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Film Preview: Duke at Miami

The Blue Devils head to Miami Gardens to face the Hurricanes

Army v Duke Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

David Cutcliffe and Mark Richt have a lot in common. They’re both offensive minded, quarterback coaches, who are former SEC head football coaches. They’re both struggling ACC head football coaches in 2018. They’ve also both choked against the Pitt Panthers in the past two years.

Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils have overachieved since he was named the head coach at Duke but they’ve struggled over the past three seasons. Duke could Glen Mason Cutcliffe this off-season but hopefully that doesn’t happen. Richt has kept Miami’s head above ground but after dropping back-to-back games to Virginia and Boston College he’s under fire from fans that expected more.

Miami comes into the game 84th in the nation in yards per play and 55th in points per play while Duke is 70th in YPP and 54th in PPP. This could be a much more interesting game than anticipated at the start of the 2018 season. The Hurricanes are sitting at 19th per the S&P+ while Duke is ranked 44th. Both squads are 5-3 on the season.

Duke Defense on 3rd and 7

Most people would say if it’s 3rd and 7 the offense has to throw the ball, right? Wrong. This is 2-down territory for an offense in the modern era. This is the perfect time to call a post-snap run-pass option and assess the pre-snap reads. There are only 5 men in the box which is an auto run read.

Pitt runs an outside zone read, where the offensive line fan blocks the defensive line and the point was either the running back would cut under neath their blocks, or the quarterback will keep the football. Hey another bad offense with a meh quarterback is able to pick up a huge gain for a touchdown on 3rd and 7 on the way to beating Duke.

QB Power

Duke had two quarterbacks on the field at the same time in Daniel Jones (no 17) and Quentin Harris (no 18). Jones goes in motion as Harris takes the snap. Harris has a wide open pitch to the running back but keeps it behind the kick out block from the H-Back. The play side defensive end is kicked out by the H-Back while the back side guard wraps to the front side inside linebacker.

The flow of the Pitt linebackers shows a close-down as they pinch in. The better play is actually to pitch the football. The QB still powers his way through traffic and scores a touchdown. Miami has to figure out how to stop a mobile quarterback. It’s been one of the achilles heels of Manny Diaz’s defense.

Duke gives great RPO looks

If you want to throw run-pass options now is the time. Duke gives great RPO looks. Their flat defenders are off the man 7+ yards while they stack the box with 6-7 on every play. 6-man boxes are 50/50 run-pass reads while 7-man boxes are for sure pass looks. It’s hard to block seven with 5 or 6, although Richt would make his best attempts to.

Against Boston College, Miami threw a few RPO’s but Richt seems to only like the stalk-bubble and only employs it during tempo drives. I’m not sure why he hasn’t incorporated them into his every down and every situation offense but he hasn’t.


Miami’s offense is vastly behind on the times. Mark Richt and Thomas Brown (should I even bring Brown up?) need to adapt or move out of the way. The Hurricanes are an average football program no different than Duke. Miami has fallen on hard times after being 10-0 to start the 2017 season. Richt’s scheme has been solved by opposing defensive coordinators and he has done little to adapt.

N’Kosi Perry should transfer, because Richt isn’t giving him a fair shake. It’s time for the Board of Trustees to force Richt to hire an offensive coordinator, just like the boosters did at Georgia. Maybe a new O.C. and quarterback coach could work with Perry and coax him to stay but instead Jarren Williams will be the only real quarterback on the roster in 2019 if Perry does what’s best for himself.