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October 12, 2012

Stock Watch: Duke Game Trends

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Concern grows as Duke travels to Virginia Tech as underdogs. The line has been around -10 for Virginia Tech. It's an insult, frankly, based on how both of these two teams are playing. Can the Blue Devils get to 3-0 in the ACC? Will the Hokies bounce back? Here are the ups and downs of the stock watch for this week.

STOCK UP

WR Demitri Knowles, Virginia Tech

The redshirt freshman had his breakout game in the 48-34 loss to North Carolina last Saturday, catching six balls for 83 yards, while also returning a kickoff 93 yards for a score. With so many receivers dropping balls, Knowles has been pretty solid and may have earned more reps moving forward.

For the speedster, there is still a lot of room to improve, but for a freshman, he has looked very solid. Expect Logan Thomas to look for him several times in Saturday's ACC battle.


QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

Yes, it's nearly the middle of October, and fans are still waiting for Thomas to fully arrive. A slow, vanilla offense has plagued the team so far this season. Combined with a defense that hasn't played consistent, more pressure is on Thomas now to get things rolling.

Against the Tar Heels, he set career highs in completions, attempts and yards, and against a worse defense this weekend, he could have a similar performance. While he has what it takes to get the victory, will the players around him show up?

Thomas has really suffered from drops, which in turn, is making him look average, and while he has remained calm, this team just can't afford to lose this one or the chances of getting to a bowl game may leave town with Duke.


WR Conner Vernon, Duke

Now the all-time receptions king in ACC, Vernon entered legendary status at the Tobacco Road school with the record. With 239 receptions, he is always the main target of the quarterback.

Vernon has 17 career receiving touchdowns and could have a huge day on Saturday. Expect a big day from him with plenty of shots deep while also being targeted on most third downs. He has gotten better each year and with each game, scoring two touchdowns on seven catches for 93 yards in the blowout win over Virginia. There may not be a more consistent player in the conference.

STOCK DOWN

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Virginia Tech

Can't help but feel for Foster, who is the coach that brings the most passion among Frank Beamer's assistants. This team has just been under-performing and is over-hyped. There isn't much he can really change, it's all about execution.

Foster will have his guys hungry, but will that be enough? You are not going to beat anybody if you can't stop anybody. It will be interesting to see if there are any changes in the lineup with positions to try and get this defense back on track.


RB Michael Holmes, Virginia Tech

He had a huge fumble against UNC and finished with eight carries for 19 yards. He isn't Ryan Williams, so perhaps many of us were expecting too much from him. With a weak offensive line and an inconsistent passing game, there is no surprise that he is struggling.

Different types of runs may be in store, perhaps more pitches, more options. He hasn't had his breakout game yet, with his career high being 60 two weeks ago against Cincinnati. The Blue Devils have one of the top rush defenses in the conference, so he will again be tested this weekend.


QB Sean Renfree, Duke

After missing last week's game with an injury, the senior gunslinger is probable for this one. He has completed over 70 percent of his passes in each game this season but held onto the ball too much against Wake Forest in his last action.

Renfree has never thrown a touchdown against Tech, with four interceptions, so this match-up doesn't bode well based on history. How his elbow is will be key. He has the receivers around him to do damage, so can he make a mark against the Hokies for the first time ever?


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