to November! If I had to guess right now based on last season’s trends, I’d say the keys for Virginia will be containing big plays and Duke’s running threats at quarterback. Those two items basically cost the Hoos a shootout win in 2010. For Duke, I think the keys will be to disrupt a veteran offensive line and the running game to put pressure on the young UVa quarterbacks to perform. I don’t see a shootout forming this time around, though. I’m going to guess the game will be in the 20’s.

BDN: Thanks for your insight, Kris. Good luck this season!

 

Previous week: November 5, Duke @ Miami

Next week: November 19, Georgia Tech @ Duke

BDN’s Monday Musings – Recruiting, Football Wins, Praise and Injuries

A Monday Musings tradition is the Cheerleader of the Week pic - Rick Crank, BDN Photo

Good Monday morning Blue Devil Nation!  It’s the first day of November which means we are into the meat of the football schedule while basketball begins in earnest.  It’ll be a busy week ahead as recruiting heats up and Duke prepares for Virginia on the football field in Wallace Wade this Saturday and Cal Poly Pamona visits Cameron Indoor Stadium prior to that.

We’ll start with basketball recruiting for the November early signing period begins on the 10th of this month and ends on the 17th.  The news broke over the weekend that Myck Kabongo had decommitted from Texas and that Duke was on his list.  The Blue Devils will get involved but it remains to be seen how this one will play out for many reasons.  One of those reasons is Quinn Cook who holds an offer but who let North Carolina in at the midnight hour adding them to his list just yesterday.  Cook grew up a fan of the school and it is no secret that Roy Williams always seems to come in later on just about every kid the Blue Devils target.  A lot of people expected Cook to give Duke a verbal already, including me, but oh how the landscape changes quickly in the world of recruiting and Duke has positioned themselves to come away with a point guard to run alongside Austin Rivers.  Michael Gbinije, Marshall Plumlee and the aforementioned Austin Rivers are all expected to sign during the early period.  More recruiting discussion can be found if you gain full site access by joining BDN Premium and that’s how you can support the hard work of the BDN staff and this site.

I attended the Coach K Coaching Clinic this past weekend without the media hat on for I have a passion for coaching myself.  But it was hard not to come away having gleaned some key insight into the team itself and I can share with you that Miles Plumlee earned high praise from Krzyzewski for his practice of late.  In fact, he was mentioned on three occasions and that is a sign that he’ll certainly be a main cog in the lineup early on.  The key for Miles is to stay intense for Duke and he’ll once again begin the season as a sure starter.

Also mentioned was the fact that Jon Scheyer’s eye injury was not a good thing in that he has apparently lost some of the vision.  Scheyer will embark on a journey to Europe soon and we’ll of course keep tabs on him.  Meanwhile Brian Zoubek had some unfortunate luck as well and he is currently rehabbing at Duke after an operation on his back.  BDN’s wishes these national champions a speedy recovery.

Krzyzewski also spoke of “10 standards,” for this seasons team and we’ll let him share that at a later date.  We can tell you that the US team had 15 standards as well, bet here is what we’re getting to … the standards act as a contract.  This carries over into a much discussed issue of social media, namely Twitter.  During ACC Operation Basketball I spoke to Krzyzewski about the standards which he’d clarify more in recent days.  I basically said that he trusts his players in that they would not go as far as kids just down the road.  Krzyzewski doesn’t think that he should put but so many restrictions on his team so that they’ll grow in the process both on and off the court.  In short, Duke sets forth standards which players respect and adhere to and this enables Krzyzewski to trust his players judgement and that means we”ll continue to be entertained by Nolan Smith’s tweets.  And isn’t it obvious that the Duke kids have not embarrassed themselves or the school?

I personally think it is crazy to hang on every single comment from Twitter via prospects every little whim, but we do like it as a tool to further our site.  That said, join BDN Twitter for we bring you an additional game experience from press row in Cameron and Wallace Wade.  If you want constant behind the scenes tidbits then sign up now and get a unique perspective.  We carried you every step of the way to the national championship last year and we hope to do so again this season.  And we promise not to tweet what we are eating  and every little thing which is not pertinent to your fandom.

Man, did the football team need a win and the victory over Navy cured some ills getting the Blue Devils back into the win column.  One cannot help but think what if Duke had defeated Maryland and Wake Forest, two games where they outplayed their opponent for they’d be 4-4 going into the UVA game.  Still, the team has a chance to end the seasons with some positives but it’ll take consistent play.

Winning down the stretch for Cutcliffe’s troops will also be aided by another game with no turnovers.  We see what can happen when Duke protects the ball the entire game against a Navy team coming off a victory over Notre Dame.  Turnovers have doomed the Devils more often than not this season and they’ll need this to turn around against a physical Virginia team coming off a win over Miami this past week.

Lastly, thanks for your patience of late as our staff has been very busy.  We’ll get fully back into the gro this month and that means max coverage of the games on the Duke Beat along with some tweaks to the site along the way.  Also, check out our Facebook site which we have not pushed with the success of BDN Twitter for there all fans can post and or add pictures there.

Lastly, for the longest time we’ve held out from allowing advertisers on this site but that will change in the near future.  Originally, we thought we’d give you a break from those annoying ad’s which bounce off the page or force you to read them for we’re dependant on memberships to fund BDN.  For several years we chose to keep advertising off to facilitate a clean look for your viewing pleasure but the additional income will go towards site maintenance and growth.  We promise to avoid those annoying ads but will be adding some which we personally approve of.  Advertisers can contact Susan in Admin or myself for more details with your needs and at this time we still have a top banner opening.    Have a great week ahead and remember we all make up the Blue Devil Nation.

