After a nine month hiatus, all signs are pointing to Antone Exum’s return this Saturday against the Duke Blue Devils at Lane Stadium.
But is the “Daycare” open for real this time?
“I think so. That’s how I’m preparing,” said senior cornerback Antone Exum. “That’s my mind set and it’s looking good right now for me to be out there Saturday.”
It’s not just Exum saying that he’ll be out there this week; it’s the coaches as well.
“I’m pretty positive (Antone) Exum is going to go,” said defensive back Coach Torian Gray. “I know he feels excited. He’s going to start the game, and we’ll evaluate him from there. But he’s definitely prepared mentally and physically to start the game.”
Exum’s potential return comes after the Hokies’ secondary had a solid but not so glamorous performance against the Pittsburgh Panthers two weeks ago.
The Hokies gave up 187 yards through the air to senior quarterback Tom Savage, who completed 13 of his 29 passes on the day. The Panthers passing attack averaged 14.4 yards per completion and had some success taking shots downfield, with wide receiver Devin Street catching passes of 33 and 48 yards.
Overall, Tech gave up no touchdowns through the air but failed to record an interception in a game for the first time this season.
Meanwhile, Duke brings the 34th ranked offense and 30th ranked passing offense, which averages 269.4 yards per game.
The Blue Devils can start either Brandon Connette, who is working to return from injury or Anthony Boone at quarterback, as they have recorded similar statistics and both have made quite the impact.
“They’re the most efficient offense since Alabama,” said head coach Frank Beamer. “They’ve got talent and they’re well coached.”
At 5-2, Duke proves once again to not be the guaranteed win like it's been in past years. In last season’s game, the Hokies were down 20-0 in the first quarter before scoring 41 unanswered points to come away with the win.
“We don’t think we played well, so we definitely have to come out stronger this year,” said cornerback Kyle Fuller.
The Hokies’ passing defense currently ranks third in the nation, as it's giving up only 165.0 yards per game and is also tied for third in interceptions with 13 on the season.
Of those 13, redshirt freshman cornerback Brandon Facyson has accounted for four of them.
Unfortunately, Facyson suffered a concussion at practice earlier this week. Apparently, the concussion came after hitting his head on the ground during pass skeleton drills and being tackled after an interception.
If he’s not able to play against Duke, the young cornerback isn’t too worried about how that’ll affect the team.