Originally posted on Lambeth Field  |  Last updated 10/3/12

Welcome to the Virginia Cavaliers, version 2.0. Whether or not it is the time for a quarterback change, one is being made. After 3 games with increasing issues for Michael Rocco, the Alabama transfer Phillip Sims will get his chance to revive this Wahoo offense. But it is going to take a lot more than a signal caller switch to beat the Blue Devils this weekend. So what kind of battle are we looking at on Saturday. Lets get to the preview.

Duke Blue Devils

While last week was the first meeting between UVa and an opponent, Duke is hardly an unknown. This will be the 67th meeting with the Blue Devils, with the Hoos holding a slight 33-30 edge overall. The turning point in the series was a 49-28 win in 1990 by George Welsh over then Duke coach Steve Spurrier and tied the Blue Devils for the ACC Championship. Virginia was picked over by the bowl selection committees in favor of Duke. In response to Spurrier stating they were the better team, Welsh dropped a classic line: “We scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions in that game. And..it could’ve been worse. I might have been able to score 70 that night if I wanted to.” That year is still cause for discourse around the Lambeth Field household to this day. Virginia went on to win the next 16 of 19 matchups until 2008 when Duke flipped the script and dismantled Virginia 31-3 for their first of 3 straight wins. Virginia stopped the bleeding last season with a 31-21 win in Charlottesville.

Offense

All spread. All the time. Duke doesn’t hide the fact that they are 24th in the nation in passing and 111th in rushing by listing 3 WR, 1 TE, and 1 RB on their depth chart. Now here is where it gets interesting. Three of the last 4 weeks, the Hoos have faced teams without one of their top rushers. This week, Virginia may face the Devils without their starting quarterback, Sean Renfree, or if he somehow gets better, not at 100%. Renfree (121/168, 1,282 yards, 9 TD, 5 INT) was one of the most senior returning QB in the ACC, and is having a decent year. But the drop off to “wildcat” big body Anthony Boone is tremendous (23/36, 210 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). Now they will use a mixture of running backs through out the game, mainly to keep opponents honest. Juwan Thompson (123 yards), Josh Snead (119, 2 TDs), and Jela Duncan (209, 1 TD) will do the bulk of the work, with Brandon Connette (51 yards, 5 TDs) coming closer to the goal. The big receivers to watch out for this week are Conner Vernon (462, 3 TD), Jamison Crowder (377, 2), and Desmond Scott (328, 1), with RB Thompson the only back that will split out and catch the ball with any regularity.

Defense

If I told you 4-2-5 would you be surprised? Nope. Me either. This time we see the new hot formation with a true nose guard and a tackle playing the 2 technique. BS Walt Canty and CB Ross Cockrell lead the team from the secondary and DE Kenny Anunike is the team’s leading TFL and sack man.

Prediction

Give credit to Duke. They are coming into this game 4-1, 1-0 after defeating Wake 34-27. But their other wins were against FIU, NC Central, and Memphis. Not a real hard slate. They did play Stanford in Cali and got rocked 50-13. So if, IF, UVa is somewhere in between, look for Duke to put up 28 points. So can Sims lead 5 TD drives? That is the big question we will learn about. But if we keep beating ourselves up with penalties and not create turnovers, we will be on the short end of the stick. I am 5-0 picking games this year, and I will put it all on the line and pick the underdog Hoos on the road. UVa 38, Duke 31.

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