Friday Night Lights: Chris Taylor Interview

Chris Taylor 9-29-13This week's edition mixes things up a bit by starting off with a Chris Taylor interview and then moves on to the normal weekly coverage on the high school action for Duke verbal commits and recruiting targets.

Taylor plays wide receiver for University School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. On Friday night, University defeated Boyd Anderson 50-0, to improve to 6-0 on the season, with Taylor contributing eight receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns. In the interview, Taylor is asked pointed questions and he responds with equally pointed answers, which reveal a lot about what makes him tick as a wide receiver and football player.

In addition to the interview, this week's edition includes comments from quarterbacks Johnathan Lloyd and Nico Pierre, and linebacker Tinashe Bere.

Blue Devil Nation: When previously asked about your strengths as a receiver, you communicated to BDN, "I have an innate ability to stretch the field and press the safties. I also pride myself in good route running." BDN desires to start this interview with a follow-up question: do you prefer to work split wide or in the slot?

Chris Taylor: Although I don't really care where I play when I get to Duke, if I had a preference I would rather play split wide. I am just more comfortable out there and there's less traffic. I can fully impose my will on a defensive back without having to worry about linebackers.

BDN: Okay, following up on our follow-up, what do you see as the advantages and/or disadvantages of working split wide compared to the slot?

CT: Working out wide gives you more of a chance to make the big play. You're more susceptible to one on one coverage out there and that's what I love. I love the, "one on one, you versus me, let's see who is better" defense.

BDN: How about working from a still start versus going in motion, do you prefer one to the other? Why?

CT: I don't really have much experience running routes going in motion, but I can imagine it won't be that much different. The only thing it eliminates is the press coverage off the ball.

BDN: Without revealing too much about your playbook, have you had or do you anticipate having opportunities to run the ball on an end around or jet sweep? What are your thoughts about running the ball?

CT: I LOVE running the ball. I don't do it too much in our offense today, but I would love to do it in the future. I just like having the ball in my hands so I can make plays! Last year I did it a couple times and had huge plays as a result.

BDN: In addition to playing wide receiver, do you have the opportunity to return punts or kick-offs? What are your thoughts about being a return specialist?

CT: Last year, I had six kick return touchdowns and two punt return touchdowns. This year I haven't been kicked to yet on kickoff and I've yet to take a punt back. If I had to choose, I would prefer kickoff return, but it doesn't really matter. I love being a part of the return game.

BDN: Is there a current receiver in college or the NFL, which you pattern your game after? What attributes possessed by that receiver are you working to emulate?

CT: I don't think I can single out one receiver in college of the NFL that I try to emulate. I like taking attributes from each of the great receivers in the game now, and trying to add them to my game.

BDN: Turning to your senior season of high school, what are your personal and team goals for the season?

CT: My personal and team goals are to win a state championship by any means possible.

BDN: Final question, what are your hobbies outside of football? Can you tell Blue Devil Nation readers a little bit about Chris Taylor the person?

CT: Outside of football, I'm really involved in gaming and electronics. If I'm not on the field or in the weight room, I'm probably playing Xbox or on my computer. I'm a really passive person; I don't really like to bother people too much.

BDN: Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview.

Moving on to the rest of our weekly coverage:

Johnathan Lloyd accounted for seven touchdowns, five passing and two rushing, as Southern Alamance defeated Graham 49-35 on Friday night. When asked which was more exciting throwing a touchdown pass or running it in, Lloyd responded, "Oh throwing it, I love to let it fly!"

"My offensive line played great and I was just in the zone," Lloyd replied when asked for his description of the game. Southern Alamance improves to 5-1 on the season.

Coral Reef lost to Coral Gables 14-3 in a Thursday game. QB Nico Pierre was held to 8-18 passing for 92 yards. Coral Gables’ defense recorded six sacks including four in the 2nd half. Nico Pierre commented, "A tough night, we just got to bounce back."

Linebacker Tinashe Bere forced two fumbles and sacked the quarterback, but Sycamore lost to Lakota West 21-20 due to a missed extra point in overtime. Bere commented, “It was my worst performance so far.”

Duke's most recent commit, running back Shaun Wilson, was limited to 21 yards on 15 carries, but West Mecklenburg still rolled to a 33-0 victory over Ardrey Kell.

Alonzo Saxton caught an 11 yard touchdown pass as Bishop Hartley routed Pittsburgh Perry 62-7.

St. Paul’s defeated Northview 42-7. St. Paul’s defense, which includes future Duke linebacker Zavier Carmichael, held Northview to 43 yards total offense in the game.

Davie County (Trip McNeill) dropped a 45-37 decision to Reagan.

