By the (Advanced) Numbers: The Duke Boo Devils

The Hokies need to mitigate yards-to-go on third down to avoid obvious passing situations and keep the chains moving.

It's no secret the Blue Devils have taken a step back this season, but recent history has shown Virginia Tech vs. Duke to be close every year. Will the pattern repeat in 2017. Will Duke finally have a breakthrough game. Or will the Hokies assert that they are the class of the Coastal and ensure the Miami game is the de facto division championship?

Where the Season Stands

Virginia Tech is currently 6-1 and has ensured their nation-leading bowl streak (insert asterisk here) will continue. Virginia was dominated by Boston College and is not yet ready to start a bowl streak. The actual and predicted score difference and odds of winning each game are:

The odds of each possible regular season win total are now:

The current projection predicts nearly a 77% chance of the Hokies posting a 10+ win regular season, and an 8.5% chance of running the table the remainder of the regular season.

Rankings and Computer Predictions

The computer rankings and predictions for each team:

Computers nearly universally regard Virginia Tech as a top 25 team, and much better than Duke. The odds of a 16.5-point favorite winning is 87.9%.

Next is a look at any overall offensive or defensive advantages:

The Hokies hold a slight advantage in offensive ability, and a very large advantage in defensive ability.

When Virginia Tech Has the Ball

Here is an explanation of S&P+ ratings, and FEI ratings. All statistics are now opponent-adjusted.

Who has the advantage in the passing and rushing game when the Tech offense has the ball?

Thus far Tech has been much more successful passing than rushing, and yet has struggled significantly in obvious passing situations. Duke is not particularly good at defending either pass or rush, and does equally mediocre whether in standard downs or passing downs.

Offensive and defensive line performance are compared using Football Outsiders' metrics:

Now let's take a look at the FEI personality traits of the Hokie offense versus the Blue Devil defense:

The Duke defense presents a challenge for the Hokies, as the strength of each is 3-and-out drives and turnovers. Tech is good at avoiding 3-and-outs, and Duke's defense is good at producing them. Tech also doesn't turn the ball over much, but the Duke defense creates many turnovers.

The Virginia Tech offense is closest in personality to:

  1. LSU (is that a compliment?)
  2. Miami (I just threw up a little.)
  3. Washington State

The Duke defense is closest in personality to:

  1. Tennessee
  2. Tulane
  3. Colorado State

When Duke Has the Ball

Again, examine pass-run comparisons first:

The Blue Devils are a decent rushing team, but horrid at passing despite having the talented Daniel Jones at quarterback. The Hokies have been excellent at both defending the rush and the pass.

Offensive and defensive line performance are again compared using Football Outsiders' metrics:

As for personality traits:

The only category in which the Blue Devils have been remotely respectable has been avoiding 3-and-outs (first down rate), but the Hokies are among the best in the country at causing them.

The Virginia Tech defense is closest in personality to:

  1. Ohio State
  2. South Florida
  3. Auburn

The Duke offense is closest in personality to:

  1. Kansas
  2. Indiana
  3. Wyoming

Special Teams

First we look at the Hokie's kicking units:

No surprises here: the Hokies have disappointed in kicking field goals but are great at preventing them and at returning kicks, both kickoffs and punts.

When the Blue Devils kick:

The Blue Devils are excellent at kickoffs and kick returns, but the latter should be severely limited by Joey Slye's proficiency at attempting field goals on kickoffs. On the other hand, the Devils are terrible at punt returns.

Who To Watch Out For

Jones is still very talented, but doesn't seem to have the support around him this season to post numbers similar to his fabulous freshman campaign. He completed 270 of 430 passes in 2016 (62.8%) for 16 TDs and 9 INTs. Thus far in 2017, Jones completed 158 of 290 passes (54.5%) for 1,670 yards, 8 TDs, and 6 INTs. However, Duke does have a couple of significant playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.

