Duke football is looking to rebound after falling to North Carolina last weekend, 38-35. It has a prime opportunity to do that on Saturday as it heads down to Miami for a date with the Hurricanes. The Blue Zone has three keys for a Blue Devil victory:
Run, Riley, run
Duke quarterback Riley Leonard has turned into one of the more efficient passers in the ACC. His completion percentage of 66% is third-best in the conferences, three places ahead of Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke. But what makes Leonard truly lethal is his presence in the running game. The sophomore ranks sixth in the ACC in rushing yards, and although the Miami defense has been stout against the run, dual-threat quarterbacks have been a thorn in their side. Leonard ran for 130 yards against rival North Carolina last week, and a scheme of designed quarterback runs and read options paired with a loaded running back room should open the door for play action passes.
The Blue Devils should look to capitalize on the long ball against a Hurricanes team that has allowed 15.5 yards per completion. The Duke wide receiver corps is especially adept at gaining large chunks of yards—seven Blue Devils have at least 13 yards per reception and the team ranks fourth in the ACC with 11 passing plays of 30 yards or more. On the other side of the ball, Duke has to limit the big plays as well. Van Dyke is starting to look like the first-round draft pick he was projected to be, and the Blue Devils have allowed 11.9 yards per completion. In this battle, Duke will live or die by the big play ball.
Keep the gas on
The tale of the Blue Devils' past two losses has been too little too late, as seen in the Georgia Tech game, and an inability to hold onto a lead late in games, as evidenced by their heartbreaking loss to the Tar Heels last week. Duke is going to have to play a full 60 minutes of football to be victorious against a Miami team with growing confidence. The early-season recipe for success was to start hot, and once a sizeable lead was taken, pound the rock. If the Blue Devils can play smart football from start to finish, utilize Leonard’s legs and convert on big plays, the Hurricanes should clear up into a sunny day in South Florida for Duke.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.