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Monday Musings: a revival in Durham; transfers earning their stripes

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Miami v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

That was fun. Miami defense chased, hunted, hit, ripped, (insert defensive adjective here) for 60 minutes. Miami run blocked like an elite team. D’Eriq King showed off his uber-talented dual threat abilities. And, for the first time in awhile, we saw Miami absolutely destroy an opponent, who had no answer for the Canes on either side of the ball. That “awhile” being, of course, on September 26. Except, y’know, that team from Tallahassee has plenty of accomplished all-staters and high ranked recruits and Duke.......doesn’t (tee-hee).

Anywho, where to begin....

1) I suppose when you shut out a conference opponent, you start with a defense. I’m running out of words to describe this defensive front. What an unbelievable bunch we have. I can count on one hand the number of defensive end duos in program history that are better than Quincy Roche and Jaelan Phillips. Roche received ACC defensive lineman of the week honors, and honestly, it should’ve gone to both of them jointly.

2) I was worried about the linebacking position due to the COVID absences of Zach McCloud, Sam Brooks, and others, but lord have mercy, did the reserves come through in incredible fashion on Saturday night. Waynmon Steed and Corey Flagg had themselves a game, tallying 5 stops each. Bradley Jennings, Jr. also had a solid game inside, delivering a thunderous hit on the Duke ballcarrier on 2nd and 1 that really helped set the tone for the remainder of the game. On the back end, Bubba Bolden led the Canes with 9 stops and was all over the field, as usual. From line to secondary, that’s as good of a physical and technique performance that you will see from a Miami defense. Let’s keep that mindset rolling into UNC.

3) It was awesome to see Navaughn Donaldson back on the field again. And it’s probably not coincidental that Miami had a successful day running the football. I don’t know how much he was in there, but I know he was in there on Cam Harris’s touchdown run, where the line blasted a comet-sized hole for him to dart to the end zone. He could provide a big boost in the season’s final games. In any event, the line didn’t miss a beat with him in there, and that can only be a good thing.

4) And it was a renaissance of a performance by Harris. He ran with purpose, power, and speed, looking like the RB1 he showcased early in the season. Jaylon Knighton drew the start, and obviously struggled with the early fumble and departure due to injury. Don Chaney looked like an RB1 as well with the ball in his hands. In other words, when one back struggles, the other two can pick up the slack. Enough with “(insert RB name here) is the worst of the bunch” like some folks were saying with Harris earlier this year when the running game was struggling against Pitt and Virginia. Miami has three great backs who will shine at different times this year. And that’s absolutely ok. Let’s just enjoy them while we have them, yes?

5) D’Eriq King is an all-time Top 5 most talented QB in Miami program history. Yes, I said MOST TALENTED, not winningest or best (yet). What he can do with his arm and on the ground are unmatched in our program. That 89-yard dart to an open Mike Harley was a fastball/line drive throw that hit him perfectly in stride. He also had a couple of nice runs where he kept the RPO, which are opportunities we’ve been talking about having been there each week.

Don’t agree about King’s place at UM? Fight me. I’m dying on this comfy, grassy hill.

6) In case you missed it, transferring to Miami means winning games AND possibly individual awards:

Congrats to Bubba, Jose, Lou, D’Eriq, and Jaelan for their nominations. If a Top 10 ranking, a gorgeous campus and warm weather, and an opportunity to showcase at a school with the brand of the U (and in a city as big and influential as Miami) wasn’t already enough to persuade potential impact upperclassmen to come to south Florida to finish their careers, this can’t hurt as well.

7) I’m not worried about Clemson clinching a trip to Charlotte to take on the Irish. Honestly, the ACC championship game hasn’t been my goal. A 10-1 regular season and a New Years Six bowl game has been my ultimate brass ring, and the Canes are in great shape for that possibility with two games left this season.

8) UNC-Miami prediction: I’m gonna focus on the defensive side of the ball. Miami’s front has been a nightmare for everyone not named Clemson, and as dominant as they’ve been (and confident), I think that will help neutralize UNC’s potent passing attack. The Heels have also been a VERY different team on the road, where they’ve lost games to FSU and UVA, and the Canes have played solidly inside the friendly confines of the Rock.

I expect the Canes to lean on the running game, but now with Brevin Jordan back (and already having scored), the Canes have two major weapons in the red zone play action game to challenge the Heels. King finds one or both of them, Miami’s offense shows good balance, and the Canes all but clinch the ACC’s Orange Bowl berth (provided the Irish lose and still make the CFP). Miami 33, UNC 23.