Let me start off by saying: it’s good to be BACK. I get to talk Miami Hurricanes football. I get to make Canyonero references, I get to watch a game with the fireplace going on Saturday night... I’m excited.
The Miami Hurricanes (7-1) head north to Durham, NC to face the struggling Duke Blue Devils (2-7) on Saturday, December 5th at 8:00pm on ACCN. The Hurricanes have been off for what feels like a decade, while the Blue Devils are coming off of a blowout’ish loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Miami is 13-4 all-time against Duke but the ‘Canes have dropped the last two games to the Devils by eight and 10 points. Normally I would offer you the SP+ for each team but ESPN has put that information behind a paywall and I ain’t payin’ (Cam?).
Duke is currently 81st in scoring (of 127) with 26.4 points per game. The Devils have allowed 30 PPG which is good for 100th (of 127) overall. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Blue Devils on Saturday night.
Coach Cutcliffe has gone with former Clemson blue chip quarterback Chase Brice as his starter. Brice has struggled, a lot, in 2020. Brice has completed 53% of his passes while averaging only 6.4 yards per attempt. Brice has also tossed nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in ‘20.
Above- Duke hits the WR on a corner route. He’s wide open. Look at how poorly he runs after the catch. That made me want to puke. He almost falls over. By gawd.
The Duke run game has been strong. The Devils split duties between Deon Jackson and Mataeo Durant this season. Both backs have ran for over 600 yards this season, with Jackson averaging 4.6 yards per carry and Durant averaging 6.6 ypc. The duo has combined for 10 rushing touchdowns, and 11 touchdowns overall.
Above- Duke is funny (not ha-ha funny, just funny looking). A year ago they ran flexbone plays both when backed up and in the red zone, and specifically against GT (some sort of an homage to Paul Johnson). But here, backed up, in a game they lead by two, they do... this? I understand that Brice isn’t mobile but they run QB sneaks under center and easily could’ve done something like that to get out of the end zone.
With the passing game struggling, Duke has spread the ball around well this season. Jalon Callhoun has the most receptions (28), Jake Bobo leads the team in yards (313), Jarett Garner leads in yards per catch (21.1), and there’s a three-way tie for receiving TD’s (2).
Above- pause for concern is how easily Brice drops this fade route in. However, the Jackets have terrible CB’s. Miami’s are much better, and need to live up to the billing regarding Al Blades Jr and D.J. Ivey. I have no concerns about Te’Cory Couch.
Above- The Devils run a fairly standard 4-2-5 look. Duke does a terrible job of adjusting to motion, and a worse job of re-aligning their linebackers after said motion. It allowed the Jackets to run for 300 yards on the Devils defense.
Above- GT motions right and runs counter back to the left for a TD. Look at the linebacker play, or lack there of.
Let’s hope that Garin Justice and the Miami offensive line are healthy and prepared for the Duke defensive line. Chris Rumph II has logged 11.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2020. Rumph is thin at 235 pounds but is a playmaker off the edge. Senior lineman Victor Dimukeje has five TFL’s and seven sacks. Yes, this is going to be a tough go for the ‘Canes O-Line.
Above- Duke is terrible against the run game. GT runs a read with the guard and tackle pulling. Duke winds up with two inside linebackers and a safety in the same gap, with no one playing the back side that the RB shoots through. Woof.
Shaka Heyward is a massive linebacker at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. Heyward has logged 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks so far this year. But man, the inside linebacker play has been abysmal in the little I’ve seen Duke play this season.
They need some help at the position, but that should spell money for the tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, and the running back trio of Cam’Ron Harris, Jaylon Knighton, and Don Chaney Jr.
Above- D’Eriq King has been money on deep balls, let’s hope the layoff didn’t impact the timing he had with Mike Harley et al in November. Get your tall guy in a 1-on-1 look, and place a ball perfectly as he catches it at its peak, that’s beautiful football.
Safety Marquis Waters has six TFL’s and five pass break ups this season. He’s an extremely productive defensive back that has 56 tackles, too. Cornerback Jeremiah Lewis has six PBU’s and two interceptions this season. Waters and Lewis are joined by a quality safety in Michael Carter II. Carter has 6 PBU’s, two interceptions, and is the captain of the back end for Duke.
Above- If the other safety (assume Carter) is playing the RPO, Lewis (this S, #39) can’t commit this hard to the front side of the play. Also the linebacker to the wide side is in a 10 technique (closer to the center than the guard) leaving no one back side on the play.
In my Summer Scheming piece that I put out even when Duke was off the schedule, well, they’re back. The Canyonero keys to victory were:- 1- for Miami to play to their strengths, 2- for Miami to actually care about winning or losing this game, and 3- to win the kicking game.
Key 1- Duke is really weak against the run but that hasn’t been Miami’s strength this season. I mean, I think everyone wishes it was but it hasn’t been, outside of King and a few long runs. Miami is going to have to figure out what their strengths are, and so far I think it’s the deep ball from King.
Key 2- This team has more fight than the past two iterations that were thrown on the field from Mark Richt and now Manny Diaz. Coach Diaz’s 2020 version has scrapped for come from behind wins and overcome poor starts to finish out games. I think they care a hell of a lot more than 2018 and 2019’s teams.
Key 3- The kicking game. Again, no one is worried about the kicker or punter; but Duke scored on a muffed punt return against GT and that could be a huge momentum swing against Miami for the Devils.
If games were decided by only talent, Miami should win this game by 28. If this game was played in November I would day Miami by 17. With Miami’s layoff vs. Duke having played last week, COVID issues, it’s a cold, night, road game and 2020 being 2020, I’m saying...
Prediction: Miami by 9.