1- Dominate the Line of Scrimmage
It's unusual to read about Duke having legit football players as the school is known for its basketball prowess but the Blue Devils certainly have difference makers on their defensive line in Greg Akinbiyi and Vince Oghobaase. Miami's offensive line needs to keep these two in check for 60 minutes in order to have success in Durham. Akinbiyi has been a disruptive force all year recording seven tackles for loss and two sacks over five games. While Oghobaase's two tackles for loss and one sack are not eye popping stats, he is a talented force up front that the Canes need to contain. The Miami defensive line needs to have a big day in the trenches as well. Duke's quarterback, Thaddeus Lewis, is a Miami product with tons of talent. The Canes need to disrupt his rhythm and force him to make bad decisions.
2- Pound the ball
Miami needs to run the ball against the Blue Devils. The return of Javarris James brings back a much needed veteran back that was missed over the past four games. Combine him with Graig Cooper who has shown flashes of brilliance this season and the Canes have a potent running game that could have a big day against the Blue Devils. A successful day on the ground will take the pressure off Robert Marve and Jacory Harris as well as open up opportunities to throw the ball. This would be excellent for Miami's young quarterbacks, especially Marve who is coming off a disappointing performance against UCF.
1- Stop Duke's running game
Whenever Miami's defense plays well, the Canes usually play well as a team. Duke is a very one-dimensional football team and doesn't have much of a running game. That's why it's extra important this week for Miami to shut it down and take it away. If the Blue Devils are able to run the ball effectively, which it hasn't done to anyone all season, it will be a long day for the Canes. If they can't run, Miami's defense can pin its ears back and hopefully come up with big plays on that side of the ball -- sacks, turnovers, etc.
2- Win third down
The defense, again, did a much better job of third down last week and it'll need to keep playing well that way. However, it's the offense that needs to step up in those situations. Hopefully with a healthy dose and Graig Cooper and Javarris James, Miami will have more realistic third down situations than in recent weeks. Still, the Canes will get better and score more points when they become more successful in converting third downs. If they're unable to do it today, it will be a long day (again) for the offense.