With newfound energy, Duke takes on Miami

After already eclipsing its win total from last season, Duke is clearly showing improvement.

But the Blue Devils are hungry for more, and they’ll look to continue boosting their stock on Saturday when they visit Miami for an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.

Duke (4-3, 1-2 ACC) finished last season with just three wins against nine losses. Former Texas A&M defensive coordinator and first-year head coach Mike Elko has already lit a fire under the Blue Devils, and it was apparent in their game against North Carolina last Saturday.

Duke nearly knocked off UNC, but the Tar Heels scored the go-ahead touchdown with 16 seconds left, winning the game 38-35. Despite the loss, the Blue Devils still showed a lot of fight.

“Couldn’t be more proud with the way we battled,” Elko said. “We knew we were going to have to. We knew it was going to be that kind of game where we were just going to have to keep trying to make plays to keep up with them.”

Miami’s situation is different considering it entered the season as Coastal Division favorites and with top-10 expectations in the national polls.

A three-game losing streak shattered the latter, and a home loss to North Carolina two weeks ago put a huge dent in Miami’s plan to take the Coastal.

However, Miami snapped their losing skid last week with a 20-14 road win over Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes led 20-0 before the Hokies finally scored in the fourth quarter.

Miami coach Mario Cristobal raved about how his team has overcome injuries to several starters, including running back Henry Parrish Jr., wide receivers Key’Shawn Smith, Michael Redding III and Xavier Restrepo, and linebacker Waynmon Steed Jr.

In addition, star tight end Will Mallory left the Virginia Tech game due to a possible concussion.

“To be on the road and still find a way to win, those guys in there deserve all the credit,” Cristobal said of his players. “They deserve all the credit. They deserve the praise for it.”

The Canes will rely heavily on quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who struggled earlier this season. He is now on a roll, though, averaging 419 passing yards over his past two contests.

Van Dyke’s top target is currently Colbie Young, who had nine catches for 110 yards and one touchdown against the Hokies. Running back Jaylan Knighton could also be a factor on Saturday.

Duke sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard is having a breakout season. He is completing 66.0 percent of his passes and thrown for nine touchdowns against four interceptions. He has also rushed for a team-high 420 yards and five TDs.

–Field Level Media