Live Coverage: Virginia football hosts Duke in ACC football

Augusta Free Press staff writer Scott German leads our live coverage of today’s ACC football game between Virginia (3-7, 2-4 ACC) and Duke (6-4, 3-3 ACC). Scott will report from the press box at Scott Stadium with score and stat updates, commentary, analysis and more.

 

 Virginia vs. Duke • #DUKEvsUVA
Date/Time Sat., Nov. 21, 2015 | 3:30 p.m.
Location Charlottesville, Va. | Scott Stadium (61,500)
Television ESPN3
Radio Virginia Sports Radio Network |
Satellite Radio — Sirius 113 | XM 129
Multimedia Gametracker | WatchESPN
Twitter @UVa_Football | @CoachMikeLondon | @VirginiaSports
Game Notes Virginia | Duke | ACC | UVA Depth Chart
Additional Information Tickets | FacebookInstagram | 2015 Fact Book |
2015 Season Stats |
Coach London Weekly Press Conference Transcript

 

uva-duke-headerGame Preview: Virginia (3-7, 2-4 ACC) is a two and a half point favorite over Duke (5-4, 3-3 ACC) on Saturday, which makes you have to wonder what the folks out in Vegas are thinking.

The Blue Devils are coming in on a three-game losing streak, sure, but UVA has lost its last two, and even in their wins, the Cavs have not exactly been dominant, with each of their three victories being by six points.

Virginia has also been its own worst enemy in key losses, giving up a game-winning 39-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds to go in losing to #4 Notre Dame, turning the ball over five times in the second half in a 26-13 loss at #12 UNC, having a late touchdown called back by penalty in a 27-21 loss at Miami, and fumbling a punt inside the 5 to set up the clinching score for Louisville in a 38-31 loss last weekend.

UVA offense vs. Duke defense Duke has given up 170 points in its last four games after giving up 56 in its first six, and the Blue Devils D is ranked ninth in the ACC in total defense (351.2 yards per game). The Virginia offense has been better since the bye week in Week 5. Matt Johns threw for a career-high four TDs last week, but the running game took another step back, gaining just 94 yards on 31 carries against the Cardinals. Johns has a passer rating of 128.3, going 205-for-332 passing (61.7 percent) for 2,295 yards, 17 TDs and 14 interceptions. Taquan Mizzell leads UVA in receptions (63, for 628 yards, 9.9 yards per catch) and rushing (577 yards, 4.2 yards per carry). Canaan Severin has 50 catches for 699 yards (14.0 yards per catch) and seven TDs.

Duke offense vs. UVA defense Duke QB Thomas Sirk was upgraded to probable and will see action on Saturday, according to coach David Cutcliffe, but backup Parker Boehme, who was 23-of-42 for 248 yards in last week’s 31-13 loss at Pitt, will also play. Duke is scoring 30.5 points per game, sixth in the ACC, and gaining 426.0 yards per game in total offense, fourth in the ACC. Sirk has a 120.5 passer rating, going 186-for-317 (58.7 percent) for 1,979 yards, 12 TDs and five INTs. Sirk is also Duke’s leading rusher, gaining 555 yards (4.9 yards per carry). Shaquille Powell has run for 488 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and averages 10.4 rush attempts per game. Max McCaffrey has 42 catches for 503 yards (12.0 yards per reception), and Johnell Barnes has 34 catches for 411 yards (12.1 yards per reception). The UVA defense has been better in recent weeks, but is still last in the ACC in scoring defense (32.9 points per game) and 12th in total defense (414.9 yards per game). The D has been particularly vulnerable against the pass, with the league’s worst pass-efficiency defense (157.8 opponent passer rating).

Special Teams UVA punter Nicholas Conte averages 44.3 yards per kick, with 13 of his 42 punts downed inside the 20. Placekicker Ian Frye is 15-for-19 on field goals, but missed a 24-yarder in the second half in the loss at Louisville last week. Duke punter Will Monday also averages 44.3 yards per kick, with 25 of his 51 punts pinning opponents inside the 20. Placekicker Ross Martin is 19-for-22 on field goals, including 5-of-6 on kicks of 40+ yards, and 2-for-2 on kicks of 50+. Watch out for kick returner DeVon Edwards, who has returned two kickoffs for TDs in 2015, and averages 29.2 yards per return.

How This One Plays Out It’s hard to foresee Virginia’s D holding up against the Duke zone-read offense. Whoever is under center, Sirk or Boehme, is a threat to run and a threat to do damage through the air. The UVA secondary, thin as it is, has had to play soft, giving receivers space at the line of scrimmage to prevent getting beaten deep. Expect Duke to pick that apart, as many Virginia opponents have done in 2015.

Virginia will need to get a ground game going, but it won’t be easy against a Duke D that despite its recent woes still limits foes to 3.3 yards per carry. Inability to get yards on the ground will put the game in the hands of Johns, so which one of him shows up, the four-TD Johns against Louisville, or the four-INT Johns from the UNC game, will determine how effective the offense can be.

How Virginia shows up in terms of emotion, now that another sub-.500 season is guaranteed, is also a key factor. The turnout in Scott Stadium is likely to once again be sparse, probably in the 30,000-35,000 range, and fans will be looking for an excuse to hit the exits if the Cavs fall behind early on what will be a chilly afternoon and cold early evening.

Despite what Vegas seems to think, none of this will work out well for Virginia on Saturday.

Final: Duke 23, Virginia 17

– Preview by Chris Graham


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