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X-factor: Jarett Garner could be the deciding factor for Duke's big matchup with Miami

Jarett Garner's deep route running skill makes him Duke's only hope to keep up with the Hurricanes.
Jarett Garner's deep route running skill makes him Duke's only hope to keep up with the Hurricanes.

In what could be Duke football’s final game of the season, the Blue Devils will welcome arguably their toughest opponent in Miami. The Hurricanes currently sit at No. 9 in the country, giving them an outside shot at sneaking into the College Football Playoffs and giving Duke the chance to play spoiler. The Blue Zone brings you the players from each team who can make it happen:

Jarett Garner, WR, Duke

Duke’s biggest surprise of this season, Jaret Garner, will be more crucial to his team than ever against Miami. The Manny Diaz-led Hurricanes can score in the blink of an eye and the Hurricanes are firing on all cylinders, so Garner’s ability to be a big play threat will be the difference.

One thing about Miami is that they don’t just win because of their tremendous talent. The Hurricanes have always been known for a unique swagger and charisma and the only way to nullify that impact is for the Blue Devils to swing back with some big plays of their own. Garner is the man for the job, largely due to his ridiculous 21.1 yards per catch average and his ability to win 50-50 balls down the field. 

He has really emerged as the primary deep-ball target for quarterback Chase Brice, but they struggled to connect last weekend. That cannot happen if Duke wants to pull off the upset. Garner catching long balls will not only be a massive injection of momentum, but will open up head coach David Cutcliffe’s playbook and give his team a fighting chance.

D’Eriq King, QB, Miami

Miami’s graduate transfer, D’Eriq King, is going to be a problem this Saturday. Look no further than Duke’s matchup with Georgia Tech and you will understand how vulnerable this Duke defense is to a dual threat quarterback. Last weekend, Georgia Tech’s quarterback, Jeff Sims, rushed for over 100 yards and constantly converted broken plays into positive gains. He led the Yellow Jackets to 56 points on just 146 yards passing, and King is more than capable of eclipsing Sims’ statline this weekend.

The only saving grace for Duke’s defense against Sims was his inaccuracy and decision-making, but King is in his fifth year of college football and will not make either of those mistakes. The Texas native has surely seen the tape from Duke’s last contest, as he is coming off a subpar performance against Virginia Tech, meaning the Blue Devils need to expect King to be extra eager to make an impact.

While statistically, King is not having the year most expected when the whole country had their eyes on him as a Heisman candidate, he can light up a stat sheet as good as anyone in the nation. If King is not contained, he is going to run and throw the ball all over the field and make it a long night for Duke.


Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity senior and was sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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