When you are talking about the Duke defense in 2009, you can start with Vinnie Rey. The senior linebacker is ready to bring it to the field this season and will be counted on to ease the loss of All ACC teammate Michael Tauiliili. Rey was a defensive star last season for the Blue Devils and at times is a tackling machine. Blue Devil Nation took in spring practice and was able to talk with Rey and get his thoughts on the linebacking unit and more -
Coach Cutcliffe just said that he sees you stepping up on this team and being a leader. What are your thoughts on that?
In terms of being a vocal leader, that just comes with confidence. It means watching film and listening to what Coach wants and carry that to the field. We have other linebackers that are leaders like Damian Thornton, Abraham Kromah and Adam Banks. We watch a lot of film and we are working a lot and that brings confidence that allows us to play fast and be vocal on the field. That's from Coach Mac [Macintyre], he teaches us to do these things. Personally, I feel a lot more confident on the field.
This is your second year or spring under Coach Cut.
I feel that the difference from last year is there is another step we have to take. coaches are demanding a lot from us be it conditioning, playing fast, mental toughness on the field. Even if you might be tired or hurt not to show that which is something I have to work on. Just to be able to take the extra step and get better and better.
Some of the pundits are already saying the line backers could be a weak spot on defense. What do you think of the guys you have been working with this spring?
Well, to tell you the truth, we feel we can be one of the best units in the ACC. Our goal is to be the best bar none and it's all about bringing it every day which we continue to try and do. Every day we bring the intensity to the field - we make some mistakes, but as long as the intensity is there you can build off that. I don't see any reason why we can't be one of the best units on this team if not the best.
In the back of your mind are you already thinking about Richmond (home opener)?
(smiling) I do sometimes! One of our quotes is we prepare for Saturday today ... Saturday in 2009. We are thinking about them a little bit, but we are also thinking about stopping the guys on our offensive side in practice. We have to think about going up against the offensive line and beating them every play. How are we going to beat Richmond if we don't practice winning in practice?
Speaking of the offensive line, there were some major losses there. What has it been like going up against those guys so far this spring?
We have had some battles with them. I don't know that much about the trenches but toughness is a big issue. They've knocked us on the ground sometimes getting pancakes on us, but we've knocked them back sometimes. There has been some battles. All this stuff about linebackers or the offensive line being a weakness - we don't even care, we just go out and work hard every day. We'll see what happens when all is said and done.
Talk a little bit about your coaches ...
Coach Cu [Cutcliffe] t gives us several fundamental quotes and statements and we just go about it. Coach [Mike] Macintyre? He preaches hawking the ball. We have a board in our meeting room which shows how many times you hawked the ball and if your numbers are bad on the board it's kind of embarrassing, so you want to get those numbers high. That's an incentive to go out and hawk the ball every day.
And the bottom line is ...
We know how to work better. We know how to bring it. So, we bring it every day. One thing Coach Cut always says is you are either going to get better or you are going to get worse and I feel that we are getting better every day.