Extra point vs. Virginia Tech: Blue Devils improve turnovers, still fall short to the Hokies – Duke Chronicle

Despite a marked improvement on the offensive side of the ball, the Blue Devils could not get enough stops for a comeback victory on Saturday against the undermanned Hokies. The Blue Zone has you covered with three key takeaways, stats and a look to the future.

Three Key Takeaways

1. Duke’s offense finally held onto the football

The Blue Devils entered this game with a league high 14 turnovers. This contributed to the first three losses. Duke’s offense patched this up against Virginia Tech, only turning the ball over once on Saturday. As a result, the Blue Devils posted 31 points, a season high. This single turnover was a costly interception on first down, which led to a Virginia Tech touchdown. Head coach David Cutcliffe should be happy with this significant improvement in the turnover department, but there is still room to improve.

2. Brice took all of Saturday’s snaps

In last week’s game against Virginia, Chase Brice, Gunnar Holmberg, and Chris Katrenick all took snaps under center. Katrenick had moderate success with signs of upside in his one drive, leading many to consider him a competitor for the starting job. It was Brice, however, who took all 39 pass attempts for the Blue Devils against Virginia Tech.

3. Inability to stop the run

Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert ran for 208 yards against the Blue Devils. Herbert’s field day included two touchdowns, one going for a 60-yard knockout punch with 2:20 remaining in the game. Leading up to this game, Duke’s defensive line had looked impressive, only allowing one other 100-yard rusher all season (Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams). Virginia Tech’s superb ability to run the ball allowed the Hokies to play from ahead for the majority of Saturday’s game. 

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Three Key Stats

1. One Turnover

After throwing four interceptions against Virginia last week, Brice seems to have gotten back on track, only throwing one against the Hokies. Cutcliffe seems to have rewarded Brice by awarding him all of Saturday’s snaps under center. However, this interception gave Virginia Tech the momentum to score its first points of the game, and Brice will need to continue improving his ball security.

2. Eight Penalties for 76 yards

The Blue Devils took a step backward from their impressive avoidance of penalties in last week’s game. Compared to Virginia Tech’s three penalties for 20 yards, it is not hard to imagine why Duke fell short in this one. 

3. Time of Possession

The Hokies had possession of the football for 34:04, while the Blue Devils had it for just 25:56. This difference can be attributed to Virginia Tech’s immense success on the ground. The Hokies allowed the clock to tick down on their watch, as they secured their lead with Herbert’s 10.4 yards per carry. 

Looking forward:

Duke looks ahead to next weekend’s game against Syracuse. The Blue Devils made strides in minimizing turnovers in the last week. This week, they will aim to reduce penalties and yards given up through the running game. The Orange have struggled in the running game thus far in the season, giving the Blue Devils an opportunity to improve. Look for the Blue Devils to come out firing to avoid an 0-5 start. 

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