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Game Preview - Miami at Duke: Stemming the tide

This week Miami finds themselves at a crossroad - as they travel back up to North Carolina - this time to Durham, to face a dangerous Duke team. Nope, this isn't a basketball preview and this is not your older brothers'/sisters' Duke team. Will Miami's run game get back on track? Will the defense come together after a rough game last week? Will the final score be under 100 points?

Congrats to new father D.P. and RIP to the poor kid 18 years from now that tries to date his daughter
Congrats to new father D.P. and RIP to the poor kid 18 years from now that tries to date his daughter
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

History: Miami leads the all time series 9-1. The single Duke win came in 1976  - the first ever match-up between the two. Miami routed Duke in 1983, and that was the last time the teams faced off until they made it a yearly affair in 2005. Most have always viewed Duke football the same way they have viewed Miami basketball: participants. Miami has outscored Duke by an average of 17.9 points per game, and have scored 49 or more points in half of them. Chalk it up to hormones in food, or maybe global warming; but Duke gave UM everything they could handle and more in last season's 52-45 finale. Miami comes into the game limping - losers of two straight, while Duke is riding a five game winning streak. Both teams are 7-2 with their two losses coming in ACC play; so this weekend is a must-win for both if they want to cling to any hope of reaching the ACCCG.

This year Duke has put up similar stats as Miami. Both teams pass 60% of the time, with Duke passing for almost 2,220 yards, while MIami has just over 2,400 yards. Rushing - Miami has 1,614 yards this season, while Duke has gained 1,493 yards. Miami's offensive scoring average is 35 points per game, while Duke's is 33.4. Miami defensively gives up 23 PPG, while Duke gives up 22.2.

Duke: Outside of FSU, the teams Miami has faced this season have either been run or pass reliant (statistically speaking). Duke has a far better combination coming into this weekend. Duke has two QBs that have seen substantial time due to injury. Backup Brandon Connette has played in 8 games so far this season with a 63.4 completion percentage. He's thrown for 1,128 yards, 12 TDS and 6INTS. Their starting QB is Anthony Boone. He has played in 6 games this year and has a 62.3 completion percentage. He has thrown for 1,061 yards and 5TDS, but has also thrown 9INTS. Boone has been in two less games due to a broken collar bone. The issue has been interceptions. Boone threw 4INTS against VT, and 3 more before getting pulled the following week against NCST. Boone should get the nod against Miami, but don't be surprised to see both QBs during the course of the game.

Whichever QB is in will be looking toward Jamison Crowder. The 5-9/175lb junior WR has 67 receptions for 903 yards and 3 TDS. He accounts for just under the total number of catches from the next three leading receivers combined. Yardage-wise he has about the same as the next four combined. While Crowder receives the lion's share of the yards and receptions, Duke does share the wealth when it comes to TDs. Two players have 4 each - one of those being 6 foot 6 inch 235 pound WR Issac Blakeney. He has only 13 receptions this year, which makes his 4 TDs incredible; the longest he's gone without a TD has been 5 catches. If Duke gets near the red zone, assume a pass is heading his way.

Rushing is done by committee. Their  leading rusher is Jela Duncan, who has 75 carries for 387 yards and 3TDs. Josh Snead has 59 carries for 342 yards and backup QB Connette has 79 carries for 283 yards and 8 TDs. Duke has four running backs that average at least 5 yards on 30 or more attempts. While both Qbs will run the ball, Boone has half the attempts as Connette - but they do have 12 rushing TDs between them.

Defensively Duke is about the middle of the pack - just a few spots behind Miami in overall defense. While nowhere near the level of the last two weeks' defenses of FSU and VT, the Duke defense is coming off a great performance against NCST last week, where they had two interceptions returned for touchdowns on consecutive plays. They defend the pass a bit better than the run - giving up about 220 yards a game passing and about 170 rushing. They held VT to 10 points, despite their offense turning the ball over four times. They made up for the turnovers by picking Logan Thomas off 4 times; and limiting VT into going 4-18 on third downs.

Miami: Miami comes in limping after two consecutive tough losses in ACC play. The feeling around the team is much different than the one that was leading into a top 10 match up between two undefeated teams a few weeks ago. Miami now stands at a crossroads of where this season may lead. Another loss, and the wheels may completely fall off. People won't care that this is a respectable Duke team facing a UM team at way less than full strength. While needing help, UM is still in the mix for a potential shot at the ACCCG... a loss destroys that hope. A win energizes the team. The VT loss will magically become a "galvanizing" event that propels the team forward. Faith will return for a team that only has 2 losses after all; and everyone will be waiting for the teams ahead of them in the Coastal to slip up.

