The most intriguing numbers to come out of Duke’s week 9 loss to Virgina Tech:
Ball security undermined the Blue Devils chances at a upset in Saturday’s thriller against No. 12 Virginia Tech. Duke coughed up the football four times, the most in a game this season. Sean Renfree’s three interceptions doubled his season total, while Juwan Thompson added a fumble. The Blue Devils had just nine turnovers in the previous seven games.
Will Snyderwine’s yips returned last week, as the Duke kicker managed to go just 1-for-4 kicking field goals—though one was a 57-yard attempt. Snyderwine’s most notable miss was a 29-yard kick early in the fourth quarter, keeping the Hokie lead at four rather than one. On a later Duke drive, Coach Cutcliffe had to go for it on fourth and two rather than kick a 34-yard field goal. Adding insult to injury, at halftime a fan drilled a 25 yarder, one that certainly had the distance to travel the extra four yards separating the lengths of the fan and Snyderwine’s kicks.
On Duke’s first scoring drive, the Blue Devils were aided by 45 Hokie penalty yards. The offense moved just 35 yards without the help of penalties. Virginia Tech surrendered a total of 94 yards on nine penalties over the course of the game, while the Blue Devils had just 15 penalty yards on three infractions.
For the first time this season, the Blue Devils struggled throwing the football. Duke recorded just 19 completions on 40 passes, resulting in a 47.5% completion rate, the lowest of the season. Sean Renfree went 17-for-35 and Anthony Boone was equally unsuccessful, going 2-for-5. The last time the Blue Devils completed less than 50% of their passes was last season against these same Virginia Tech Hokies, where Sean Renfree and Brandon Connette combined to complete just 12 of 36 passes.
The Duke defense had a remarkable performance against the Hokies. Matt Daniels spectacular performance, including two interceptions and 13 tackles, helped hold the Hokies to 14 points, the lowest point total for a Duke opponent this season. The last time a Duke defense held a ranked team under 20 points was back in 1989, where the Blue Devils upset No. 7 Clemson 21-17. What’s more, 14 is the lowest point total allowed to a ranked team since the 1972 season, where the Blue Devils held No. 16 North Carolina to 14, No. 19 Stanford to 10, and No. 12 Washington to 14. Duke ended up losing all three of those games, scoring just 12 points of their own in the three contests combined.