The offense had its highest scoring game of the season last week against Florida State, but the Devils still fell short of the Seminoles in a 51-24 defeat.
A shorthanded Miami team is this week's opponent, and Duke will need this week's HOT 11 players if the Blue Devils hope to pull off what would be a major shot in the arm upset of the Hurricanes.
Week 7 HOT 11
Eron Riley-The sophomore wideout continues to provide a consistent receiving presence for Duke's oft struggling passing game. He's had two straight games with a touchdown catch and is coming off a 110-yard game against Florida State. While a big chunk of that yardage came on Duke's final offensive play with less than 10 seconds remaining, he's still the closest thing to a weekly threat in Duke's receiving corps. He'll be going against a Miami secondary that has taken some hits from the suspensions handed down after last week's brawl against Florida International. The Blue Devils would love to get another 100 yards and a touchdown from Riley this week.
John Talley-Duke's All-ACC corner had a week to remember last Saturday with a pair of interceptions including one for a touchdown. He is now the ACC's all time leader in interception return yardage and needs five more interceptions to tie Dre Bly for the all time in the conference. He did get beat a couple of times last week also playing against much taller FSU wideouts, but some of that can be attributed to playing a little bit banged up. Ted Roof expects his top corner to be fully healthy for kickoff against Miami.
Thaddeus Lewis-His completion percentage wasn't outstanding against Florida State, but Lewis had his second passing game of more than 250 yards in his short career. It was also good to see Lewis have a game without an interception following his five combined interceptions against Virginia and Alabama. With Ronnie Drummer healthy again and becoming a bigger factor in the passing attack, Lewis has a new toy to play with as well, which bodes well for his continued development. Now if he can just master the art of the QB/center exchange.
Mike Tauiliili-Mike T. hasn't had a bunch of spectacular plays this season, but he continues to be all over the field on a weekly basis. Tauiliili is averaging just a shade under eight tackles a game and he had one tackle for loss against FSU that went for minus six yards. His tackle total is slightly down from last year, but part of that can be attributed to Duke having an improved and deeper defensive front four. Less ball carriers are getting by Duke's front line.
Jabari Marshall-There's no question Marshall is becoming one of the ACC's most exciting kickoff return specialists. He's had a number of high quality returns and the sophomore broke a 67 yarder against the Seminoles last week. Having a threat at that spot is huge for a team like Duke, which has struggled all year to move the ball on a long field. Marshall has gotten steadily better at following his blockers and it's a good bet that he will make a couple of more big plays on special teams before the end of the season.
Vince Oghobaase-Big Vince has been missing from this group for the last few weeks, but he definitely earned a spot this week with a ferocious safety against Florida State. Oghobaase stormed through the line to throw Lorenzo Booker for a loss three yards deep in the end zone to put two points on the board for the Blue Devils. It was his only tackle of the game but he sure got his money's worth. Oghobaase's full contributions this year don't show up in just the tackle count. His mere presence alters the entire approach opposing offenses have to take. Oghobaase will have to be a key cog in Duke's efforts to stop Miami running back Javarris James.
Leon Wright-Duke's freshman jitterbug got hurt in the Florida State game but Roof said earlier this week that he is 'hopeful' that Wright will play this weekend against Miami. It would be a big boost if he can play and contribute, because Wright got his first career interception against the Seminoles and he has become Duke's top punt returner. With Miami punter Brian Monroe suspended for the game due to the fight, Hurricane freshman Daren Daly will handle the punting chores. Daly has never punted in a college game, which could mean some very returnable punts for Wright to handle.
Ronnie Drummer-Drummer's presence makes a huge difference for Duke's offense and it's plain as day. The junior devil back caught six passes last week for 72 yards and he continues to be a threat on end arounds and misdirection plays. Duke efforts each week to get him the ball in open space and that will be the case again against Miami. He touched the ball 11 times in the Florida State game. With his big play ability, that number may rise closer to 15 touches this Saturday. He's still looking for his first touchdown of the season, but one has to assume it will only be a matter of time before he gets it.
Justin Boyle-Boyle is a guy Duke desperately needs to be more productive. He's had a tough time finding much running room this season and so far is averaging just 19 rushing yards per game. It will probably be tough sledding again this week against Miami's defensive front, but if he can churn three or four yards per carry, it could soften the Hurricanes just enough to help Lewis get better pass protection as well as more opportunities off play action. Boyle did score a touchdown against Florida State, solidifying himself as Duke's top option inside the five yard line.
Casey Camero-We mentioned it above with Oghobaase, but Duke has to slow down Hurricane running back Javarris James. The freshman is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and Duke can greatly improve its chances by keeping James from breaking free. Camero will need to have a big hand in achieving that goal, as Duke's defensive front will once again be without Eli Nichols who continues to nurse a knee injury. Camero's numbers so far this year have been pretty low, but he is an overall more effective player because of added strength and the fact that he doesn't have to play nearly as many snaps per game as he has had to in the past.
Codey Lowe-The fifth year senior linebacker followed up his impressive game at Alabama with another good outing against Florida State. He had just three tackles, but two of them were for big losses, combining for 15 yards. It's good to see Lowe having a productive fifth year, especially after last season ended all too soon for him with an early season injury. Lowe will be on the prowl again this week, trying to get in the backfield and chase down Kyle Wright.
Moved in: Oghobaase, Wright, Drummer, Boyle