Category Archives: Duke Football

Quick Hitter #5 – OG, Rob Schirmann talks fundamentals and appreciation for the Wade Crazies

[private]The Duke offensive line played very well in the opening day win over James Madison last Saturday. They will test themselves against the Northwestern defense this weekend in a battle of two 1-0 teams. Rob Schirmann is an offensive guard and leader who is part of a senior core for Duke. Schirmann's 25 career starts is tops among the interior lineman.

It took Duke its first four games last season to gain as many yards on the ground as you all did this past Saturday. What do you attribute the improvement to?

We’ve been working pretty hard on our run game. We’ve been working on all of our skills. We’ve practicing pad level, our steps and all the fundamentals. We’ve just been working hard on that and you can see it in a game.

Are you part of the Cutcliffe weight loss plan? What did you weigh last year?

I was about 285 and I’m about 275 now. I lost more in the off season, but tried to gain a little bit more. It’s increased my strength and I’ve lost a couple of percentages of body fat and I’ve gotten a little quicker in the off season. It’s all been very positive.

It’s been awhile since you’ve won a game, how do you think you will react to that this week?

We will not focus on that this week. There’s no big heads around here and there’s no big ego’s. Nothing from last week will effect how we focus and prepare this week, how we go into this game. We’re strictly focused on Northwestern.

What is your reaction on the crowd this past Saturday and the Blue Devil Walk?

Personally, I thought that was great. And the Blue Devil Walk pretty much amazed me. I was extremely excited and pumped up to see all the students out there on that and in the stadium, seeing them all out there through the rain delay … I’m real happy we had that kind of support.

What did you do after the victory?

The first thing I did was smile. Then I looked over at the student section and not a single person had left. It was unlike anything I had seen in the past during the four years I had been here. It was a good feeling and was pretty exciting.[/private]

Athletic prospect, Dontae Aycock looking to trim his list

[private]If you go to Central Florida and mention the name Dontae Aycock, you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn't heard of him. Aycock plays for quarterback Chamberlain H.S. in Tampa, Florida and is often reffered to as a human highlight reel. He is rated the 65th best athlete in the class of 2009 by ESPN and projects by most scouts as a running back at the college level.

"Georgia Tech is the only team that's recruiting me to play quarterback in that they run the option and that's what I run in high school," said Aycock during last evenings interview with BDN. Aycock recently visited the Georgia Tech campus and was rumored by some to be a heavy lean towards the Jackets. "I like the visit a lot, but as far as almost committing, I never said that."

According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Tech Coach Paul Johnson had little contact with Aycock of late and they are rumored to have their eyes on another prospect. Another recent AJC article feels that Duke and Tech are running even for the talented young mans services.

Aycock was first offered by Kansas, but 22 schools have now offered. Among those are Duke, Rutgers, UCF, Illinois, West Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville and the aforementioned Georgia Tech. Aycock said that Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Louisville and Duke were the most active schools regarding his services.

He then mentioned that Coach Johnson of West Virginia was the lead recruiter for the Mountaineers and different coaches from Tech and Louisville had called.

When asked of Duke, Aycock replied, "I know they're a great academic school and they're a team coming up." He continued, "I actually just heard from Duke. It was the first day they (teams) could call and I just got off the phone with them," said Aycock.

Aycock seemingly had high regard for the Blue Devils saying, "I've talked to all their coaching staff and I think all the coaches are nice ... I like them." He also mentioned that Coach Jim Collins was the lead recruiter for Duke.

BDN asked one of our staple question in that we asked Aycock to describe himself in three words as a person. "Fun, outgoing and determined," he answered, while never hesitating. When asked to describe his game in one word for those who haven't seen him play, he said, "I would say exciting."

His Chamberlain HS team won their recent Jamboree (exhibition) game and will kickoff the season this week. He gained 1155 yards on 155 carries. He passed for 941 yards last season connecting on 65 of 162 passes.

Aycock looks to narrow his long list to five schools he'd like to visit by the midway point of his high school season. When asked of the most important factors that would go into his upcoming collegiate decision, Aycock replied, "The school environment, the academics and the coaching staff."

Scouting Report - Aycock is a very shifty runner capable of breaking one any time he touches the ball. Aycock will likely be a running back in college but has the tools to be a top notch safety as well. Has the frame to carry about 210 pounds at the college level. Has been clocked last season at 4.5. His height will likely keep him from playing quarterback at the college level. He was not very consistent with his passing last season and needs work on his mechanics. Aycock is a solid student. In short, he is an athlete who will make his way onto the field with his talent.

If he ultimately chooses Duke - Should Dontae choose the Blue Devils, he will be attending one of the best academic institutions in America. Aycock would be in a position to compete for immediate playing time on team that is clearly an up and coming program under first year Coach David Cutcliffe.

