Nick’s Keys to the Game: Duke

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There is no doubting that Duke is a little short on the talent side, but for whatever reason the Blue Devils have always been a thorn in the side of the Wahoos. Every year, I go in expecting an easy win, and usually I watch in stress and come away generally annoyed by the game. The Cavaliers just don’t ever seem to get up for the game. Incidentally, this has been the problem in both the UVa games so far this season.

As far as keys to winning this game, they are much more about what Virginia needs to do (and not do) than they are about the threat that Duke poses. There are some keys to this game that, if executed, will help us all enjoy Homecoming weekend with a win and a 1-0 start to the conference schedule.

Offense

1) Take care of the football

Marques Hagans must cut down on interceptions.

Virginia has now played two games that only ended up being close because of Cavalier turnovers. A Western Michigan interception return for a TD turned a likely blowout win into a nerve-wracking opener and 3 INTs by Marques Hagans made the Syracuse game a lot closer than it should have been. I’m not too surprised by the initial sloppy play as the season is still young, but starting with this game it’s time for the silly mistakes to stop. Granted, two of the picks against Syracuse were not entirely Hagans’ fault, with Tom Santi dropping a TD into the hands of the defender and Deyon Williams falling down on the fly pattern. But the third INT was thrown right to Syracuse. Whatever the reasons, three unforced interceptions are not going to get it done against better competition.

Against a completely inferior team like Duke, it’s important to dominate early, get the snowball rolling, and not let the Devils off the hook by turning the ball over. The running backs did a much better job of holding onto the football against Syracuse, which I’m sure was a major point of emphasis in practice. This week I think the ‘Hoos should script

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