If you watched Miami put on a football clinic against Duke Saturday night, you would have no idea it had been three weeks since the Hurricanes last played a football game.
Dominating in every aspect of the game, Miami steamrolled the Blue Devils 48-0 in Durham, North Carolina in its first game since Nov. 14.
The Hurricanes (8-1, 7-1) forced five turnovers and held Duke scoreless, the first shutout in a conference game since 2001 against Syracuse. The win was also the biggest victory margin Miami has had in the 17 years of being in the ACC.
“Defense from the opening kickoff was spectacular,” said Miami head coach Manny Diaz. “Obviously Duke has had an issue with turning the ball over, to get five turnovers, it’s the kind of feel where the Turnover Chain became a household name in 2017.”
Miami was without three starting defenders and a total of 15 players were listed as unavailable for the game, primarily because of Covid-19.
Quarterback D’Eriq King, who was one of the players that contracted Covid-19, led Miami offensively with three passing touchdowns on 248 yards and completed 16 for 24 passes, while he rushed for 46 yards on 11 attempts and one rushing touchdown.
Three receivers — Mike Harley, Brevin Jordan and Dee Wiggins — scored one touchdown each and running back Cam’Ron Harris torched the Duke defense with 100 rushing yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.
With 524 total yards of offense, it looked as if Miami didn’t miss a beat in the three weeks away from the playing field because of the Covid-19 outbreak within the program.
“Every time it’s been the darkest time, these guys have stepped up and stepped up in a big week,” Diaz said. “We had a really good week and they put it out there in the game.”
Tight end Brevin Jordan stuck first for the Hurricanes, catching his first touchdown pass since Sept. 26 against Florida State, with a 24-yard pass from King. Cam’Ron Harris rushed for a 34-yard touchdown and King finished out scoring in the first half with an 11-yard rush to put the Canes up 21-0 at halftime.
For a team that usually starts slow, Diaz was worried his team may be able to “handle the adversity of being up,” but the team managed to put his worries at ease.
Senior receiver Dee Wiggins scored early in the third quarter on a two-yard pass from King. King followed up by throwing an 89-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Mike Harley. Harris scored his second touchdown on a one-yard rush after Miami forced a turnover and Jose Borregales made a 52-yard field goal to push the lead to 48-0.
Diaz credits the connection the players have with one another for keeping spirits up and coming out strong after so much time off.
“There is some connection, the sacrifices that the team has had to make, that has brought them closer together,” Diaz said. “They really like playing for each other. They wanted to finish and that’s why at practice this week, the enthusiasm was outstanding. I give all the credit to the personalities we have in this locker room.”
This sentiment was evident in King’s words post game. The graduate transfer quarterback said “I love this team and I am so glad I came here. Finishing the right way is really, really important. We are still taking it one game at a time.”
With the victory, the Hurricanes will likely be in lead contention to make a New Year’s Six bowl game. With Clemson’s victory over Virginia Tech earlier, Miami was eliminated from ACC Championship contention and the Tiger will face Notre Dame for the conference title.
Miami are scheduled to face the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday, Dec. 12 at Hard Rock Stadium.