Postgame: Duke 38, Troy 31

DURHAM - Duke held on to beat a tough Troy team 38-31 on Saturday in Wallace Wade Stadium. The Blue Devils move to 3-2 behind another 300-yard passing game by Brandon Connette and a 100-yard rushing game by Josh Snead. DE Kenny Anunike made a number of plays down the stretch to seal the win for Duke. The Blue Devil players addressed the media after the Homecoming win.
WR Jamison Crowder

RB Josh Snead

DE Kenny Anunike

LB David Helton

Coach K talks 2013-14 Duke Basketball

duke-wf rick c 071Thornton and Hood named as Captains

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski joked that he voted for Rodney Hood as a captain but the reality is the team votes and they chose senior Tyler Thornton and Rodney Hood.  It is clear that Krzyzewski is showing Hood that he is depending on his play and leadership.  As for Thornton, he was a no brainer in my opinion in that he shows toughness and leadership and is willing to do what it takes for his team to succeed.  He hinted that seniors need to understand their roles and it is not necessarily about minutes but more about maturity and understanding needs.

New Team, New Strategy

Coach Krzyzewski said that the goal in the seasons first full practice is to implement a system that is personalized for an athletic team.  Versatility is the keyword with this seasons team and they'll have to use that to their advantage to off set the lack of post depth.  Duke will ask their players to guard multiple positions and the reason is simple, look for a team full of wings to play a lot of switching defense and up tempo on the offensive end.  "I think it will be a team we will play more guys in a game and not just blowouts," said Krzyzewski.  In the past, some would have thought that to be coach speak, but there is reason toe believe that not to be true in that the talent level is more balanced this season and as always Duke will play to match ups, meaning different players will flourish in different games.  In short, the hot hand or hot play will earn you burn.

The Core

It starts with true freshman Jabari Parker and transfer Rodney Hood, two players who have never played in a game for Duke.  But rookies?  I think not.  These are seriously talented and versatile players and Krzyzewski will try to blend the rest of his team with them.  Amile Jefferson drew high praise in todays press conference and Krzyzewski said he would start if the season were to begin today.  Jefferson is cerebral on the court and or allows the game to come to him where many players try to force things or think too much.  Quinn Cook was also slated as a probable started by Krzyzewski but he left that fifth spot open hinting that he is looking for somebody to separate themselves in the coming practices.

More on Jabari

Krzyzewski mentioned that Parker never got fully back into shape but that he was still going through a growth process, on the court and physically.  "I think who he is right now is not who he will be a month from now.  I think he has a chance to get a lot better as he learns to play defense and he has this freedom of movement all over the court," sais Krzyzewski.  It is clear that Duke will allow Parker the freedom they did to say a Luol Deng in his freshman season.  The team wants him to grow into a well-rounded role and quick and they will give him every opportunity to do so. "Whether he (Jabari) measures up to the level you (media) want, I don't know.  But he's measured up to the level I have and I think he can improve a lot," said Krzyzewski.  He went on to say Parker did not have any demons and that he had a desire to be really good.

Amile Jefferson earns praise

Krzyzewski alluded to good summer work with Amile Jefferson where the team could work out players more and said he compliments Parker and Hood well.  Again. the core has been set with Hood and Parker and he is looking for players to adjust around them.

What does that adjustment mean?

It's hard to say with certain clarity what Krzyzewski means when he talks of other players fitting in, but he hinted that Quinn Cook would not be a traditional bring it up point guard nor would his team have a traditional position look.  My guess is that he is looking for versatility and interchangeable roles in is lineup and it may take players like Rasheed Sulaimon a little bit more time to adjust than it did a season ago.  how much of a luxury does Coach K have in that he barely mentioned a few of his talented players?

Man and a half

One of the things the long time Duke coach said was that he expected other teams to have to guard or concentrate on Hood and Parker.  "They'll be guarded by a man and a half," said Krzyzewski.  What this means is that he will have other players open when this happens.

Excitement clear to see in Krzyzewski

Make no mistake, Coach K seems really excited to get the season underway.  He had his usual high energy and was getting in his last little jokes and such before he goes into his annual very serious mode.  He obviously likes his team and the challenges ahead.  "There is going to be a lot of transition stuff with our team," said Krzyzewski and fans a certainly waiting to see just what he is talking about.

Duke will hold an open practice free to the public at 10:00 tomorrow morning.







Rodney Hood and Tyler Thornton Named Team Captains

DURHAM, N.C. – Redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood and senior Tyler Thornton have been named team captains for the 2013-14 season, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced at a preseason press conference Friday. Hood and Thornton are both first-time team captains for the Blue Devils, who open the season with an evening practice Friday.

