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2017 Virginia Football Opponent Preview: Duke

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The Hoos’ first ACC matchup of the year is a home game against the Blue Devils

NCAA Football: Duke at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Last year’s season wasn’t a great one for UVa, but at one point in the year a couple of wins had the fan base excited about the new coaching staff and certain bloggers on streakingthelawn.com whispering “bowl game?” What led to such optimism? UVa’s first ACC road win in 45-ish years:

hnnnnnnnnnnnnnng yessssssssssss now let’s watch it with audio

My favorite part is when the UVa guy hits the Duke guy really hard.

2016 Record: 4-8 (1-7 ACC)

Duke had gone to four straight bowl games before 2016 and while a hiccup of a year is to be expected in any program, going 1-7 in conference was surely a big disappointment in Durham. Of course, having your quarterback get injured is always going to be damaging and there’s plenty of optimism for a rebound in 2017.

Notable Departures:

QB Thomas Sirk (transferred)

CB Breon Borders (3rd team all ACC)

S DeVon Edwards (all ACC in 2014 and 2015)

Notable Additions:

DE Drew Jordan (4* 247sports)

TE Jake Marwede (3* 247sports)

OT Jacob Rimmer (3* 247sports)

Best Name on the Roster:

RB Nicodem Pierre

Better Know a Virginian:

S Damani Neal (Sterling, Va)

There are a handful of Virginians on the Duke roster and Neal is an exciting prospect that joined the team early this summer. He was the fifth highest rated prospect by 247sports in their class and was an active recruiter in bringing other players into the class. Whatever’s in the water in Durham, Neal was all for it as he committed in the spring of his junior year. UVa did offer the Bullis School (Potomac, MD) graduate, along with some prominent Big Ten and Pac 12 schools.

2017 Outlook:

After being rushed into work due to Sirk’s injury, QB Daniel Jones is a big reason for optimism in Durham. David Cutcliffe’s track record with QB’s is well known and the Devils return most of their WR starters as well as RB Shaun Wilson. The OL has some holes to fill but Duke fans should be excited to see what Jones can produce after an offseason as the #1 guy.

Jordan Mack is excited to see Jones as well

shameless.

The defense returns their top two tacklers in LBs Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris, but last year’s Duke D really struggled with...everything except red zone %. To make things even less clear, they have to replace plenty of starters on the defensive line and in the secondary. There’s talent there, but little of it is proven or experienced.

The Blue Devils don’t have the easiest schedule in the world in 2017, though NC Central and Army should be wins. Toss up games against Baylor and Northwestern early in the schedule will set up their ACC slate well. If the team wins both of those, they’re 3-0 with Army later in the year and a bowl game on the horizon. If they drop them both, they’ll most likely be 1-2 with UNC, Miami, VT, and FSU looking like future Ls as well.

Prediction:

It’s easy to remember last year’s victory in Durham (see: above) and think that a more-experienced UVa team will have little difficulty with their first ACC opponent this year. However, Cutcliffe is a damn good coach and Jones should be a more confident and experience player this fall. The talent at the skill positions is there and should challenge the defensive backs for UVa. Will the Hoos get pressure on Jones (see: above)? Will Duke’s offensive line questions be resolved by October?

The main weakness I see for the Devils is the youth on the defense and a scheme that could be susceptible to big plays. If UVa is clicking better on offense than recent years, something we all optimistically expect with a healthy Benkert, I think they’ll win. If that hasn’t improved though, this could look less like a potential win or toss-up and more like a game that will favor the visitors. However, UVa’s at home coming off a bye-week, so I’ll have a little faith and predict an orange and blue victory.

Poll

Will UVa beat Duke at Scott Stadium?

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  • 73%
    Yes
    (148 votes)
  • 26%
    No
    (53 votes)
201 votes total Vote Now