Duke Blue Devils at Miami Hurricanes Preview


The Duke Blue Devils hit the road to face their first Coastal Division foe of the year, the Miami Hurricanes. For Duke it will be the first chance to test out this team against a real opponent that might actually beat them. For Miami, this is an opportunity to level their conference record at the expense of a ranked opponent.

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This game pits the preseason ACC Coastal choice Hurricanes against the team that got the most first place votes Blue Devils. California freshman Brad Kaaya has led the Canes so far this season, and of course the big playmaker for the Canes is Duke Johnson out of the backfield.

Date: September 27

Time: 7:30


Venue: Sun Life Stadium

Nov 16, 2013; Durham, NC, USA; Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Justin Renfrow (78) tackles Duke Blue Devils quarterback Brandon Connette (18) at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Last Time: 2013, Blue Devils 48 Hurricanes 30

The situations were almost exactly reversed last year as Duke defended home field against the #24 Hurricanes. By the end of the game, all that had changed. Duke got the ball into the red zone consistently and then Brandon Connette brought it in four times. Jevan Snead had 138 yards on the ground. Duke took a speed disadvantage and pounded the ball straight ahead. Miami did not have super frosh Duke Johnson for that game, something to keep in mind this time around.

Sep 20, 2014; Lincoln, NE, USA; Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden gestures during the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second half at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska won 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Miami Hurricanes (2-2)

Miami did the worst thing you can do with a freshman starting quarterback. Coach Al Golden played him immediately against a really veteran defense on the road. That was Louisville in week 1, and Miami has not sunk to those levels of ineptitude since. Not even fainting goats could deny them against Arkansas State.

The best measuring stick for this Miami team is their game against Nebraska. They played a ranked team close until the fourth quarter, when turnovers finally caught up to them. Brad Kaaya put up a monster 359 yards passing, and the Miami rushing attack was okay. Eventually the odds of putting the ball in a freshman quarterback’s hands came back to bite and he threw two interceptions.

Nebraska pounded away at Miami with Heisman candidate running back Ameer Abdullah, and this is going to be the plan that Duke will try to replicate. It is not that much different from the plan that beat Miami last year, just no Connette. That should mean lots of Shaquille Powell, Jevan Snead, and Shaun Wilson over course of the game. Anthony Boone may do some keepers as well.

Sep 20, 2014; Lincoln, NE, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson (8) runs against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second half at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska won 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Miami will be looking for Johnson to do to Duke what injuries prevented him from doing last year. A strong Miami running game should be a necessity. Brad Kaaya will not throw for 350 yards every week. Look for the Duke defense to try to contain Johnson, and take their chances with Kaaya throwing down the field.

On defense. The Hurricanes are replacing some linemen and linebackers. Only Denzel Perryman is a senior at his position. The turnover in the front seven exposes Miami to just the sort of problem that Nebraska provides, power running football. The back secondary though is full of veterans, but even they can’t defend forever if there is no pass rush.

Prediction: Hurricanes 28-21
ONJ Season Record: 15-2

It is hard for me to go against the home team in what I think will be a close game. It will probably come down to Duke Johnson. If he runs for 100 yards or more, they win. If he doesn’t, they lose. You would think that a Boone-Kaaya duel would work in Boone’s favor, but I’ve seen strange things happen to Anthony Boone sometimes. Storm warning on South Beach.