Duke at Virginia Game Notes

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Blue Devils Travel To Charlottesville
Duke (4-3, 2-1 ACC) will head to Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, Oct. 31 to face Virginia (3-4, 2-1 ACC). Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (ET) at David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium. The game will be streamed live on ESPN360.com with Frank Giardina calling the play-by-play and Danny Kanell providing the color commentary. The Blue Devils have won two straight games after beating Maryland at home, 17-13, last weekend. The Cavaliers are coming off a 34-9 loss to Georgia Tech at home a week ago.

Last Time Out
Duke’s defense and punt coverage unit came up with two takeaways in the final five minutes to help the Blue Devils earn a 17-13 win over Maryland. Vincent Rey intercepted a pass at the 4:09 mark and Brandon King recovered a fumble with 1:42 remaining to seal the win. Thaddeus Lewis completed 30-of-43 pass attempts for 371 yards and two touchdowns. Duke had two receivers go over 100 yards. Donovan Varner caught eight passes for 120 yards and one touchdown and Conner Vernon had five grabs for 102 yards.

Duke-Virginia Series
Virginia leads the all-time series between the two schools 32-28. Duke snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Cavaliers last season. Virginia has won the last four in Charlottesville.

Overall: Virginia, 32-28
First Meeting: Virginia, 10-4 in 1890
Last Meeting: Duke, 31-3 in 2008
Largest Duke Margin of Victory: 49 (49-0) in 1943
Largest UVA Margin of Victory: 59 (59-0) in 1990
Duke’s Last Win in Charlottesville: 1999 (24-17 2OT)
Virginia’s Last Win in Durham: 2007 (24-13)
Current Streak: Duke, W1

Last Meeting
The Blue Devils posted a big second half against Virginia last season, outscoring the Cavaliers 28-0 and forcing five turnovers after the game was tied 3-3 at halftime. Duke caused six turnovers in the game with Michael Tauiliili posting an interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery to go with 16 tackles. Jabari Marshall returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown as well.

Inside the Numbers …

  • .222 – Duke is tied for the ACC lead and tied for fifth nationally in fourth down defense as opponents are converting only 22.2 percent of their fourth down opportunities. The Blue Devils have not allowed a fourth down conversion in four attempts in the fourth quarter this season.
  • 2 – Senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis will move into a tie for fifth on the ACC career passing touchdowns chart with two passing touchdowns. Lewis currently ranks sixth with 63 career scoring tosses.
  • 4 – The Blue Devils’ punt coverage unit has recovered four fumbles this season with two returned for touchdowns. Last week against Maryland, Brandon King recovered a fumbled punt with 1:42 remaining in the fourth quarter to seal a win over the Terps.
  • 5 – Sophomore wide receiver Donovan Varner is tied for the ACC lead with five touchdown receptions this season. He has caught a touchdown pass in four of the seven games this season.
  • 5.57 – Junior wide receiver Austin Kelly leads the ACC with 5.57 receptions per game. He has caught five or more passes in five straight games and in six of the seven games overall on the year.
  • 6 – True freshman Conner Vernon needs just six catches to tie the school record for receptions in a season by a freshman. Corey Thomas has held the record of 37 since 1994.
  • 8-0 – Under head coach David Cutcliffe, Duke has an 8-0 record when leading after the third quarter. The Blue Devils have had leads heading into the final stanza in all eight of Cutcliffe’s victories at Duke.
  • 25 – For the first time in school history, four different wide receivers have caught 25 or more passes for the Blue Devils. Kelly (39), Varner (35), Vernon (31) and Johnny Williams (26) have all gone over 25 receptions in the first seven games.
  • 100 – The Blue Devils had two wide receivers record over 100 yards against Maryland for the first time since 1999. Varner (120) and Vernon (102) each posted their second 100-yard games of the year. Vernon became the first freshman in Duke history with two 100-yard games in a season.
  • 144.47 – Lewis has a quarterback rating of 144.47 this season, which currently ranks as the top mark in school history. Ben Bennett is the school’s record holder with a 142.45 in 1982.
  • 300 – With 289 career tackles, Vincent Rey is 11 stops shy of becoming the 13th player in Duke football history to register 300 career tackles.
  • 322.6 – Duke leads the ACC and ranks sixth nationally in passing offense by averaging 322.6 yards per game through the air. The Blue Devils last led the league in passing offense in 1991. Duke also ranks third in the league in total offense with an average of 397.0 yards per game.
  • 350 – With his 371-yard outing against Maryland, Lewis has now thrown for 350 or more yards in five career games. He is one of four quarterbacks in Duke history to have four or more performances of 350+ yards, joining Anthony Dilweg (7), Ben Bennett (6) and Spence Fischer (5).
  • 2,000 – With 28 passing yards, Lewis will become the second player in ACC history with four 2,000-yard passing seasons. The only other player to accomplish the feat is N.C. State’s Philip Rivers. Wake Forest’s Riley Skinner is 51 yards shy of his fourth straight 2,000-yard season.
  • 9,000 – Lewis is 293 yards away from becoming just the third Duke player and seventh player in the ACC with 9,000 career passing yards. He is 314 yards away from tying Spence Fischer for second all-time at Duke and sixth in ACC history.