The last game of the 2019 regular season for Miami will take place in Durham, NC on November 30th, as the Canes seek to right a 2018 wrong by defeating the Duke Blue Devils.
In the 20-12 loss to the inner-division foe last season, the Hurricanes couldn’t find continuity and consistency from the quarterback position. Travis Homer (133 yards rushing) and DeeJay Dallas (124 yards rushing) both had stellar games on the ground. The defense also brought the Turnover Chain out when Jaquan Johnson intercepted Daniel Jones in the third quarter. Sadly, the ugly and sloppy affair, which included heavy downpour, never lined up for the Canes.
2019 will be head coach David Cutcliffe’s 12th season coaching the Blue Devils. He holds a 2-9 record against Miami. Last year the Blue Devil finished second-to-last in the ACC Coastal with a 8-5 overall record and a 3-3 record within the division. Duke ended its season with a 56-27 drubbing of the Temple Owls in Independence Bowl. Like Miami, the Blue Devils will have a new quarterback under center. They will seek to keep its newfound and short-lived success against Miami going.
Coach Cutcliffe’s team will experience a complete passing game upheaval now that Daniel Jones is gone to the NFL. The offense went through turnover at QB and WR. Taking over under center is senior QB, Quentin Harris. He’s spent three years in Durham waiting patiently for his opportunity to lead the team. During his time at Duke, Harris has completed 41 of 81 passes, for 510 yards, 8 interceptions and 1 interception. He started two games last season against Baylor and NC Central. Harris threw for a combined total of 376 yards, 6 TDs, and 0 INTs.
The team returns four WRs and one tight end from last year’s offense. RS senior WR Aaron Young, RS junior Scott Bracey, and junior tight end Noah Gray will be the focal point of the passing game until they get sophomore Jake Bobo back from a clavicle injury. There isn’t one matchup nightmare to write home about in the group, so I wont. Behind those players is a mix of inexperience and hopes of cashing in on potential. Last season, Duke ran for 159.6 (77th overall) yards per game. Harris’ athletic ability at the quarterback position will help raise these numbers. Running backs Deon Jackson and Brittain Brown will be the duo in the backfield. Cutcliffe has never produced a 1,000-yard rusher during his time at Duke, though this is a fact more reflective of Cutcliffe’s tendency to rotate backs.
Duke has eight starters returning on defense, which speaks to continuity. They have an established group that has cohesion and continuity. The Blue Devils will also get back 2017 All-ACC cornerback Mark Gilbert after suffering a season-ending hip injury during the second game of 2018.
Duke held teams to 27.4 points per game last season, for a young group those are pretty solid numbers. They will have some new faces in the linebacker room but leadership in the trenches. Sixth-year defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord, Ben Frye, and others all returned to helm a scheme that has a proclivity to go two-deep. There’s no real standout at pass-rush so they’ll look to stop the run and hope the experience in the back-end prevails.
Coach Cutcliffe has averaged over 7 wins each season since 2013. This fact is even more impressive when you consider the lack of marquee players circulating through the program during his tenure. It’s apparent that the players are coached well, stay within their scheme, and come prepared for a hard-nosed matchup each week. I’m certain the Coastal Divison will be wrapped up before week 12. However, this is college football and crazier things have happened. I expect Duke to give us a good test, but the Blue Devils will ultimately succumb to the lack of talent on both sides of the ball.