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Hurricanes Ready for Return to Wallace Wade Stadium

Hurricanes Ready for Return to Wallace Wade Stadium

By David Villavicencio

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – It will be a familiar scene on Friday night at Wallace Wade Stadium.
The Miami Hurricanes (2-0) will face the Duke Blue Devils (4-0, 1-0 ACC) in Durham, N.C., for the first time since the “Miracle in Durham” – an eight-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown on the final play of the 2015 meeting between the two ACC foes that resulted in an improbable Miami victory, 30-27.
“You just don’t ever dream that something like that can happen in a game,” Miami head coach Mark Richt said. “When you get to that point, you feel like the game is over, if you’re a coach. You know you have to get him on the ground. If you block a kick return perfect and it hits the seam and there it goes, you could imagine that could possibly happen. But slinging it around I don’t know how many times they slung it, you’re just like, ‘There’s no way.’ Once it gets into the razzle-dazzle kind of play, it’s not going to end good for the offensive team, but it did.”

Corn Elder’s game-winning kick return was the punctuation to Miami’s victory in 2015, but it was Malik Rosier’s play at quarterback that helped the Hurricanes battle for four quarters with a 22nd-ranked Duke team. Rosier, who was making his first career start in place of an injured Brad Kaaya, completed 20 of 29 passes for 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Blue Devils.

“Obviously it’s a different scenario, but having some experience before with that Duke game should give him some confidence coming in,” Miami offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “He had his first win as a quarterback against Duke at that time. It’s a new year, new team, new Miami, new Duke, so we’ll see what happens this week.”
Rosier enters this week’s matchup off an impressive performance against Toledo, completing a career-high 27 of 36 passes for a career-best 333 yards and tying his career-best with three passing touchdowns and an interception. The redshirt junior, who also ran for a touchdown against the Rockets, led Miami to a 42-point second half performance in his first game in 21 days.
“The great thing about Malik is he’s always a calm, cool, collected guy,” Brown said. “I think, at times, may throw people off like, ‘is he serious or not?’ But I think he definitely is and I think he shows that with his production. He never gets rattled, never gets too high and never gets too low, stays consistent. I think that showed on Saturday.”

The No. 14/13 Hurricanes will open ACC play at 7 p.m., Friday and they will face a Duke team that is receiving votes in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls.
“I know it’s the first game that counts in conference play for us,” Richt said. “It’s a very big game. It’s a Coastal [Division] game and we’re playing an undefeated football team, so we better get ready.”
Head coach David Cutcliffe is in his 10th season at the helm of the Blue Devils’ program, building them from an ACC afterthought in football to a team that is consistently qualifying for bowl games. Richt believes Duke will present challenges on both sides of the ball when the two teams faceoff Friday night.
“When you think of Duke, a lot of times you think of offensive football and you still should, with Coach [David] Cutcliffe being the leader and being the guy that trains quarterbacks,” Richt said. “If you know anything about that, some of the greatest quarterbacks in college pro football history he has coached and developed, and he’s doing the same thing with Daniel Jones. But defensively, the numbers are very, very impressive. They’re not even giving up 300 yards per game. I think giving up maybe 16 or 17 out of 50 third-down conversions. People are rushing for 60 or 70 yards…sometimes rushing is really low because you throw for 400 [yards] on them-type defense, and it’s not that. They’re not giving up a lot of yards passing either.

“The thing that I saw as I turned on the tape was just great fundamental defense – guys taking on blocks and defeating blocks, guys tackling very well in space,” Richt said. “When you think about it, they’ve played four games. It’s not like a one-game or two-game stat we’re talking about. We’re talking about four games. We’re talking about playing Northwestern, Baylor and North Carolina. It’s very impressive what they’re doing on defense. They’ve always been impressive to me offensively. I’ll sneak and watch tape of them in the offseason to look for good ideas, because I know Coach Cutcliffe and his staff do a great job in that regard.”

Miami’s defense was tested by Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside a week ago, but Jones presents a different challenge. While he is a talented passer, he also is known to use his legs to beat opponents.
 “I think Daniel is more of a runner – not to say he’s not a good passer,” Richt said. “I think he runs the ball extremely well. Sometimes a quarterback runs because it presents itself. Sometimes there’s quarterback run that you predetermine that the quarterback will run the ball. There’s more of that in Duke’s offense, that I see. As far as a guy who can stand in there and zing the ball, I know a year ago, I think he hit the first 10 passes in a row or something like that. He’s a really good passer.”

Tyler Gauthier was a freshman when the Hurricanes last traveled to Duke and he has vivid memories of the Halloween night matchup against the Blue Devils. But the junior offensive lineman expects this year’s game to be even more exciting.

“I think it will be an even better atmosphere,” Gauthier said. “They are undefeated, we are undefeated, and this is our first Coastal game, this is the one that means a lot. The coaches are preaching that throughout the entire practice: ‘This is the game that is very important to us.'”