  1. R-SO LB Joe Giles-Harris is tied No. 2 in the country in tackles for loss with 13.5 and tied No. 11 in the country with 75 tackles (32 solo, 43 assisted).
  2. JR S Jeremy McDuffie is tied No. 3 in the country in passes defended (3 INT, 9 PBU).
  3. SR RB Shaun Wilson is No. 23 in the country in kickoff return average with 25.94 yards per return, but it won't matter because Joey Slye is No. 2 in the country in touchback percentage.

Statistical Key to the Game

The Duke offense has not impressed thus far, while Bud Foster's Lunch Pail Defense is firing on all cylinders. Don't expect the Blue Devils to score many points on offense. However, the Devils' defense is respectable, and can pose some significant challenges if the Hokies allow themselves to get into passing downs where they struggle. Converting on third downs will be critical, and the best way to do that is to avoid significant yardage to go. Therefore, my stat of the game is yards-to-go on third down for the Hokies to prevent obvious passing downs.

Statistical Prediction

I'm genuinely surprised at the big step back the Blue Devils have taken this season and believe they will return to form and respectability. Just not until 2018. The season is deep enough to have a good idea of what a team is made of, and at the moment there is no reason to believe Duke can consistently move the ball on Virginia Tech. I think the offense disappoints a little, but the game doesn't come down to the wire and is put away by the fourth quarter.

Virginia Tech 30, Duke 13

As always a thanks to Football Outsiders, cfbstats.com, and Minitab Statistical Software.

Comments

I think the over/under for this game was 47.5 for this. Do you think that's because of the matchup of strength vs. strength or because someone checked a forecast and realized it's gonna be sloshy?

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I believe this will be our first wet game of the season.

I hope that doesn't mean we do a worse job of taking care of the football.

I certainly wouldn't want to have to disregard an entire game because of the weather.

As long as our non-athlete students are in the weather as well, we'll be fine.

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate, and hetzers gonna hetz

We've fared alright vs North Carolina teams in bad weather

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

If we do it won't be because we haven't practiced it.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

That is a cold and wet ball. Good thinking.

Favorite article every week! Loving the odds of a 10 win season!

Hokies.

Im more than a little concerned by the weather. Not sure what the offense will do if weather conditions limit the passing game. I've stated previously that I only wanted see A.J. in mop up situations, but if there was a time to consider playing him early and often, a day when the passing attack is limited is the time to do it. He seems more polished in managing the mesh point on read options, and is more explosive on the ground.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

The Duke offense is closest in personality to:

Kansas

Ouch.

I remember when we were 6-1 in 2013, ranked #14 and looked like we had steadied the ship after a disastrous 2012 and then proceeded to lose to Duke in Lane. Both teams had 4 turnovers and I'm pretty sure their QB didn't complete a pass the second half but they beat us. And we were wearing all orange. And thus ended the only bright football period in my undergraduate years (except for OSU). The cursed class of 2016.

We're 6-1 now, ranked #13 and facing them again. I want us to pummel them into the basketball season and set up a near Top 10 showdown at Miami. Go Hokies.

Yup. 4 years ago today, actually.

According to my Timehop, we had twice as many yards, more TOP (by 20 minutes!!!), a touchdown called back by a penalty, Duke finished with 198 yards (with 4 INTS) and didn't complete a pass in the 2nd half.

Oh and Cody Journell missed two field goals. We lost by 3.

First game I took my non-Hokie gf to. She's since redeemed herself.

Edit: Additionally, I think I hit peak 'fire frank' walking out.

TOP. πŸ˜’

Ugh. That was probably the worst loss at Lane that I experienced during my time studying there.

Actually no- Miami 2014, ECU 2014, Maryland 2013 (3rd string QB stopped us going to the ACCCG in OT), GT 2014 were all pretty bad too....

WHY DID WE HAVE TO SUCK WHILE I WAS THERE

Regardless, the 2013 defense was national championship calibre. It's a shame our offense fell off a cliff after the Duke game.

You don't really know what suck is - 1992 2-8-1 (and we led in the 4th quarter in a lot of those games).

Yep, remember those days.

