What Duke did Saturday was not new; rather, it was merely the latest instance of the Air That Sumbitch Out strategy being used to great effect against the NC State defense. Before Lewis, there was Riley Skinner. Before Skinner, Mike Teel. And before Teel, of course, there was Chris Crane.
Last season, Boston College took a cue from South Florida's game plan and decided that they too would make a point of exploiting the Pack through the air. This seemed a great idea to me at the time, what with the way the Eagles appeared to be so openly inviting disaster. To that point in the 2008 season, the Eagles had struggled to find any sort of passing game, even against the likes of Kent State, Central Florida, and Rhode Island. Y'all bring that shit on, I thought. (As it turned out, it was similar to that time in '04 when I screamed at Devin Hester to bring that shit on; his response was to teleport from one end zone to the other.)
True to their word, the Eagles fired away. The surprising part was how incredibly successful they were. Their impenetrable offensive line gave Crane all sorts of time and opportunities, and for the most part he did not miss. And so: season-highs in attempts, completions, completion percentage, yards, yards per attempt, and passing efficiency were set.
Which is not to say the Eagles will throw the ball 50 times on Saturday, but just as they no doubt saw what Duke did last week, they no doubt remember what they themselves did last year.
Their passing game has been up-and-down (to put it mildly) in conference play so far--good against bad defenses (Wake, FSU), terrible against good defenses (Clemson, VT). Those performances against Clemson and Tech are evidence enough that if you can get Shinskie and his various backups out of their comfort zones, they will crack. I suppose we might manage to do that somehow. But my money is on The Shinskieing.