Don’t tell the Hurricanes that there isn’t anything to play for.
With Georgia Tech clinching a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game, the Hurricanes 7-3 (4-3) will look to take out their frustration on the Duke Blue Devils 5-5 (3-3) at the final game at Land Shark Stadium Saturday at 12 p.m. The Canes will look to boost their resume in order to go to a notable bowl game.
“Duke is our last game in the conference, our last at Land Shark Stadium this season,” head coach Randy Shannon said. “It’s also the seniors’ last opportunity to play at home. It’s a special time because of the seniors. This class has done a lot for us.”
In spite of throwing a career high with four interceptions last week against North Carolina and wearing a soft cast on his throwing hand this week, sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris is ready and expected to play against Duke.
The Hurricanes need Harris to forget about the Tar Heels and worry about putting on one of his best performances of the season against Duke.
“People want to see how we bounce back from this tough loss at North Carolina and you want to win your last game at home,” Harris said, who will wear a protective wrap over his right hand against Duke. “We want to win out.”
The blame for the two interceptions that were return for touchdowns should not all fall on Harris. Inconsistent senior right tackle Matt Pipho allowed his defender twice to get a shot on Harris and affected his pass on the two interceptions.
Last week, Harris was sacked twice and was hit or pressured 11 times. The offensive line must step up on pass protection to protect Harris.
“We have to protect Jacory,” senior center A.J. Trump said. “We cannot afford for him to get hit or anything that can affect his play.”
Miami holds a 5-1 series lead against a Duke team that hasn’t won a bowl game since 1960. Steve Spurrier was the last coach to bring Duke to a string of consecutive winning seasons, back in the late 1980s.
However, in the past two years, second-year head coach David Cutcliffe has made Duke competitive and they are one win away from being bowl-eligible.
But Harris refuses to let Duke become eligible to play at a bowl against the Canes. Last season, Miami picked up a 49-31 win under the arm of Harris as he threw a career-high four touchdowns and had his first coming-out party.
The Blue Devils will come in ranked ninth in the nation in passing offense with 297 yards per game and will be lead by quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, who is a Miami native.
“I told [Lewis] he can’t expect to get a bowl appearance win against us,” Harris said. “We’re not going to take it easy on him.”
The Canes defense has stepped it up in the past two weeks. The Hurricanes are allowing only 239 total yards in the past two weeks.
“The last two weeks we have played very well on defense,” Shannon said. “We can only care about how much better we get week to week. Duke is our only focus right now.”
The game will be broadcasted live on 90.5 FM or it can be streamed across the globe on wvum.org.
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.