With kickoff to the opening game with Richmond just 25 days away, Coach David Cutcliffe addressed the media this morning. He discussed various subjects, but we’ll just give you a general recap –
The freshman class - Cutcliffe was encouraged by the play of his freshman class. In fact, towards the end of the session he stated that there would be several on the two deep chart going into the season. “Freshman will play,” said Cutcliffe who continued, “If we are going to play them, we are going to play them. I don;t like playing a freshman and then him playing five or ten plays. I’d prefer to redshirt a number of them and we will to some degree if we are able to, but we’ve got some guys already who will end up in our two deep.
Youth – The Blue Devils sport 38 true and or redshirt freshman on the roster. There is some inexperience but the general feel is that there has been an upgrade in the type of player Duke now has on it’s roster.
Full Pads – Duke dressed in full pads for the first time today.
Spirit – The players are upbeat about the coming season which Cutcliffe mentioned. The upbeat nature was clearly evident when talking with players.
Kicking game - Nick Maggio is coming back off surgery to his face and is now getting some reps. Cutcliffe lauded Kevin Jone punting abilities. Jackson Anderson and Chris Shannon are battling for the long snapper job, while the aforementioned Jones leads as the holder on extra points.
Off season emphasis – The Duke players felt like conditioning is still important, but there has been a lot of work in the area of strength conditioning. Cutcliffe wants his players to build core strength. “Our team is just stronger and that’s not just lineman and body weight. It’s lean muscle mass. It’s Johnny Williams and Donovan Varner being able to practice all the time.”
Re’quan Boyette – Cutcliffe said he looks ready to go but that he would only give him so many snaps going into the season.
Jay Hollignsworth – I love to see how he attacks people with the ball. He’s a good runner and reciever,” said Cutcliffe. He also mentioned that Boyette and Holligsworth were the starters.
Saturday scrimmage - Duke will hold a closed scrimmage this Saturday and Cutcliffe said that he wanted to separate the men’s from the boys and see who wants to play. Cutcliffe said the play calling and schemes would be basic in an effort to see which players showed they can play.
Offensive line concerns – Many questions were asked about the offensive line. Cutcliffe was pleased with Brian Moore and said Jarrod Holt had played both the guard and tackle spots. Pontus Bondeson has missed some reps due to injury. “It’s an area of concern and everybody should realize that,” said Cutcliffe. Conner Irwin a redshirt freshman is expected to move into the number two spot at tackle. There is just one senior on the offensive line.
Kick return game – “I really like running backs there,” said Cutcliffe. “We’ll look at Re’quan Boyette and Jay Hollingsworth back there,” said Cutcliffe. “Desmond Scott may work himself into some playing time there, but no decision has been made yet.” Cutcliffe mentioned that Hollingsworth has improved his overall speed.
Punt return – Lee Butler, Leon Wright and Johnny Williams are vying for the spot.
Vinnie Rey -” He’s the heart of our football team,” said Cutcliffe. Michael Tauliliili had Vinnie Rey, but who will Vinnie have?
Linebackers – “Those four freshman linebackers are good looking prospects. How we move forward with that will be real interesting in finding out who earns playing time,” said Cutliffe after lauding his starters. “It’s a critical are for some freshman to step up for us.”
We’ll have more on Duke Football from Cutcliffe’s last tour stop to interviews from current players this week. BDN is the place to be for pre season football coverage.