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Miami Hurricanes Schedule Preview: Duke

As part of the dwindling offseason, SOTU will preview each game on the Canes' schedule. During the season there will be much more in-depth previews the week before each game, but these will serve to get you ready for what is to come. Enjoy!

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Duke a Football School and Miami a Basketball School?!?!

Well not quite... Although the Hurricanes did rather convincingly defeat the eventual National Champion Devils in Cameron on the hardwood in the regular season this past year, (During the Larranaga Era they are actually 3-2 Vs Coach K and Co.) and Duke did trash UM two years back on the gridiron.

But the folks in Durham are not going to forget hoops anytime soon, just as in Coral Gables football will always come first.

But you get the point.

And to that point, David Cutcliffe has started to build something special around a program that was once an ACC doormat.  The Blue Devils are 19-8 over the past two seasons, including an ACC Coastal Crown in 2013.

They've done it by playing smart, efficient football.  But the talent  has improved as well.

And they return 15 starters in 2015.

However they do have to replace their starting QB Anthony Boone, and their best play maker in WR Jamison Crowder.

Nonetheless with Cutcliffe at the helm, a promising running game, and what should be one of the better special teams units in the conference,  Duke can not be dismissed as a potential surprise contender for a division title yet again.

A win Vs the Devils is certainly not a foregone conclusion, just as beating Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan, and Tonye Jekiri on the hardwood will be a challenge for Duke come Hoops season.

Series History

UM owns a convincing 10-2 advantage.

But the 48-30 whooping Duke put on the 'Canes just two years back, still smarts.

Last season, a much more physical Hurricanes team controlled the action in a convincing 22-10 win in a driving rain storm at Sun Life Stadium.

Brad Kaaya connected on two big time TD passes to Herb Waters and Joe Yearby to spark the offense,

Players to Watch

6'4 215 pound Thomas Sirk is the favorite to succeed Boone at QB for Cutcliffe's squad.

Sirk appeared to be more comfortable as a runner than a passer last season in limited duty.  Look for Duke as a whole to go to the ground often with powerful Shaquille Powell and speedy Shaun Wilson back at RB. They will also have 5'10 200 pound Jela Duncan back, after missing all of last year with academic issues.

Duncan could be the best of the bunch.  UM's LB corps of Raphael Kirby, Juwon Young, and Jermaine Grace will be tested on October 31st.

The Devils have some experience back at WR in Max McCaffery and Johnell Barnes.  But again look for them to be a ground oriented attack.

On defense, their strength will be in defending the pass, as Devon Edwards and Jeremy Cash return.

Both are safeties who can get back in coverage (16 combined PBUs)  but also love to stick their nose in against the run (amazing 194 tackles combined).

They need to make a lot of plays against the run as Duke's front 7 plays a bend but don't break style of D.

A healthy Kelby Brown at LB should improve that group some.

But UM's stable of backs, including Joe Yearby, Gus Edwards, and freshman Mark Walton should find plenty of room to run behind stalwarts Nick Linder and Danny Isidora.

If the game comes down to ST, advantage Duke.

They do a great job of finding edges in field position.   Punter Will Monday is very good, and PK Ross Martin was reliable.

Overall Impression

Player for player, The Hurricanes should be the better team.

Kaaya gives them a huge advantage at the QB position.

But this game is on the road, and Duke has shown the ability to beat teams that are better than them the past two seasons.

The key for the 'Canes will be to play smart, assignment football but also be the much more physical team at the point of attack.

Tackles for loss will also be important.  Keeping the Blue Devils in unfavorable down and distances will force them out of their run first comfort zone.  And that could lead to turnovers.

If UM takes care of the ball, and doesn't find itself fooled with misdirection type plays they should control the action and come up with a key division win.