Belk Bowl Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Can Duke's High-Powered Offense Lead Them Past Cincinnati's Aggressive D-Line?

Can Duke’s High-Powered Offense Lead Them Past Cincinnati’s Aggressive D-Line?

Duke’s back in the postseason for the first time since 1994. Cincinnati, after tying for yet another Big East title, feels a bit burned after the ACC‘s realignment decision to take Louisville over the Bearcats. Will they take out their anger on the reeling Blue Devils?

Bowl Game: Belk Bowl

Location: Charlotte, N.C.

First Year: 2002 (Continental Tire Bowl)

2012 Participants: Duke Blue Devils (6-6) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3)

Last Meeting: Never

***

Duke (previous bowl game: 34-20 loss to Wisconsin in 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl)

Through eight games, the Blue Devils were the darlings of college football. At 6-2, they clinched their first bowl trip in 18 years all the way back in October. And yet, we’re looking at Duke much in the same way we normally do now, after four straight rough contests knock them down to 6-6. Simply put, Duke has one thing going for them: a prolific passing offense. Racking up over 277 yards per game, it’s hard to find a more impressive unit than this one, led by veterans Sean Renfree and Conner Vernon. Unfortunately, the defense has done little to stop other teams from putting up similar numbers in their own passing games. Ranked 97th in the country in passing yards per game, the Blue Devils have struggled mightily stopping big gains through the air (hammered home by the 25 passing touchdowns put up against them). When you make former Stanford starter Josh Nunes look like a Heisman contender, those numbers shouldn’t surprise you.

Continue reading

About these ads

ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week 10

Can Miami Run By Virginia Tech Tonight, Or Will the Hokies Shut Down the ‘Canes Offense?

The main goal for the ACC this weekend? Establish some order in the Coastal division. Three teams are still vying for the division crown — which would normally be fine and exciting — but all are seriously flawed teams, and just setting themselves up for an inevitable drubbing in the conference championship game at the hands of Florida State. You want to know how a conference earns respect? By not sending a 6-6 team to its conference title game. I’m all about giving the ACC credit where credit is due, but the best way to combat outside criticisms — especially legitimate ones — is to win games on the field and have a respectable number of “elite” teams. Right now, both of those concepts remain a work in progress.

Game of the Week

Virginia Tech Hokies (4-4) (2-2) at Miami Hurricanes (4-4) (3-2): The winner of this game gets a big leg up in the Coastal division, especially the Hokies, who would own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the other two teams in the race. But even with a division lead, both of these teams are still incredibly difficult to figure out. At times, Miami’s offense appears to be full of weapons and capable of scoring on anyone. But then at other moments, and especially against higher quality competition, the ‘Canes look utterly outgunned and toothless. Tech, on the other hand has its own issues stemming from an under-performing and passive defense, as well as a one-man show of an offense. Inevitably, it may turn into a similar game to last year’s, with one quarterback making a play at the end, while the other simply couldn’t. So is that Logan Thomas or Stephen Morris? With Miami’s inability to generate pressure, I’ll go with Thomas. Prediction: Virginia Tech 33, Miami 28

Continue reading

What’s Wrong with the Virginia Tech Defense?

Unlike Past Seasons, Virginia Tech’s Defense Has Frequently Found Itself Out of Place in 2012

Returning Starters

If you read any of the preseason articles about Virginia Tech‘s 2012 football team, there was one thing that was stated over and over – the Hokies were returning almost everyone on defense, so it was conventional wisdom that the Hokie D should be even better than last year. That was a very seductive argument, which unfortunately ignores some basic facts.

For example, one writer pointed out that nine of the 11 starters were returning, which was technically true. However, when you look at the 2012 defense vs. 2011 position-by-position, you see a slightly different picture

Now you can see the rest of the story – while those 9 players may have returned, only 5 players started the season at the same position.

Another thing you have to look at it who did not return.

  • Tariq Edwards – still on the team, but underwent surgery to alleviate pain associated with a stress fracture in his shin during the offseason; he missed first three games and may not be 100-percent recovered even now.
  • Jayron Hosley – a star on last year’s defense, Hosley came out early, and is now a New York Giant in the NFL.
  • Eddie Whitley – provided senior leadership last year, and is now a Dallas Cowboy in the NFL.

The loss of Hosley in particular was a real blow to this defense, since his presence in the defensive backfield allowed the team to do some things in the front seven to compensate (honestly) for a lack of size in the defensive line.

Continue reading

ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week 2 (Part One)

Miami’s Duke Johnson Surprised Everyone In His Debut; Can He Sneak Up on Kansas State This Week?

After just a few days off, we’re previewing ACC football action once again as week two begins with a Thursday night matchup of Big East teams. Week one wasn’t exactly the best scenario for the conference — 9-5, including the two intra-conference games — but not the worst result either, all things considered. Still, it’s only one game, and we still have plenty more to learn about every squad. Picks for this week’s matchups are below. Agree/disagree? Share your opinions down in the comments.

Game of the Week

Miami Hurricanes (1-0) (1-0) at Kansas State Wildcats (1-0): What a difference a week makes. Things looked to be in complete disarray in Miami prior to kickoff last week. One monster debut by Duke Johnson later, we’re still unsure about the ‘Canes, but once again, they bring plenty of intrigue. Miami’s defense struggled to stop BC quarterback Chase Rettig last week, and will meet an even bigger test with K-State QB Collin Klein on Saturday. If they can keep the dual-threat passer in check, they’ve got a shot. Otherwise, things could come crashing back to earth very quickly in Coral Gables. Prediction: Kansas St. 33, Miami 26

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Pittsburgh Panthers (0-1) at Cincinnati Bearcats (0-0): Cincinnati had the week of to start the year, and by the looks of last Saturday’s effort, so did Pittsburgh. After a startling loss, the Panthers are hoping to rebound quickly and save their season from spiraling. The Bearcats, on the other hand, want to start off their year on the right foot as they try and replace a ton of lost talent from the 2011 edition. With suspended players returning, Pitt will field a much better team than they did previously. However, that defense proved they’re not stopping the run anytime soon, letting Youngstown State rack up 204 yards on the ground. That’ll be an issue against Cincy QB Munchie Legaux, whose ability to tuck and run with the ball may just torture them all night. Prediction: Cincinnati 36, Pitt 24

Continue reading