Miami leads the series against Duke 9-2. The series' history really just breaks down to one game though - last year's match-up where Duke ran their way to a victory; a victory that had Duke coming just shy of putting up 50. To be fair, this is not the Duke most remember; they were and still are a good team. They come in 4-0 on the season and have won their last twelve regular season games. That's good for the second longest streak in the nation, that other team in Tallahassee currently holds the longest win streak but they're dumb. You haven't heard of any of the teams they've played so far this season; but Miami is in no place to judge. They looked good against everyone on their schedule outscoring them 83-16 in the second half. Duke was able to rush for a net 358 yards last year against UM, at a clip of 6.9 yards per carry. I don't want to think about what would happen if anything close to that takes place on Saturday.
Duke: Led by Head Coach David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils return an experienced team. They will have seven returning starters on offense and five on defense. For everything you could possibly want to know about Duke, check out Bill Connelly's preview here. Anthony Boone is back at QB this year; but that back up running QB that carved up Miami last year for four TDs - he's gone and can no longer hurt us. It's okay, go ahead, celebrate. Boone will be more than enough to worry about; so far through four games he has a QB Efficiency rating of 133.6 throwing for 876 yards and 7 TDs with a completion percentage of 62.4. He's been running it about five times a game, averaging just under 5 yards a carry. He's by no means the type of threat Miami has faced the last two weeks rushing, but until UM proves otherwise it's something to watch for/be concerned about.
Boone has some talent to help him out in the passing game. Receivers Jamison Crowder and Max McCaffery both have 20 or more catches so far this year (with 2 TDs a piece). Crowder is as good a WR as you will find in the ACC, with 296 yards receiving. At 13 yards a reception, he's not an all or nothing receiver like Nebraska's guys last week who averaged 20 plus a catch, but he can do it all. You should be pretty familiar with him - in 2012 he put up a career high 203 yards receiving against UM. That 99 yard TD - that was him. His impact last year wasn't quite as great, mainly because Miami was giving up just about 7 yards a carry so why bother throwing it.
McCaffery has come along nicely this season. With Crowder coming in at 5-9, McCaffery adds some height standing 6-2. He's pulled in 20 catches so far this season; not bad considering he only has 28 receptions in his two prior seasons with the team. He has 200 yards so far, averaging 10 yards a catch. With all the attention Crowder demands, UM will need to make sure McCaffery doesn't go unchecked.
Duke comes in rushing for 260 yards a game, 22nd in the nation. Miami has been terrible against the run. There was talk this week about Miami adjusting their defense to combat this problem. I guess we will see. Duke has a pretty crowded back field, with five backs having 20 or more carries. Shaun Wilson leads the pack - he has 28 attempts for 404 yards. Yeah, that's a 14.4 yards per carry average, awesome. Josh Snead will also see time in the back field for Duke; he had his way with Miami last year going for 138 yards on 9 attempts. Bottom line is that Duke can run and Miami needs to stop it. If not, this game (and season for that matter) will be a very long and frustrating one.
Duke's defense comes in ranked 45th overall, giving up 182 yards a game rushing and 170 passing. Miami though, will be by far the most talented group they have faced this season. The Duke D has an impressive 6 INTs coming into this week, 2 of which were taken back for TDs. They run a 4-2-5 defense partially because all of the talent they have talent in the secondary, and partially because they don't have a ton of talent up front. DeVon Edwards has been a busy defensive back with 2 forced fumbles, 4 pass break ups, 1 Int, and 1 sack, all while being second on the team in tackles. Miami looked good on offense last week, but if the Blue Devils can put up points on offense, it will force UM to rely once again on true freshman Brad Kaaya. Which will have Duke looking to add on to their interception total.
Miami: Lost in the defensive debacle last week was the fact UM has a pretty damn good QB. Brad Kaaya didn't seem too phased by the large road crowd as he spread the ball around to his playmakers. There will be ups and downs, but as long as Kaaya doesn't get to comfortable with the ability of his arm (we all know who I'm talking about), he should do well at home. Stacy Coley is due for a break out game; it's been two weeks since he sat out due to shoulder issues so he should be close to being fully healthy. As Kaaya feels more comfortable, he's seeing more of the field and is able to get more of the talent around him involved. Hopefully this week Coley will see some passes that aren't screens. Getting Phillip Dorsett involved early as well will help the offense get going. Good things happen when Dorsett is active; plus it pulls the defense back, which will give space for Duke Johnson to do his thing. His involvement in the pass game this year has been fun. It's also helped move the chains, which keeps the defense off the field.
Miami had a pretty good night rushing against Nebraska - as good a performance as I've seen lately against quality opponents. They will need to keep it up this week against Duke. EightBall and AJG (boom, finally used it!) Duke (and Al Golden) will need to help Kaaya out more going through ACC play. It's great that he can throw for over 300 yards when needed, but hopefully the running game can take some games over so he doesn't need to. Johnson didn't play in last year's match up with Duke; Dallas Crawford did and went for over 100 - but when Miami really needed to get a first down the run wasn't there. Miami will need Johnson as well as Gus Edwards to have big games and to help play keep away from a good Duke offense.
I have zero idea what to expect from Miami's defense. Not playing against Ameer Abdullah is going to make them look better. There's more talent; it may be young but it's there. After the backlash from last week, you would figure a spirited effort - though a totally flat performance wouldn't shock me either. The coaching staff spoke this week about changes to personnel and philosophy. I'm not sure how much gets done in one week against a capable offense, but I guess we will see. It's a conference game so while Miami's two early season losses hurt they can begin to salvage the season with a Coastal win this week.
Prediction: UM 34 Duke 30 For as bad as last weeks defensive effort was, Miami kept things close. This week if they hold on to the ball I think they can outscore Duke.
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