My player to watch this week is Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum.
The Hokies’ cornerback is going to be tested against Duke’s passing game -- especially if the Blue Devils paid any attention to the Cincinnati game film. Exum had a rough outing against the Bearcats two weeks ago when he was flagged four times, twice for a facemask and twice for pass interference. He had a much better performance, though, against North Carolina last weekend and was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day for the defense.
Exum had four tackles and two pass breakups against UNC. He enters the Duke game tied for fifth in the ACC in passes defended with seven (five breakups and two interceptions). Duke is tied for fourth in the ACC in scoring offense (37.8 points per game) and fifth in the ACC in passing offense (288.7 yards per game). Coach David Cutcliffe hasn’t said this week whether starting quarterback Sean Renfree (elbow) will be play, or if Anthony Boone will get his second career start.
Exum will be prepared for both.
His performance against UNC last week was an impressive rebound, considering the criticism he faced earlier in the season. Some doubted whether the move from safety to corner was the right one for Exum.
He has taken it upon himself to prove both his critics -- and his team’s naysayers -- wrong.
“Guys are angry that we’re not performing as well as we should,” he told the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s student newspaper. “We’re losing games. Kind of down and disappointed. But I think it’s my job -- as well as a couple others -- to be a leader, to stay upbeat, to stay confident and let the guys know that this isn’t the end.”