Let’s be honest, most college sports fans don’t need any extra motivation to root against Duke. The small, private school in Durham, NC has an arrogance that people tend to dislike. Watching the Canes basketball team beat Duke on their home floor earlier this year in Coach K’s last season was super sweet. But this is about football!
Miami struggled with Duke last decade, losing three of seven matchups from 2013 to 2019. Thankfully, the Canes righted the ship the last two seasons, winning 48-0 in 2020 and 47-10 last year.
What to watch for: Miami Hurricanes
Defensive pressure. Miami’s TVD-led offense should put up points against the Duke defense. I am more interested in seeing how Kevin Steele’s new and improved Hurricane defense infiltrates the offensive backfield, putting pressure on the quarterback and running backs. Duke’s new offensive coordinator, Kevin Johns, knows how to scheme on that side of the ball. In his three years at Memphis from 2019-2021, his teams put up big, consistent offensive numbers. In what will be a constant theme all season, Miami’s linebacker play will be key in determining the defense’s overall performance. Their ability to cover in space frees Miami’s athletes on the defensive line and in the secondary to simply focus on causing disruption (I’m looking at you Leonard Taylor and James Williams). With six games prior to this matchup, the Canes defense should have synergy by the time the Blue Devils come to town.
What to watch for: Duke Blue Devils
Playing mistake-free football. Duke will be at a talent disadvantage against Miami. New Blue Devil Head Coach Mike Elko will do his best to minimize errors on both sides of the ball. Gunnar Holmberg, last year’s starting quarterback, transferred to FIU. He is likely to be replaced by one of two sophomores: Riley Leonard or Jordan Moore. They combined for a total of 233 snaps last season. That is not an ideal situation for a first-year head coach. Duke also lost First Team All-ACC running back Mataeo Durant and his 1,241 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. Aforementioned backup quarterback Jordan Moore was second on the team in rushing with only 221 yards. Coach Elko might end up building something good at Duke; I just don’t see Miami giving up many points in this year’s matchup. So, anyone want to watch highlights from Duke’s spring game? No? Well, I’m still putting it in here.
Player to watch: Miami Hurricanes
Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson. This guy has been a force since he has arrived in Coral Gables after transferring from Georgia before last season, earning Honorable Mention All-ACC. What’s even more exciting, is that Stevenson is improving and has a chance to be a top-flight cornerback in the country. He is already Preseason Second Team All-ACC. I expect Stevenson to cover the opponent’s number one receiver on most plays throughout the year. He earned the trust of many a Cane fan in 2021. Let’s see him take the next step in what is likely his last college season. Plus, the guy below is good enough to require a solid cornerback to slow him down.
Tyrique Stevenson in man coverage last season:— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 18, 2022
5 catches allowed
39.4 passer rating
5 forced incompletions pic.twitter.com/fazmaSo71V
Player to watch: Duke Blue Devils
Wide receiver Jalon Calhoun. He is by far Duke’s most talented offensive player returning in 2022. Calhoun was second on the team last season in both catches and yards, with 56 and 718, respectively, and led the team with three touchdown receptions. He was Duke’s leading receiver against Miami in 2021, with a gaudy stat line of four catches for 33 yards. I kid. He does have playmaking ability and is dangerous in the open field. Jalon Calhoun should be Miami’s top priority when planning how to stop Duke’s passing game.
Miami wins 48-10. TVD puts up big numbers (shocking) with over 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes. Don Chaney and Jaylon Knighton combine to gash Duke for close to 200 yards rushing. The Miami defense rattles the sophomore-duo at quarterback, forcing four turnovers. Jalon Calhoun catches a third quarter touchdown against Tyrique Stevenson, causing him to swear he won’t give up another touchdown catch the rest of the season, which he does! Yeah! I can’t wait for this game.