After a two week hiatus, the Hurricanes came out strong last week in a win over Toledo. This week they were on upset watch as they visited the undefeated Duke Blue Devils. David Cutcliffe has the Blue Devils looking better than ever in their 4-0 upstart as the offense has clicked on all cylinders.
Redshirt Sophomore QB Daniel Jones has engineered Duke’s offense and has garnered some serious draft buzz in the process. Friday night served as his toughest test of the season as Miami’s defense boasts crazy talent all over the field, and they’re mostly underclassmen. While Jones has been labeled a Day 2 QB prospect, he certainly didn’t live up to the billing in this one.
RB Mark Walton, Junior
Walton continues to impress me and climb up my board as the season progresses. While Walton is a home run hitter and is a threat to score on every play, he also runs with great power and gets yards after contact. The Hurricanes consistently turned to Walton throughout the game whenever receivers were not getting open or the passing game stalled and Walton is able to keep his legs churning to extend drives. Walton also showed that he has an all-around game and had several nice blitz pickups and catches out of the backfield. On one rep in the second quarter, Walton took the run to the left and the hole was quickly closed by the Blue Devils defensive line but he cut it back to the right, made a defender who came flying in in run support miss and get a key first down. In the second quarter, Walton made a nice play on a drag route from in the backfield to accelerate upfield, jump over a diving potential tackler and break away down the sideline, eventually being forced out. On another rep in the third quarter the Hurricanes lined Walton up in the backfield and had him run an in-breaking route where he blazed by his man and turned upfield and created yards after the catch. He is a legitimate potential top 50 player for me and is right in the mix to be in the top five at the position in the second tier with Nick Chubb and Ronald Jones.
WR Lawrence Cager, Redshirt Sophomore
Cager suffered a torn ACL last season and his name has flown under the radar in the college football community as a result, but as a legit 6’4” and 215 pounds he impresses me with his route running and athleticism at the catch point. On a play in the first quarter, Cager ran a crossing route and connected with Malik Rosier to adjust and make a great catch on a low ball. While I don’t think Cager should declare and he still has two years of eligibility left, his flashes this year should continue to develop and become more commonplace as he continues to grow.
WR Braxton Berrios, Senior
Entering the night I viewed Berrios off of a limited sample size as a player who would profile as a punt returner and gunner at the next level, but exiting it, I think he has a good chance to be similar to someone like Trent Taylor or Adam Humphries at the next level. Berrios does a very good job of creating separation in and out of his breaks, especially on crossing and slant patterns and has very reliable hands. Berrios set the tone early in the first quarter on the Hurricanes’ first touchdown drive, finding a hole in the zone coverage and making a nice catch in the back of the end zone as the safety could not recover. He also made a nice grab on one of the Miami drives before the half, planting with his left foot and a hard head fake to beat the defensive back on the corner route and dove for the end zone, getting knocked out at the three-yard line. On the last drive of the third quarter for Miami, Berrios beat his man so bad with a step to the inside that he was forced to hook his left arm in a last-ditch effort and drew the pass interference call. I’ll need to see it extrapolated over his full tape when I sit down and evaluate him from a draft perspective, but he impressed me a lot tonight.
TE Chris Herndon IV, Senior
I’ve been lower than most on Herndon in the college football sphere and his disappointing season continued tonight. There really wasn’t a single rep that Herndon stood out or made me notice him on at all. For a guy who is limited as a blocker and profiled as a move piece receiving tight end at the next level, Herndon has failed to break out yet this year despite getting the lion’s share of the reps at the position with David Njoku now in the NFL.
OT K.C. McDermott, Senior
McDermott was a player who I viewed as a late Day 3 prospect to begin with but this game diminished my confidence in him even more so. He was consistently pushed around at the point of attack and I think he lacks the play strength to play tackle at the next level.
iDL Kendrick Norton, Junior
Norton solidified his status for me as a potential top 50 prospect in this class as a three-technique. He was held back all night by the rest of his defensive line not being able to get off their blocks but was living in the backfield and was very disruptive. On one play just before the half, Duke was driving and threatening to score. On a key third down, Daniel Jones stepped up in the pocket and started to scramble into green grass and would have gotten a first down, but Norton discarded his blocker, disengaged and yanked him down behind the line of scrimmage. Norton had the best performance of any player on the field tonight and should look to dominate the weak Florida State interior line next week.
iDL RJ McIntosh, Junior
While McIntosh will be forgotten after this game, overshadowed by his teammate Norton, he too was disruptive and had a sack and several plays in the backfield. McIntosh certainly should not declare but his name is one to put a star next to for next year as a highly productive guy.
