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Film room: Duke football looks for first ACC win as it ends season against Miami

Wide receiver Jake Bobo will look to take advantage of a weakened Miami secondary.
Wide receiver Jake Bobo will look to take advantage of a weakened Miami secondary.

Miami comes to Durham this Saturday for Duke’s Senior Day at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Devils look to record their first ACC win of the season, so the Blue Zone previews the game with some film analysis: 

Following seven straight games of disappointment for Duke football and their faithful fans, the Blue Devils hope to defy the odds and beat the Miami Hurricanes this Saturday. With no bowl game to look forward to for the Blue Devils, this game will put an end to an arduous and disheartening season. But a win against Miami would leave the 26 players being honored for Senior Day with a good final memory, one that may not be enough to forget the other pitfalls of the season, but a win nonetheless. 

With this the last game of the regular season, the Blue Devils will fight to finish with one ACC victory under their belt. The last time Duke went winless in the conference was 2007, the year before head coach David Cutcliffe arrived with the mission to salvage and redefine Duke football. Has the program come full circle?

It doesn’t help that the Hurricanes are coming in hot after securing their bowl eligibility this year with a victory over Virginia Tech. They started the season 2-4, unable to pull ahead in close games against Virginia and North Carolina. But recently, things have turned around for the Hurricanes, and they seem to be getting better each week. They recorded three straight wins against NC State, Pittsburgh, and Georgia Tech, falling to Florida State and bouncing back against Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes now look to finish the regular season at 7-5 against Duke this Saturday. Let’s take a look at what Duke will need to address if they want to come home with the win. 

In a rainy game against Virginia Tech, five of the six Miami receivers charted double-digit yards per catch. Talk about depth. Charleston Rambo had 116 yards, and teammates Brashard Smith, Mike Harley and Will Mallory each walked away with a touchdown. Although the Miami run game was dismal last week, averaging 3.3 yards per carry, running back Jaylan Knighton was effective near the endzone and notched two touchdowns. 

Miami’s talented offensive line looks to apply heavy pressure on Holmberg and thwart star-running back Mataeo Durant’s efforts on Saturday. Last week, Miami recorded four sacks against Virginia Tech and 10 tackles for loss. The Hurricanes have a total of 30 sacks on the season, compared to Duke’s 19. 

Holmberg has 2,367 yards on the season, completing 67.6% of his passes on 7.6 yards per attempt. In front of him, Duke’s offensive line will compete against Miami’s two leading defensive players, linebackers Corey Flagg Jr. and Waynmon Steed. 

The Hurricanes’ defense stymied Virginia Tech’s top receiver, Tre Turner, who averaged 17.1 yards per catch prior to the game, to only 8.8 yards per catch. Duke receivers should be wary of this but capitalize on the Hurricanes missing safety, James Williams. Williams, who is out on a groin injury, has two interceptions on the season, so Jake Bobo and Jalon Calhoun may have a scorable opening on the field this game. Bobo touts the most receptions of the Duke team but only one touchdown. He will look to even out that stat disparity Saturday.

Despite a challenging season for the Blue Devils, they do have talented players. Shaka Heyward is sixth in the ACC with 88 tackles. DeWayne Carter is tied for sixth in the ACC for forced fumbles. Durant is second in rushing yards. Bobo and Calhoun share catches and still have 675-plus receiving yards each. But can all these skilled, moving parts secure the win Saturday afternoon? We will see. 


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