Miami isn't quite the same on offense without Dorsett and Johnson. But the cupboard isn't exactly bare either. Someone needs to emerge at RB. Dallas has proven himself in the past, but didn't have a great game last week. VT has an elite defense that can shut down the best of em', so this week will be more of an accurate showing of what life without Duke is going to be like. Gus Edwards showed that he has improved from his not quite ready for prime time performance against UNC a few weeks ago. In a huge game against a defense that is as good as any, he had a few good runs and seemed to be figuring out who he is as a runner. Another week of increased reps in practice, combined with the game experience and film to learn from, and it should be a good week for Gus. I personally was surprised Eduardo Clements wasn't used more last week, so it will be interesting to see which backs will be used in what role this week.

Morris looked ok during the game last week. Facing the number one pass defense, Miami was able to connect on a few different big plays. There were a few dropped passes, but I think we are all still waiting for a Stephen Morris signature game this season. The combination of Morris to Hurns has become the most reliable. Waters got involved last week with some mixed results, but will need to move past it. Duke has shown that they have some ball hawks in the secondary, so UM will need to be able to spread the ball around and keep them guessing. Hopefully the run game is working so that the play action can be effective. With Coley's speed and ability to make plays in space, I liked seeing him used in the screen last week. It resulted in a 84 yard TD, so I don't think I'm alone.

Defense... The defense has taken a beating this past week. They were put in a ton of bad positions due to the three special team turnovers. It was the few third and longs that they gave up that killed them though. Re-watching the game it hurt. It was filled with odd events that if you ran through again 1000 times would not happen again. Sure there were mistakes, but sometimes that's just how it goes. Hopefully something good grows  from that game. At least publicly the players seem to be fully behind the coaches. Duke has a potent offense... much better than the VT offense that UM had trouble with. Miami needs to be able to create turnovers and pressure the quarterback. Both have been missing in the two losses.

Players to Watch: For Duke: it's WR Jamison Crowder. Miami hasn't done a great job slowing down other teams' primary weapons. It doesn't matter if it's through pass rush or triple teams, Miami cannot afford to let Crowder get rolling. Duke has a running game, so they can't let Crowder convert third downs that will keep the defense on the field; and wear them out so they cannot stop the run in the second half. On defense, it's Devon Edwards. As a redshirt freshman, he was suppose to just battle for some playing time - compete. Coming off a 10 TT 1PBU 2INT(for touchdowns) performance in which he also had a 100 yard kick return for a TD, it seems he has found his place. Some players can just do great things. Hopefully for UM he's still tired from last week.

Players to Watch: For UM: it's Dallas Crawford. Miami will need Stephen Morris, but Morris will need Dallas to take some of the pressure away from the pass game. Duke isn't a terrible run defense but they aren't great either. Dallas will need to perform like he did last time he was in North Carolina. Let Dallas and the big men up front start wearing down the Duke defensive front, so that when it's time, Morris will have time to connect on his shots down the field. On Defense it's got to be Tyriq Mccord making an impact again. The past few weeks he's been quiet, and while he has limited snaps, the line as a whole needs to make a bettter push. That way when McCord does come in, the Oline can't just worry about hiim and double team or push all the protection his way. Denzel Perryman Is a new father as of this week, so his teammates are gonna have to help pick up the slack. Though a cranky sleep deprived Prez may be fun to watch.

Should You Worry? Normally with Duke I'd say kick back and enjoy. Not this year though. I for some reason think that the VT loss will spark something in MIami, and we will see what we've been waiting to see most of the year. But, until they show that, all we have to go on is the prior games; and that suggests major worry. VT last week had an offense that ranked in the 100's  and they moved the ball up and down the field - no problem. I don't think Miami turns the ball over 3 times, but I don't think the Duke offense needs 3 turnovers to win. If UM can put points on the board, I think it things will work out okay - but it will be close.

Prediction: UM 35 Duke 27



Phillip Dorsett – Lower Extremity


Alex Figueroa – Upper Extremity

Danny Isidora – Lower Extremity

Surgery/Out for the Season:

Hunter Knighton – Upper Extremity

Randy "Duke" Johnson – Lower Extremity

ESPNU • Anish Shroff, Play-by-PlayKelly Stouffer, Analyst

WQAM 560 AM • Joe Zagacki, PXPDon Bailey Jr., AnalystJosh Darrow, Sideline Reporter

RADIO CARACOL 1260 AM • Roly Martin, PXPPepe Campos, AnalystJoe Martinez, Analyst

SATELLITE RADIO • Sirius 137XM 195 (Duke Broadcast)