Virginia Football Schedule Preview: Duke

Virginia
Antonio Clary and the Hoos head to Duke to start October. ~ Photo by Kris Wright/TheSabre.com

In week five, the Virginia football team will be on the road for the second straight game, this time in North Carolina to face Duke on Saturday, Oct. 1. After three non-conference opponents followed by a trip to Syracuse, UVA will head to Durham for their second of eight ACC opponents in 2022. Last season the Hoos hosted the Blue Devils at Scott Stadium and cruised to a 48-0 win.

Now, it’s time to take a closer look at the 2022 Devils and how they expect to stack up against coach Tony Elliott’s squad. Check out other Sabre schedule previews here.

Duke Blue Devils

  • Saturday, Oct. 1 – Time: TBD
  • Wallace Wade Stadium – Durham, NC (natural grass)
  • 2021 Record: 3-9 (0-8 ACC)
  • Coach: Mike Elko, 1st season
  • Last Bowl Game Appearance: 2018 Independence Bowl, Won 56-27 vs. Temple
  • Key Returning Players:
    • WR Jalon Calhoun – 2nd leading receiver in 2021 with 718 yards and 3 TDs on 56 receptions; only returning receiver from 2021 to catch more than 30 passes and surpass 260 receiving yards.
    • LB Shaka Heyward – Third Team All-ACC Defense; leading tackler in 2021 with 98 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks.
    • DL DeWayne Carter – Third Team All-ACC Defense; 2nd most sacks on team in 2021 with 4.5; 36 total tackles, 7.5 for loss.
    • OL Jacob Monk – All-ACC Honorable Mention.
    • DB/SP Jaylen Stinson – All-ACC Honorable Mention (special teams); 43 tackles.

What To Expect On Game Day

What’s To Like: New coach Mike Elko was the defensive coordinator of a Texas A&M defense that allowed the third fewest points in the country last season. He had one of the better non-head coach jobs in college football and was being paid exceptionally well in that role. Thus, Elko was on the higher end of the list of coordinators looking for a promotion, and luckily for the Blue Devils he opted to take over the reins in Durham. Duke allowed the second most points per game among Power 5 conference teams last season, and the hope will be that Elko will provide immediate help on that side of the ball.

The Blue Devils also return a significant amount of their production last season on the offensive line and defense. 80% of their O-Line production returns in 2022 along with 70% of their tackle and sack production. Four All-ACC honorees are among the group returning with one on the O-Line and three on the defensive side of the ball. Duke also adds a former All-Big 12 honoree in defensive back Datrone Young, a transfer from Iowa State.

What’s Not To Like: The Blue Devils were one of the very worst teams in the country last year as they won just three games and went winless in the ACC. The team’s most productive player from last year, RB Mataeo Durant, is in the NFL now after earning First Team All-ACC honors. Durant was the only Duke running back to carry the ball more than 50 times last season as he accounted for 1,241 yards and 9 touchdowns on 255 carries. The Blue Devils also start fresh at the quarterback position because last year’s starter, Gunnar Holmberg, transferred to Florida International for his two remaining years of eligibility.

Even with the optimism of a new head coach after a couple of disappointing seasons, Duke will likely deal with some bumps along the way just from operating in a new system. The offense was functional last year, but the starting quarterback, the starting running back, and the best wide receiver are all no longer on the roster meaning the offense will look almost entirely different in terms of personnel and system. The quarterback position will be one of two inexperienced sophomores, Riley Leonard or Jordan Moore, neither of whom saw extensive time on the field last season.

A

...