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Virginia Tech-Duke Preview

Records: No. 6 Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC); Duke (2-2)

Coaches: Frank Beamer (180-90-2, 23rd season); David Cutcliffe (6-12, second season)

When Virginia Tech Has the Ball
Against Miami, Virginia Tech played its best game offensively against a ranked opponent. And the Hokies only threw nine passes, indicative of where their strength lie. If the Hokies can run against Duke, they should have no problem moving the ball. As a shifty yet powerful runner, Ryan Williams has continued to impress; he ranks sixth nationally with 123 rushing yards per game. The Blue Devils rank 80th nationally in rush defense, allowing 153.25 yards per game. Although Dukes has talent on its defensive line, standout tackle Vince Oghobaase has missed the past two games with a leg injury. Even if he is healthy, it might not make a difference if Virginia Tech can free space for Williams.

When Duke Has the Ball
Duke has moved the ball well through the air. Quarterbacks Thaddeus Lewis and Sean Renfree have spread the ball to four main receivers who have 10 or more receptions. But while Lewis, a senior, is experienced and Renfree is accurate (67.4 percent), the Hokies have shut down passing offenses, ranking seventh nationally in pass efficiency defense (84.92). And Duke has been absent a running game. Virginia Tech has been susceptible allowing big rushing plays but it responded last week when defensive coordinator Bud Foster challenged the unit to step up. Against the one-dimensional Blue Devils, Virginia Tech should be able to stifle those gains on the ground and, in turn, limit their aerial attack.

By Mark Viera  |  October 2, 2009; 5:48 PM ET
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