The Duke Blue Devils are 4-7 and hosting the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday, November 30th at 3:30pm on ESPN2. The Devils are ranked 73rd per the SP+ while the Hurricanes are 6-5 and ranked 25th (we all know Bill Connelly has an “I heart Manny Diaz” adjustor to his analytics).
Duke’s offense is ranked 109th per the SP+ while the Miami defense is ranked 13th. The Blue Devils defense is 45th, against Miami’s 58th ranked offense, which could mean trouble for Dan Enos and his scoring struggles in orange and green. The Devils have a much better kicking game, their SP+ ranking is 17th in the third phase while Miami’s is still an ever-struggling 85th.
Duke is 100th in points per play while even Miami is ranked 75th. Duke quarterback Quentin Harris has struggled in the passing game. Harris is averaging only 5.8 yards per attempt with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He does add a run dynamic with over 300 yards on the ground and six scores. The Devils don’t have a consistent big play threat in the receiving corps, their receivers with double-digit catches average only 13 yards per catch.
Running back Deon Jackson averages only 3.8 yards per carry for the Devils. On defense, linebacker Koby Quansah has 100 tackles including 11 tackles for loss on the season. Defensive end Chris Rumph II, only a sophomore, has 10 tackles for loss. Defensive end Victor Dimukeje leads the team with 8.5 sacks. Having a pair of fast, athletic defensive ends could spell trouble for Enos and Miami’s passing attack if he’s unwilling to adapt his scheme.
Blue Devils Defense
Duke is normally known for their offense but in 2019 it’s the defense that has played well while the offense ha sputtered. Daniel Jones was always good but not great as a Blue Devil and I doubt people imagined the offense taking the drastic fall it has with Harris behind center. David Cutcliffe, however, will find weaknesses in the Miami defense and mostly it’s taking calculated deep shots, running power read, and any way that an OC can force Shaq Quarterman to have to move laterally.
Of course the Duke pass rush concerns me. If Dan Enos is going to be stubborn and not use a tight end to chip the ends, and without Deejay Dallas helping in the backfield, this could get ugly. Duke sacked Wake Forest three times and added two hurries. Those aren’t eye popping numbers but Wake’s offensive scheme is getting a lot more with nothing than vice versa that Enos has been pulling off on most Saturdays. Speed rush with a dip and rip could spell trouble for DJ Scaife and Zion Nelson.
Taking deep shots on them
Wake Forest keeps the back in for help on pass protection, and it’s a shotgun play with no slow boots or play-actions. This gives the quarterback time and vision. Miami is going to have to take a deep shot like this against Duke. Miami has speed in Mike Harley and Dee Wiggins and they’re going to have to come open against slower cornerbacks. If Wake can do it Miami should be able to do it, too.
Harris needs to run hard
Deejay Dallas may not need surgery, but he sure isn’t playing against Duke on Saturday. In his stead, Miami needs to get production from Cam’Ron Harris and Robert Burns, because it’s obvious Diaz isn’t playing Lorenzo Lingard in 2019. If you watch this run from Wake Forest, the back breaks about a half dozen tackles on a 14-yard run. Harris, Burns (aka 1st down two yards short guy) and maybe Lingard need to find that same production that Dallas flashed.
The Duke Offense
Like I said above, if Duke wants to beat Miami they have to land on some deep shots against the cornerbacks. I was at the Duke versus Georgia Tech game and Harris played really well against the Yellow Jackets. The Devils go max protect and the quarterback drops a dime to his receiver on the sideline.
Spread ‘em out, run inside
Cutcliffe, unlike Dan Enos, has no issue going full “adapt or die.” Remember, Cutcliffe coached Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tee Martin, Daniel Jones and Quentin Harris. He has adapted from the stationary Peyton to a more run friendly Tee Martin, a semi-athletic Eli Manning, a dual threat type in Jones and now Harris, too.
As Coach Cut looks for ways to beat Miami he won’t have to look much further than getting a lineman on Quarterman and cutting underneath him. Shaq has done a poor job of shedding blocks and pursuing ball carriers.
Duke has been running the flexbone down inside the red zone during the 2019 season. Harris seems really comfortable in the offense, and they even ran midline option against Georgia Tech for a touchdown, how appropriate! With it being the last regular season game in 2019, I wouldn’t doubt Coach Cut pulls no punches. What does he have to lose?
After seeing Miami give up dump passes inside the 10 yard line all season, I’m sure Cut will find something similar for Harris in the flexbone.
I have been terrible at predicting ‘Canes games in 2019. I predicted a 20 point Miami win against FIU, that’s enough said! I can predict this: if Miami comes out flat some assistant coaches will be fired and Diaz will find himself on a Willie Taggart style hot seat. If Miami bounces back I still think an assistant coach is moved but Diaz’s desk chair will feel a little cooler, unless the ‘Canes are smoked in the bowl game.
If Dan Enos is forced to open the offense back up, like he did against Louisville, Miami wins. If Diaz caves to Enos, and Enos is stubborn, Miami loses. Hopefully the ‘Canes offense can click without Dallas at running back.
Prediction: Duke by 1