With the Blue Devils' season coming to a close, the Blue Zone gives you three keys to the season finale against Miami:
Hit the home run play early and often
Duke by no means has an explosive, high-powered offense that keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night. In fact, the Blue Devils rank second to last in the ACC in offensive yards per game, all the more reason to invigorate the offense early on against the Hurricanes. This upcoming Saturday will give Duke a chance to take advantage of a demoralized Miami defense coming off a game where they gave up 30 points to a non-power five opponent, Florida International.
If the Blue Devils have any hope of sneaking into a bowl game, they will need to create the big play. Quarterback Quentin Harris has shown promise throwing the deep ball, and Deon Jackson has the speed and vision to slash the Hurricanes, as he would surely love to bust out another 75 yard touchdown run this year. The big plays will open up the Duke playbook and keep Miami on its heels on the defensive side of the ball.
Pressure the Miami quarterback (whoever it may be)
It has been a revolving door under center for Miami all season. Head coach Manny Diaz cannot seem to figure out which of his quarterbacks is the right fit, constantly pinballing between redshirt sophomore N’Kosi Perry and redshirt freshman Jarren Williams. It's anybody’s guess who will be calling the shots Saturday, as Williams was granted the start against FIU a week ago and rewarded Diaz with a hat trick of interceptions.
Now here is a job for Duke's pass rushers. With neither of the two quarterbacks able to get into any sort of rhythm this season, the Blue Devils need to take advantage of their inexperience. Leading the charge should be defensive end Victor Dimukeje, who needs to tack on a couple more sacks to his season total of 8.5 and flush Miami’s quarterback out of the pocket to secure a Duke victory.
Duke offensive line
The Hurricanes' defensive line got shredded last weekend against the Panthers, but they still rank seventh in the country in tackles for loss. This matchup is of particular interest because the Blue Devil offensive line had been solid the entire year leading up to the game against Syracuse. Since then, partially due to injuries, Harris has been sacked nine times over two games, making it almost impossible for the Duke offense to sustain a drive.
For the Blue Devils to come out on top, this beaten up offensive line will need to step up. Miami linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and defensive lineman Gregory Rousseau each have 15.5 tackles for loss and will look to set up camp in the backfield Saturday.
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