Hood, a transfer from Mississippi State, is widely regarded as one of the top wings in the country. He was tabbed as a preseason honorable mention All-America by USA Today and has quickly established himself as a locker room leader for the Blue Devils. As a freshman in 2011-12, he earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors after averaging 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for the Bulldogs. Hood becomes just the third sophomore to be named team captain at Duke. Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus were named team captains, along with DeMarcus Nelson, as sophomores for the 2006-07 season.

“It means a lot to me to be named captain, just for the coaching staff and my teammates to have that much respect for me,” Hood said. “I’ve just got to be me and continue to lead the younger guys and lead by example. Coach doesn’t want me to do anything I haven’t been doing. That’s one of the reasons I am captain, leading by example and helping my teammates when they’re in need. I’m not going to try to create a new identity just because I’m playing now.”

Thornton has been a consistent presence in the Duke rotation throughout his career in Durham. The Washington, D.C., native is a hard-nosed defender with knack for making big plays at key moments on either end of the floor. Thornton enters his senior campaign averaging 3.1 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game in 104 contests (28 starts).

“It’s an honor, especially with the list of guys who were captains before me,” said Thornton, “This is my senior year, and we’ve got a great team that can do a lot of amazing things. It’s an honor to be a captain and be a leader of these guys.”

Duke hosts an open practice to the public Saturday, Sept. 28. A 90-minute portion of the practice will also be broadcast live on from 10-11:30 a.m. The Blue Devils play the annual Blue-White Scrimmage Friday, Oct. 18 as part of Countdown to Craziness as well as exhibition contests against Bowie State (Oct. 26) and Drury (Nov. 2) before opening the season Nov. 8 at home against

Troy at Duke Game Preview

All-ACC CB Ross Cockrell will have his hands full with Troy's Eric Thomas Saturday. BDN Photo
All-ACC CB Ross Cockrell will have his hands full with Troy's Eric Thomas Saturday. BDN Photo

Troy at Duke
3:00 PM ET
Saturday, September 28
Wallace Wade Stadium
Durham, NC
TV: ESPN3, Time Warner Cable 518 in Carolinas market
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Duke in 2013: 2-2 (Lost to Pittsburgh, 58-55)
Troy in 2013: 2-2 (Lost to Miss St, 62-7)


PROBABLE – OT Casey Blaser (hand), LB Kelby Brown (lower body), DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (leg), S Corbin McCarthy (lower body), LB Deion Williams (upper body), WR Jack Wise (upper body)
OUT – QB Anthony Boone (upper body), CB Jared Boyd (leg), DE Michael Mann (upper body), S Dwayne Norman (leg), QB Thomas Sirk (leg), DT A.J. Wolf (leg)
OUT FOR SEASON – OT Tanner Stone (leg)

TROY INJURIES - Unavailable


The Blue Devils have to improve upon their mistakes from the past two weeks if they hope to get back on the winning side. Despite all of the ups and downs of the Pittsburgh shootout, Duke had a chance to win the game had they not committed 4 turnovers. On Saturday against a turnover-prone Trojan team, the Blue Devils must take care of the football and win the turnover battle. An extra possession or two could give Duke the breathing room it needs.

Duke must control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball on Saturday. To alleviate pressure on Brandon Connette's arm, Duke must buy him time in the passing game and open lanes for Jela Duncan and company on the ground. In a blowout win against the Trojans a week ago, Mississippi State was able to control the line of scrimmage, outgaining Troy 235 to 47 on the ground. Troy returns just one starter from a year ago on their offensive line, and the experienced Blue Devil defensive front must find ways to pressure Corey Robinson. In the secondary, Duke had its share of troubles against Pittsburgh, but the matchup to watch on Saturday will be CB Ross Cockrell lining up against star WR Eric Thomas.

Perhaps most important for the Blue Devils will be to dictate the way this game is played. Duke is a more talented team and must impose its will on the Trojans. The Blue Devils have had to play from behind in each of their last two games, a formula that has not resulted in success. An early lead will go a long way in improving the confidence and effectiveness of both the offense and defense. Special teams has been an area of some inconsistency for Duke this year. They have to do a better job of winning the field position battle; the parts are all in place with All-American specialists Will Monday and Ross Martin, along with explosive returners in Jamison Crowder and Johnell Barnes. Saturday presents an opportunity for all three phases to get back on track for the Blue Devils.


Replicate the efforts of the past two weeks and winning becomes difficult for the Blue Devils, regardless of the opponent. The margin for error remains slim for this team, especially with Connette under center and an inexperienced secondary. Turnovers will kill the Blue Devils' momentum and confidence, while forcing the defense into tough situations. The Trojans, who have seen their share of turnover troubles, will be looking to exploit the Blue Devils' weaknesses, so ball security remains paramount.

