10 Things I Learned 2011 … Duke

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Oday Aboushi and the Hoos snapped a three-game losing streak against Duke.

As we said last week, this was Duke week, crazy as that sounds to say. Now, Duke is in the rearview mirror, both this season and in the standings … which is as it should be. Breaking this game down is going to be a pleasure.

1. Righting The Ship. A couple years ago, I was struck by how emotional it was for many graduating Army football players that they would take with them a legacy of having never beat Navy during their four years on the football field. Granted, graduating from UVa without having ever beating Duke would not be quite the same thing, but I can assure you that it certainly was not a part of the legacy that this year’s graduating players wanted to take with them.

Fortunately, that will not be a worry for those players now.

All week, I had the feeling that the Duke game might be a little squirrelly in the first half – which it was – but that this Virginia team simply was not going to let itself lose to Duke again. Despite David Cutcliffe’s comments to the contrary after the game, this UVa team did in fact win the game.

Virginia certainly had its bumps along the way, but it also executed aspects of its game beautifully. From a broad perspective, for example, part of the defensive plan was to make the Duke offense one-dimensional by taking the running game out of the equation, which UVa accomplished. After giving up 230 yards rushing last year on 5.1 yards per rush, the Cavalier defense this year held Duke to a pitiful 1.2 yards per carry average and 34 rushing yards in total. From a narrower perspective, on the other hand, UVa was able to capitalize on several plays where it took advantages of looks it expected to get from Duke, as was the case on Chase Minnifield ‘s second half pick six (more on that below).

On offense, the game plan was executed nicely as well. Not stupendously, I grant you, but nicely. As detailed by Kris Wright in his Sunday Sampler, Michael