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That Second Bye Week May Be Replaced with a Game

The big hubbub over at the N&O at the moment is Duke's defense, which has merited three separate mentions in the last few days. The 0-5 Blue Devils have the 25th best defense in the country, and although it hasn't got them a win yet, one has to start wondering if that would change if they played an opponent who, and I'm just tossing out a hypothetical here, gave up 42 points to Furman. And if the Duke offense picks up - they tripled their season touchdown total against Alabama last Saturday - UNC could be kissing the baby blue bell goodbye.

And yet, I'm not quite worried. The secret to Duke's defensive resurgence can be found in the Virginia game, a game the Wahoos won 37-0. And yes, this is the same Virginia team that was quite handily beaten down by East Carolina a week later. Virginia got its 37 points in Durham off of only 258 total yards. Why? Because their scoring drives started on the Duke 27, the Duke 29, the Duke 1, the Duke 8, and the Duke 46. (They also had a touchdown where the offense didn't even get to take the field. Call that starting from the Duke endzone.)

The Virginia Tech and Alabama games tell similar stories - a lot of drives starting within spitting distance of midfield or closer. Throw in the one good defensive performance, against a Wake Forest team trying to find their feet in their first game with a freshman quarterback and a futile Richmond squad, and the Blue Devil defense puts up some reasonably impressive numbers. Now there may still be trouble when these not-so defensive titans meet UNC's tissue paper offense, but I'm not ready to quake in fear of an impregnable line just yet. Remember:

The reason Duke gives such little yardage is that other teams don't have to go far to score.

It's like playing strip poker in your underwear. You won't lose many hands, but you'll soon be naked all the same.