Defensively, Duke has allowed 10 passing TDs over the past 2 games. WR Eric Thomas is second in the country in receiving TDs, so keeping him out of the end zone will be a tough task Saturday. Troy will have success moving the ball against Duke, but the Blue Devils will have to avoid the costly explosive plays that have plagued them recently. Troy has 2 experienced and dynamic quarterbacks in Corey Robinson and Deon Anthony; if Duke's front 6 fails to pressure them, it will be another long day for the Blue Devil secondary, leaving Duke searching for answers as they head into their first bye week.


Few scenarios allow for the Blue Devils to reach bowl eligibility without a win against Troy on Saturday, making this a must-win game for the Blue Devils as they head into their bye week. Help may be on the horizon, as Anthony Boone and Thomas Sirk continue to heal ahead of schedule, but Connette and the Devils must take care of business first. Mississippi State provided a blueprint for beating Troy last week, and the Blue Devils have the pieces to try and replicate that effort. Much like they did during their 2-0 start, Duke will control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Brandon Connette will show improvement for the 3rd straight week and find open Blue Devil receivers in a suspect Troy secondary. The Duke defense will yield to Robinson and the Trojans, but will not break, coming up with the key stops and takeaways needed to win comfortably.

Duke 38, Troy 21 

Know the opponent: Troy Trojans

Troy-Trojan-9-25-13For the third year in a row, the Blue Devils will take on a Sun Belt Conference foe on Saturday as they host the Troy Trojans. Saturday's tilt will be the first ever between the two programs. A perennial Sun Belt contender, the Trojans are off to a 2-2 start to their 2013 campaign.

To give us an insight into this year's Troy team, we welcome in five-time award winning journalist Jeremy Wise of the Dothan Eagle. Jeremy has worked at The Southeast Sun, The Enterprise Ledger and the Army Flier before joining the Dothan Eagle where he covers the Troy beat. Be sure to check out Jeremy's work on the Troy Story blog, which will include a Q&A with BDN this week. Thanks for joining us, Jeremy!

Troy is expected to compete for another Sun Belt title this year and like the Blue Devils, got off to a strong 2-0 start. What has gone wrong during their current 2-game slide?

Well, the competition has stepped up for one. The first two games involved a contest with Savannah State, while last week Troy faced Mississippi State. You cannot make too many evaluations about Troy based off the first two games given the Savannah State contest. Against the teams Troy was expected to compete with, turnovers (and turnover margin) have been a problem. In the three FBS games, Troy has 10 turnovers. The Trojans have forced none.

A trio of seniors lead the high- flying Trojan offense. Senior QB Corey Robinson has been very good at times this year, particularly his 30/32 performance in the season opener; fellow senior QB Deon Anthony has also been effective, and senior WR Eric Thomas is 2nd in the country with 6 TD catches. How are Robinson and Anthony utilized in the Trojan offense? How was Mississippi State able to contain them?

Mississippi State was just a disaster defensively, and both Anthony and Robinson were out of the game by about halftime. They had early success in that game, but poor field position from some penalty-laced kickoff returns really choked what they could do in the second quarter.

To answer the question about utilization, Anthony is the most versatile guy. He is such a playmaker that the Trojans have lined him out wide a few times and even given him a few handoffs at running back. When Troy needs a big third-down run, he’ll be on the field.

As for Robinson, he’s your typical gun-slinging pocket passer, who despite losing some weight and improving his quickness, is not looking to leave the pocket.

On the defensive side of the ball, Troy's leading tackler is senior safety Camren Hudson, but the Trojans have struggled against the pass, where they rank 101st in the country. Who will need to step up to slow down Brandon Connette and the Blue Devil offense? 

Well, Troy gets back Jeremy Spikner, who missed the first four games due to an NCAA academic eligibility ruling. He was the projected starting nickelback, which is a hybrid linebacker/cornerback in Troy’s defense. That allows Troy to move senior Chris Pickett back to safety, where he played a lot last year. It may not show up too much on the stat sheet (this secondary is a recruiting class or two from being great again), the additional depth should help some this week.

This is the first meeting for Duke and Troy on the gridiron, with an encore scheduled at Troy in 2014. Both teams can put up points and have had recent struggles against the pass; the oddsmakers list Duke around a 10 point favorite in a high- scoring game. How do you think these teams match-up? Will it be the shootout many predict?

I think yards and points will come in bunches. Few have been able to slow Troy’s offense, and they are often their worst enemy with the turnovers. Given the shootout nature of the game, the team that makes the fewest critical turnovers or penalties will win this game.