HTHokie93

I left just as you -- and Frank Beamer -- were arriving. But I transferred from Georgia Tech. The year before I started, they went 1-9-1. So we showed up as Freshmen thinking we were just in time for the upswing. After all, you can't get much worse. Then, the week before classes started, GT beat Alabama. Yeah, we knew that year was going to be special.

We ended the year 1-10.

"Our job as coaches is to influence young people's lives for the better in terms of fundamental skills, work ethic, and doing the right thing. Every now and again, a player actually has that effect on the coaching staff." Justin Fuente on Sam Rogers

Suck was defined by my era 1988-1992. Got better after I left

Same time I was there.

Duke did not covert a 3rd down that entire game!

We put the K in Kwality

They only converted 4 last night! But the right team won that one.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Oh god, please no

Different head coach, different intensity,. Positive attitude, confidence and effort wins the game. 48-10. Go HOKIES

Ugghhhh....I clearly remember being at the the fall party at my church for that game, checking updates on my phone.

What am I doing this Saturday night?

Yep, you guessed it, fall party at church.

Don't sweat it. My youngest son and I were gifted free tickets by the same person for the 2013 and 2015 games. We went both times. The same person was going to give us the same tickets this year, but we can't make it. So... that may cancel your Fall church party out.

You're welcome.

Leonard. Duh.

You can make it worse by saying it this way...

The Hokies have not beaten the Blue Devils in Lane Stadium since 2012. Five. Years.

If Fuente/Foster are worried that the boys don't have their heads straight this week, they need to plaster that tidbit errrrywhere.

Leonard. Duh.

Well then it's a good thing we have Fuente and Corny this year, huh?

Or, as VT_Football would say

πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰πŸˆπŸˆπŸˆπŸˆπŸ—£οΈπŸ—£οΈπŸ¦ƒπŸ¦ƒπŸ”₯πŸ¦ƒπŸ¦ƒπŸ¦ƒπŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‡πŸŽŠπŸŽ†πŸŽ‡πŸŽ‰πŸŽ–οΈπŸŽ–οΈπŸ˜πŸ˜πŸŸοΈπŸŒ‘οΈπŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

OH GOD. I took the FE that day and couldn't watch.... I'm taking the PE this time around, WHAT HAVE I DONE.

I think I know why Daniel Jones is struggling. Look at that Off Sack Rate! The dogs on the Dline should get fatter this weekend eating up another QB!

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

"The current projection predicts nearly a 77% chance of the Hokies posting a 10+ win regular season, and an 8.5% chance of running the table the remainder of the regular season."

Am I missing something here? The table says there is an 8.5% chance of 12 wins and you indicate an 8.5% chance of running the table. How can VT win 12 games in a 12 game regular season with 1 loss already?

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

ACCCG

TWAshley

No I think it's the bowl game. We're not guaranteed the ACCCG but guaranteed a bowl game so it's calculating win totals based on a 13th game being the bowl game.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

If we win the rest of our games between now and then (which is required to get to the 12th win), we will be guaranteed the ACCCG. Couple of pesky road trips stand in between here and there, though.......1-0 each week......

Oops...you're right. I have a 50% chance of bowl game built in there so take off a half win for regular season. Will update for next week.

Am I missing something here? The table says there is an 8.5% chance of 12 wins and you indicate an 8.5% chance of running the table. How can VT win 12 games in a 12 game regular season with 1 loss already?

Whao - correcting the Numbers Wiz - Does that mean you get to have his badge on your posts for a week? /s

Run to Win. Pass To Score
Josh Jackson on Ricky Walker - β€œβ€œHe is the captain of this team, He’s the leader. He’s the bell cow, the Pail Holder.β€œ

marcb2 all like

Chem PhD '16

I think it's interesting that the Standard down vs Passing down S&P+ splits mirror French's concerns exactly

The Duke offense is closest in personality to:

1. Kansas
2. Indiana
3. Wyoming

Well, I hope Duke doesn't have a top 5 overall NFL draft pick at QB that we need to worry about.