The Virginia Tech Hokies return home to host the Duke Blue Devils this Saturday in a matchup that presents reversed roles for each team.
The Blue Devils come into the game riding a four-game winning streak, which has them at the top of the Coastal Division, along with Miami, and one game away from bowl eligibility; meanwhile the Hokies find themselves in the bottom half of the division, having dropped three of their last four games.
Head coach Frank Beamer is expecting a fight from the Blue Devils, as three of their last four meetings have been decided by 11 points or less — including last year, when Tech scraped by with a 14-10 victory in Durham.
“This team we’re getting ready to play is an extremely well-coached football team, 5-1,” Beamer said. “They’ve got some votes in the polls, they’ve done a great job. … I have a lot of respect for this team and how well they play.”
This week, the Hokies are focusing on getting back to the basics and putting together a complete package for Duke.
“I think we want to get it right,” Beamer said. “We realize we haven’t put a complete game together. Last week, you look at every area of our football team and we play well at times, we just need to put it together. We’ve got the capability and that’s it. But it’s taking each play and taking care of the details on each play.”
The offense is dealing with a few changes this week with fullback Riley Beiro out for the remainder of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery; consequently, running back Martin Scales will have to pick up some reps at fullback. Tackle Laurence Gibson will also be moving over to guard to provide some depth in light of David Wang’s injury.
These changes bring additional challenges for Tech’s already-struggling ground gameas Duke brings a stingy run defense which only allowed two net rushing yards and zero points in the second half in last week’s game against UVa.
Despite the setbacks, running backs coach Shane Beamer still has confidence in the ground game.