UM News & Notes: 10/13

Miami coach Randy Shannon picked up on the same theme he expressed after the loss to Florida State as the Hurricanes began preparations for their game at Duke.

That is, despite the loss to Florida State and as embarrassing as the 45-17 thumping might be, the Hurricanes still have the chance to get to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game by winning the Coastal Division.

The loss to the Seminoles left the Hurricanes 1-1 in the conference, but the game at Duke will be the first against a division foe for the Hurricanes.

"The greatest thing about is that everybody we play from here on is all in our side of the division," Shannon said. "You're controlling your own destiny and how you play it."

That's not quite right because Miami still has a game against Maryland of the Atlantic Division, but the Hurricanes' other five games are all against Coastal foes.

That includes possible contenders North Carolina, which comes to Miami on Oct. 23; Georgia Tech on the road Nov. 13; Virginia Tech at home Nov. 20. The other division game is against Virginia on Oct. 30.

Win those and the Hurricanes will make it to their first ACC title game since joining the conference in 2004. That's the message Shannon is emphasizing to his players.

"Like I told them, each game becomes important," Shannon said. "Each opportunity that you have you've got to capitalize on it. Playing Duke is going to be an opportunity for us.

"It's an opportunity for us to get better and also to capitalize on something that is a goal down the road and we can achieve if we stay focused on the things we need to get done."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Duke is the second-most productive passing team in the ACC and will be facing a Miami defense that is No. 1 in the conference against the pass. The Blue Devils are averaging 295.2 passing yards per game, the Hurricanes yielding only 143.4.
--Miami is the most penalized team in the ACC with 43 penalties for 343 yards (8.6 penalties per game). Florida State actually has more penalties for more yardage (44 for 406) but has played one more game and is averaging 7.3 penalties per game. Duke has been penalized only 23 times for 225 yards and is third in the conference.
--The Hurricanes are looking at changes in special teams after having coverage problems against Florida State, which averaged better than 36 yards on four kickoff returns. Coach Randy Shannon said there would be changes in personnel both on kickoff coverage and punt return teams but did not reveal what the changes will be.

SERIES HISTORY: Miami leads Duke 6-1 (last meeting, 2009, 34-16 Miami).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Hurricanes are rushing for only 147 ypg, which ranks seventh in the ACC. TB Damien Berry, however, is fourth among league rushers at 85.6 ypg. QB Jacory Harris went without an interception in the opener but has thrown nine over the last four games. His favorite target is WR Leonard Hankerson (28 receptions for 460 yards).

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: FSU shredded the Miami defense for 298 yards rushing, helped along by a 90-yard breakaway touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes are giving up 164.2 ypg after that debacle. They still lead the country in tackles for loss (9.6 per game) and tied for fourth in sacks (3.4).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I felt good. I was excited to be back out there." -- RB Graig Cooper, after playing against Florida State, his first game back since injuring an ankle in the opener.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Miami at Duke, Oct. 16 -- Duke has been troublesome for the Hurricanes in games played in Durham, and the Hurricanes are hardly coming into the game on a high note after the 45-17 shellacking by Florida State in their last outing. But the Hurricanes should have enough to get by a Blue Devils team that has lost four in a row since an opening win over Elon. The Hurricanes are looking to go 2-1 in ACC play.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Have some early success. The Hurricanes had their confidence shaken in their loss to Florida State and need to have something good happen to keep Duke from making a game of it. The secondary will face a challenge from Duke WRs Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner, who are 1-2 in the conference in receiving with a combined 65 catches in five games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

- RB Damien Berry -- Berry leads the Hurricanes in rushing with 454 yards and usually gets a heavy workload early. He also can catch balls out of the backfield with seven receptions for 78 yards on the season.
- LB Sean Spence -- Spence is Miami's leading tackler (44 stops) and is a big-play guy on defense. He has 1.5 sacks among his 9.0 tackles for loss and has broken up three passes and forced a fumble.
- CB Brandon Harris -- With Duke's emphasis on the passing game, Harris and his cohorts in the secondary look to be busy, very busy. Harris is credited with only two pass breakups, but that is largely because opponents like to look elsewhere when he's on the field.

ROSTER REPORT:

--QB Jacory Harris (groin) is expected to play. He appeared hobbled by a groin injury early in the loss to Florida State but was in until Miami's final series.
--RB Graig Cooper (ankle), who played against Florida State, could see more time against Duke. He was in for kickoff returns and had two runs for 22 yards against the Seminoles.
--OG Joel Figueroa (shoulder) is questionable against Duke. He did not play against Florida State.
--RB Lamar Miller (shoulder) missed the game against Florida State and is questionable for Duke.


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