EDGE Chad Thomas, Senior
Entering the season I thought Thomas came off as stiff and lacked the hip and ankle flexion to turn the corner and beat offensive tackles with twitch. Thomas is a player who flashes for around five reps a game but is then nonexistent usually for the rest of the contest, and that was true again tonight. He has a very nice swim move sack where he beat the center off the snap and got around him quickly before Daniel Jones could react or reset, but struggled for much of the night to get off his blocks. He continues to be a Day 3 prospect who you can try to salvage those strengths from but does not seem like a guy who should be getting significant reps at the next level.
Duke Blue Devils
QB Daniel Jones, Redshirt Sophomore
This week Duke’s Daniel Jones garnered some draft discussion as DraftInsider.com’s Tony Pauline reported that some scouts he has discussed with had Jones as a Day 2 NFL prospect: “The steady, efficient quarterback outplayed the more notable Clayton Thorson during the Blue Devils’ lambasting of Northwestern in Week 2.” That being said, Jones certainly didn’t look the part tonight, though his supporting cast and offensive line did him no favors. Jones struggled under pressure and had erratic-at-best accuracy overall, but there were several instances where he read the coverage at the line of scrimmage and made an adjustment to find a hole in the defense, especially when diagnosing blitzes, if there’s anything for him to salvage from tonight.
iDL Mike Ramsay, Redshirt Senior
Ramsay was barely on my roster entering the season but controlled the line of scrimmage and set the tone for the Blue Devils tonight. As a redshirt senior he is a late bloomer but now has 4.5 sacks, 7 TFLs and 3 quarterback hits on the season and is firmly on my radar as a potential rotational player at the next player. Ramsay has powerful hands and can “shuck,” as Joe Marino would say, some offensive lineman and get past them. If there is a bright spot for this Duke team it’s easily Ramsay’s continued emergence as they now sit at
4-1 on the season.
CB Byron Fields, Redshirt Senior
Fields has nice recovery speed and ball skills and had the interception off of Rosier late in the game and profiles as a zone corner at the next level. Considering how few prospects the Blue Devils have, I think he was consistent tonight and may get a look from the postseason All-Star game circuit or perhaps as developmental practice squad player.
Other Players Who Flashed
Miami QB Malik Rosier, Redshirt Junior
Rosier was lights out early and started out by throwing dimes on his first ten or so passes, giving the Hurricanes a 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. He tapered off from there, however, and was pretty average in the final three quarters, throwing a bad pick in garbage time where he had bad mechanics and was hit as he threw it, sailing it over Ahmmon Richards’s head and right into the defender’s hands. While Rosier flashed a lot tonight, he should in no way shape or form be considered a legit draft prospect or be hyped up as such, as it only creates too high of expectations for him.
Miami WR Ahmmon Richards, Sophomore
Richards had an amazing freshman season at Miami, racking up 934 yards on his way to All-ACC honors. Richards tweaked his hamstring and had not played this season before tonight but did not disappoint, gaining 106 receiving yards and catching a long touchdown. Richards missed the third quarter after he re-tweaked his hamstring but came back in the fourth quarter and made the 50-yard touchdown, but was noticeably slower than usual and will need to be monitored entering the Florida State game next week. In the first half, Richards had two phenomenal over the shoulder grabs from Rosier where he tracked the ball over his shoulder and adjusted for both. On the touchdown, Richards ran a slant and was able to accelerate upfield thanks to excellent blocking downfield by his teammates, broke a tackle at the 10 and got into the end zone. While he is not draft eligible, Richards is a name we will be discussing a ton this time next year as a potential top 10 pick.
The Miami Linebackers:
LB Shaq Quarterman, Sophomore
LB Michael Pinckney, Sophomore
LB Zach McCloud, Sophomore
The Hurricanes arguably have the nation’s best set of linebackers in Quarterman, Pinckney and McCloud, all three of which flashed tonight. All three saw significant reps as freshmen and racked up 182 tackles and 21 TFLs between the three of them last season, and each wins in different ways. Quarterman has sideline to sideline speed and has a nose for the football. He shoots gaps quickly and loves to hit, reminding me a lot of former Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. Pinckney excels at diagnosing and reading plays and acting on them to shut them down; on one play tonight the Blue Devils ran a screen to their receiver and Pinckney saw it develop, made a break for the football and got a diving interception. McCloud is probably the “worst” of the three, but is still what I would consider to be a Day 2 prospect at this point and doesn’t have a glaring weakness to his game. All three of these players have potential to go off next season and even if they are not draft eligible, I’ll keep a close eye on them whenever I’m watching “The U” from now on.
Miami WR Ahmmon Richards
Miami iDL Kendrick Norton
Miami LBs Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney
Duke iDL Mike Ramsay