Duke vs. UVa: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Despite the three touchdown final margin, the Blue Devils proved the ability to play with the elite in the ACC after putting a good scare into the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday in Wallace Wade. TDD takes a look at the game and offers analysis on what went right, wrong, and a preview of next week.

What went right:

The Duke offense woke up from their season-long slumber and was able to gain 337 yards of total offense against a very formidable Virginia defense. Duke QB Mike Schneider had one of the best games of his young career, throwing for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tailback Cedric Dargan enjoyed his second 100-yard game of the season. Former HS quarterback turned receiver Deon Adams also completed two passes on trick plays to set up scores. The Duke offense was also able to convert on 7 out of 14 third-down situations to keep drives alive.

What went wrong:

As was feared going into the game, the Cavaliers were able to run the ball almost at will against the depleted Duke defense. UVA racked up an astonishing 348 yards on the ground, 223 of which gained by running back Alvin Pearman. The Cavalier offensive line dominated the undermanned Duke defensive line and opened gaping holes for their backs. Because Virginia was able to keep the ball on the ground so much, Duke was unable to force any turnovers. Not being able to produce any plays on defense or special teams put too much weight on the Duke offense to keep pace with Virginia. The offense was almost up to the task, but was forced to settle for field goals on a couple of occasions, and failed on a 4th and goal situation on the 1-yard line.

TDD Player of the Game:

The Duke offense enjoyed one of its best games of the season, against a solid UVA defense. The passing game moved the ball enough to keep Duke in it for most of the game. The leading receiver of the game was Duke tight end Ben Patrick. He made two highlight reel plays to keep drives alive on third down. His 5 receptions for 92 yards are both career-highs for the sophomore co-captain from Savannah, GA. For his efforts, Ben Patrick is this weeks' TDD player of the game.

Final Analysis:

Coming in to this weekend, Duke had one primary goal on defense: slow the Cavaliers' running game down. Over 300 yards later, it is obvious that the defense failed in its task. The Devil defenders played hard and didn't give up, but got worn out by arguably the best offensive line in the country. Even with UVA's outstanding ground-work, however, Duke was not out of this game until midway through the 4th quarter.

The final score was not indicative of how close this contest was. The Duke offense needed to execute better in the red-zone. Moving the ball between the 20s does not score touchdowns.

Mike Schneider played his best game of the season, and Cedric Dargan ran for 108 yards. Offensive coordinator Marty Galbreath called an outstanding game, effectively mixing in the run with a pass first offense. Most of Dargan's yards came on draw plays and 3rd and long runs that caught the UVA defense off-guard. With a little more consistent execution, the offense might really surprise some people in the remaining games.

Look Ahead:

Duke heads back on the road again to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Deacs are coming of a near-upset victory against 5th ranked Florida State. Despite not scoring an offensive touchdown, they led FSU for most of the game, but in the end could not hold off the Noles. Wake will be looking to keep their very faint bowl hopes alive and that should provide plenty of motivation for this weekend's contest.

The one silver lining is that Wake is not quite as strong along the lines as Duke's recent foes have been. The Devils have a much better shot in the trenches this week, but will still have its hands full preparing for the unorthodox Wake offense and its outstanding skill combination of Chris Barclay and Jason Anderson. If Duke can give an effort like they did against Virginia, however, Wake could be in for a big surprise.

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