Duke in 2013: 7-2 (Defeated N.C. State 38-20 last time out)
Miami in 2013: 7-2 (Lost to Virginia Tech 42-24 last time out)
PROBABLE – Ross Cockrell (CB), Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (DE), Dwayne Norman (S)
OUT – Jared Boyd (CB), Thomas Sirk (QB), Jonathan Woodruff (DE)
OUT FOR SEASON – Tanner Stone (OT), Jamal Wallace (DT)
DOUBTFUL – Phillip Dorsett (WR)
OUT – Alex Figueroa (LB), Danny Isidora (OL)
OUT FOR THE SEASON – Duke Johnson (RB), Hunter Knighton (OL)
Duke is riding a five game winning streak, while Miami has lost their last two ball games after jumping out to a 7-0 start to the season. The two teams have faced two common opponents Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech with Duke having beat Virginia Tech while losing to Georgia Tech, and Miami beating Georgia Tech but losing to Virginia Tech so the common opponent comparison is a wash.
HOW DUKE CAN WIN
Stop the run! The past two weeks when Miami lost they were held to 83 and 24 yards rushing by Florida State and Virginia Tech respectively. In seven victories, Miami averaged 214.7 rushing yards per game.
Duke must create 3rd and five yards or longer to go situations in order to force quarterback Stephen Morris to throw the ball. With Duke Johnson out, it is easy to jump to the conclusion Miami cannot run the ball, but that would be an incorrect assumption. Dallas Crawford rushed 33 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns against North Carolina when Duke Johnson left the game during the 1st Quarter after taking a knee to the head. To beat Miami, one must successfully stop the run.
On offense, Duke needs to establish the run game with their running backs. Against Virginia Tech, quarterback Anthony Boone led the team in rushing with 44 yards on 11 carries, while quarterback Brandon Connette was the Blue Devils leading rusher against N.C. State gaining 40 yards on eight carries. Duke has too much talent at running back for the quarterbacks to lead the team in rushing two consecutive games. The running backs must be heavily involved in the offense against the ‘Canes.
Once the running game is established, the quarterbacks, plural because the expectation is both will see significant action, can work in the play action pass and short quick pass scheme Duke has achieved success with this season.
HOW DUKE CAN LOSE
Turnovers! Duke quarterbacks committed eight turnovers in the wins over Virginia Tech and N.C. State, seven Anthony Boone interceptions and a Brandon Connette fumble. Sloppy quarterback play against Miami could be fatal. The ‘Canes have a speed and size advantage over Duke so the Blue Devils cannot give Miami extra opportunities with the ball.
For the season, Duke’s turnover margin is even; however, the credit goes to the defense for creating 18 turnovers which is tied for sixth most in the conference. If the offense does not value the ball every possession on Saturday against the ‘Canes it will be a tough evening.
A team cannot turn the ball over four times and expect to win.
WHY DUKE WILL WIN
The offense will find its groove and execute, while the defense will continue to play as an inspired unit. Simply stated, Duke has struggled on offense 10 of the last 12 quarters played, with the exception being the final two quarters in Charlottesville when they scored 28 points against the Cavaliers.
Coach David Cutcliffe pulled quarterback Anthony Boone in the 3rd Quarter of the N.C. State game after Boone tossed his third interception. Boone will be motivated to demonstrate he deserves to be the starting quarterback and team leader. Coach Cutcliffe will substitute Brandon Connette into the game in key short yardage situations and Connette will be equally motivated to demonstrate he belongs in the game so look for solid quarterback performances by both Boone and Connette this Saturday.
With the quarterbacks executing up to standards, Duke’s other playmakers will make things difficult for Miami’s defense. Creating opportunities for talented wide receiver Jamison Crowder without forcing the ball to him will pay huge dividends as Duke turns in a solid, balanced offensive performance.
Duke will jump out to a quick lead, build on it, and hold off a furious Miami comeback bid in the 4th Quarter to extend their winning streak to six games.
Duke 30, Miami 28