Hurricanes face Duke after program experiences difficult week

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Sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) takes a hit from Clemson defenders in the first quarter of last week's game against Clemson. Kaaya later left the game after getting sacked early in the second quarter. Hallee Meltzer // Photo Editor

Sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) takes a hit from Clemson defenders in the first quarter of last week’s game against Clemson. Kaaya later left the game after getting sacked early in the second quarter. Hallee Meltzer // Photo Editor

The last five days have been tough for the Miami Hurricanes. There was the worst loss in school history on Saturday, the firing of Head Coach Al Golden on Sunday and the unexpected passing of the mother of junior defensive back Artie Burns on Tuesday morning. While the team now has a new coach and is headed in a new direction, it does not mean that things are getting any easier.

In his first game as interim head coach, Larry Scott will lead the Canes into a tough environment in Durham, North Carolina against No. 22 Duke this Saturday night. Making matters worse, starting quarterback sophomore Brad Kaaya could be out while he continues to work his way through the concussion protocol.

The Hurricanes (4-3, 1-2) do not have fond memories of their last trip to Wallace Wade Stadium, where they were dominated in a 48-30 defeat in November of 2013. The Canes played one of their best games of the season against Duke last year in a 22-10 win, but going against the Blue Devils (6-1, 3-0) this time around will be a whole different story.

Before last week, Duke’s defense hadn’t allowed more than 20 points and, even after pulling off a 45-43 win over Virginia Tech in quadruple overtime, the Blue Devils still rank sixth in the nation for points allowed per game. With Kaaya’s status in doubt, Malik Rosier could be in for another long day in the backfield.

Last week, the redshirt freshman threw for only 42 yards and two interceptions on 7-of-22 passing against Clemson. With the Miami run game struggling, Rosier will have to show some signs of progress for the Canes’ offense to have any life.

On the other side of the ball, the Hurricanes’ defense will be hoping that last week was just a fluke and not their new norm. While the Blue Devils thrive off their defense, their offense isn’t too shabby either.

In the team’s last two games, Duke has scored 89 points and totaled 907 yards. Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe’s offense has been having a bit of trouble throwing the ball this season, but they’ve had no problem running it, especially with mobile quarterback Thomas Sirk.

Under defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, the Canes have often struggled against the option and quarterbacks that can make their own plays on the run. After facing a dynamic quarterback in Clemson’s Deshaun Watson last week, the Hurricanes have had plenty of preparation for Sirk.

The Canes are coming off one of the most tumultuous weeks in recent program history, but they still have football to play. The team still has the ACC Coastal Division title in mind and beating Duke would be a crucial step in that direction.

The Hurricanes face Duke at 7 p.m. on Saturday in North Carolina.

 

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