Stopping Duke’s running backs will be key for Miami football

Nov 30, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
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Stopping Duke running backs Mataeo Durant and Deon Jackson will be a challenge for the defense for the Miami football team on Saturday.

Duke running backs Mataeo Durant and Deon Jackson are 10th and 11th in the ACC in rushing this season. Stopping Durant and Jackson will be critical for the Miami football team to earn a victory in Durham on Saturday night. The tandem in the Duke backfield poses a formidable challenge for the Hurricanes defense.

Durant has 97 carries for 642 yards for an average of 71.33 yards per game with seven rushing TDs. Jackson has 138 carries for 634 yards for an average of 70.44 yards per game with four TDs. Both Jackson and Durant have contributed as receivers. Jackson has 10 receptions for 85 yards and Durant nine for 107 and a TD.

Jackson burned Miami in 2018 in a Duke win. In a 20-12 Duke win in the rain at Hard Rock Stadium in 2018, Jackson had 14 carries for 113 and a TD and one reception for nine yards. Miami did a better job containing Jackson and the Blue Devils ground game in 2019.

Jackson had 14 carries for 44 yards and a TD in a 27-17 Blue Devils victory in Durham last season. Duke quarterback Quentin Harris had 23 carries for 49 yards. Durant exploited Miami in 2019 with seven carries for 59 yards. After serving as the primary backup to Jackson in 2019, Durant has earned near even split in carries in 2020.

Duke QB Chase Brice is not the threat running that Harrison was last season. Brice has only 76 carries for 63 yards this season that include yardage lost on sacks. Brice gives Duke a greater threat passing. Brice joined Duke this season as a graduate transfer from Clemson.

Miami did a good job stopping the Blue Devils running game last season. Duke ran 48 times for 131 yards and two TDs in the victory. In 2018, Duke ran for nearly five yards per carry against Miami with 30 attempts for 146 yards and one TD.

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Durant and Jackson pose a bigger challenge for the Miami run defense than the Duke numbers overall. Duke ranks 10th in the ACC averaging 158.11 rushing yards per game and with 4.02 yards per carry. The Miami run defense has been pretty stout in 2020. Miami ranks fifth in the ACC allowing 149.5 rushing yards per game.