Miami, Florida – With the losing streak over the Miami Hurricanes will try to carry their new momentum versus the Blue Devils. The Canes absolutely crushed them in the past two meetings and will seek to continue the dominance. Fresh off a close 38-35 loss to North Carolina, Duke is now 4-3 (1-2, ACC) for the season. The Dukies come to town on a two-game skid hoping to upset the Hurricanes at the Hardrock.
Believe it or not, the Blue Devils lead the ACC in rushing with 1,441 yards, averaging nearly 206 yards per game. They’ve also scored the fourth most points in the league accumulating 230, that’s almost 33 points per game. For comparison, the Hurricanes scored 184 so far. Defensively, they are one of the worst against the pass giving up 1,824, and are the fourth worst against the rush surrendering 991.
During the preseason, this matchup seemed like an easy win but after everything that’s happened, it’s far from a sure thing. Sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard anchors the offense supported by a very capable running back and an explosive wide receiver. One of their defensive backs is near the top of the league in tackles. For the sports betters, the Miami Hurricanes are a 9.5-point favorite over the Blue Devils.
Players to watch
Duke Blue Devils
Riley Leonard (QB) – The sophomore can play. Riley Leonard has thrown for the fifth most yards in the conference (1,557) trailing just behind Tyler Van Dyke. Leonard can also run amok. The starting QB leads the program in rushing ahead of his own teammate whom we’ll discuss in a moment. Recording 420 yards on the ground, Riley is sixth in the ACC and second among quarterbacks. In other words, the youngster is a dual threat for the defense to take care of.
RILEY LEONARD 74-YARD HOUSE CALL ‼️
🎥: @ACCFootball pic.twitter.com/CE9WXJpPiF
— FanSided (@FanSided) October 16, 2022
Jordan Waters (RB) – It isn’t just Leonard the team should be planning for. Jordan Waters has generated 363 yards and 6 touchdowns. The junior is coming off his best game of the season with 15 carries for 91 yards and two scores. Averaging five yards per carry, Waters is part of a one-two punch with Jaylen Coleman. Initially recruited as a wide receiver, Jordan knows how to hit the gaps and use his strength as an advantage.
Jalon Calhoun (WR) – The ninth-best receiver in terms of yardage (411), Jalon Calhoun averages 14.2 yards a catch showing great playmaking ability. Recording six receptions for 55 yards, Duke’s leading wide receiver will likely be more involved against Miami. Considering they’re facing a team who seeks to build on their latest win, the Blue Devils will need to fire on all cylinders, especially in the air attack. The U’s secondary will present a challenge to Calhoun and company.
A sensational catch and run by Jalon Calhoun!@DukeFOOTBALL | #ACCFootball
📱 https://t.co/1TxHjemdxF pic.twitter.com/wEStEMfMSV
— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) October 2, 2021
Darius Joiner (DB) – As Duke’s leading tackler, Darius Joiner has the fifth most in the league tallying 57. 40 of those were solo and nabbing an interception along the way. A transfer out of Western Illinois, and considered one of the best in FCS, Joiner hit the transfer portal landing in Durham, North Carolina. Darius has range and plays with physicality by not only protecting against the pass but also shoring up the front in a blitz. The Super Senior has the instinct to make plays in coverage.
"I'm willing to come off the bench. Try to give them 35 [points] and 10 [rebounds]"
Get Darius Joiner on the squad @DukeMBB 😂 @DukeFOOTBALL pic.twitter.com/xtsxjqqPaL
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) October 5, 2022
Colbie Young (WR) – Well then! Fans saw glimmers of Colbie Young’s potential versus North Carolina followed by a great performance against Virginia Tech. Young caught nine passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. Folks wanted to see him more involved and in the process, it looks like the Hurricanes found themselves a quality wideout. Therefore, Colbie is certainly someone to watch this weekend.
Colbie Young are you serious?!@ColbieYoung
Miami 17, Virginia Tech 0
Tune in: https://t.co/PRi5rbHsGg pic.twitter.com/WNIajVGdUa
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) October 15, 2022
Akheem Mesidor (DL) – Young wasn’t the only one balling out. On defense, Akheem Mesidor led the team with eight tackles including four solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He accounted for over half the hits on the Hokies’ Grant Wells. The Canes need to see more of that this Saturday if they want to keep the Blue Devils in check. Lastly, Mesidor is the first Hurricane this season to record multiple sacks.
How about that performance by Akheem Mesidor?
8 tackles, 3.5 sacks and total dominance up front.@Akheem_Mes | #GoCanes pic.twitter.com/kUeXUJOPKS
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) October 16, 2022
Te’Cory Couch (CB) – The secondary has quite an assignment in week eight. Consequently, Te’Cory Couch will be tasked with preventing big plays from the likes of Leonard and Calhoun. In man-to-man coverage, the junior will have to read the opposition’s routes and be prepared for deep threats. As long as the receivers don’t manage to get open behind them Couch should be in for a productive afternoon. No pass interference penalties are also a plus especially since those always extend drives.
Brashard Smith (WR) – I’m liking the increased workload Brashard Smith’s getting. Against the Hokies, he caught six passes for 76 yards including a 30-yard play on the first reception of the day. Statistically, it was his best outing so far and I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith hits the centennial mark at some point. Though his time is running out considering UM’s top two wide receivers are making progress while on the mend.
Canes HC Mario Cristobal with a lot of high praise for WR Brashard Smith, on and off the field:
"He's taking ownership. He has matured. He's grown up. He's attacked preparation. He's become a really good practice player…He's got an unbelievable future ahead of him."
— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) October 19, 2022
TVD is playing much better and he has a new target to stretch the field. UM is also great against the rush and no doubt the front seven will pressure Leonard. However, one area of weakness last weekend was the penalties. As everyone knows, these kill drives or extend them forcing the defense to remain on the field. If the Miami Hurricanes can outdo the Blue Devils when it comes to causing turnovers, converting on third down, and getting the maximum out of their red zone opportunities, they can cash in on another victory. The Canes should nail this one 28-20.
Photo | Edwin Garcia
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