Visits scheduled - None at this time. He is expected to narrow his final list of schools in October.

Notes - His brother is is NFL veteran Dwight Smith, who is currently playing safety for the Detroit Lions. Smith was the MVP in Super Bowl XXXVII. His family was originally from Illinois before moving to Florida. Aycock was also born in Atlanta where his Dad still resides, but moved to Detroit at a very early age.[/private]

Cutcliffe Era off to a rousing start

[private]
When Coach Cutcliffe was announced as the new football coach at Duke University, he wasted little time in an attempt to change the culture surrounding Duke Football. If last nights 31-7 victory over James Madison is any indication he has succeeded to do so on the field.

There were more areas to improve upon besides on the field performance, namely the game day atmosphere. Folks, some people actually complained about the traffic despite getting to Wallace Wade three to five hours before kickoff. What a pleasant departure that was from days gone by when gripes were related to the lack of atmosphere.

There was no shortage of activities to participate in. Everywhere you looked, tailgates were hopping. While some enjoyed the company of familiar friends, others chose to mingle about campus where the buzz went from the Chapel to the stadium.

The smell of freshly cooked food permeated the air on this humid August day, but new found hope has it's own uniques smell. Hope is what Blue Devil faithful have lived have had going into many seasons only to have that optimism dashed shortly after kickoff.

I was amazed at how many fans were wearing Duke Blue. While a few students dressed in various entertaining outfits, the rest adhered to Cut’s wishes. Those who didn’t got free t-shirts as they walked in and they too were a part of many hits on this day.

The biggest hit besides the eventual on field performance was by far the Blue Devils Walk which started at the Chapel and ended at Wallace Wade. If you missed this inaugural walk, you missed a lot, but not to worry, you have a chance to be there for next weeks Northwestern game.

Kids were playing on various inflatable and students munching out and socializing. New Duke Athletic Director Kevin White was there with the Chapel as a backdrop. The new Blue Devil Mascot was posing on the steps just behind him and former players and fans were all gathered to greet the 2008-09 Duke Football team. You could look in all directions and see smiles throughout the courtyard which was filled to the hilt with music and activities.

All of a sudden sirens blared through the air. Two motor cycle policemen came rolling up with two buses in tow, one carrying the offense and one the defense. Fans all started to gather as Coach Cutcliffe was first off the bus.

Coach then gathered his team for a brief talk and then a moment of silence. He wasted no time in turning and then led his team to the sidewalk where fans had gathered in a thick manner on both sides and were screaming adoration in a way that was normally saved for the basketball team. Speaking of the basketball team, Kyle Singler, Olek Czyz, Nolan Smith and many others were their with various frats, sororities and classmates. It didn’t take the average observer long to realize that Coach Cutcliife had sold his team and the fact that it was indeed the dawn of a new day

As the team walked through, they were greeted in a most genuine way. The smiles were wide and the emotion and joy was almost shocking compared to events of the past. The march went all the way through the quad, but it was far from over. The team was then led across the street by their Coach where another bevy of fans awaited them.

This time the band started their up and the cheerleaders who flanked them led cheers as Coach was escorted by the Blue Devil mascot past Cameron and into Wallace Wade Stadium. Many coaches would stop to hug their families and players like Thaddues Lewis would reach out to catch many high and side fives. In short, it was an amazing scene of support two and a half hours before the supposed kickoff.

I did say supposed kickoff for the game was delayed by storms and lightening just fifteen minutes before kickoff. The delay ended up being one hour and fifteen minutes, but on this night not even rain could dampen the newfound spirit.

There was indeed a sea of blue on the home side and the return of the students to the home side was both natural and exciting. The new unified base impressed more than a few as chatter was overheard.

I worried when the rain came in as some scrambled for cover. I worried even more as students headed back to campus in droves. The wait was difficult and don’t think Coach Cutcliffe didn’t know it. He took the time to come out from the tunnel to talk to the students after the delay was announced. I then thought to myself, well this will keep the core together and it did.

Soon thereafter, music blared and the team rolled out of the tunnel in a cloud of smoke and the start of the season was finally at hand. Players exhorted the fans and the fans res poned in kind. And the students, to their credit came rolling back through the gates.

The student body is to be commended with major props. It was the best student atmosphere in recent memory for some of us and the best ever for anyone under thirty years of age. Quite simply, the students added to the experience and more importantly enjoyed themselves.

The joy was shared by the hardcore fans and those who decided to give Duke another shot. Some fans worried that the new car smell would rub off quickly with a loss, but this is the kind of attitude which needs to change.

Duke started the game a bit slow and it was obvious they were getting use to playing another team and shaking off some rust during actual game activity. A nice drive sent the Devils to a 7-0 lead, but JMU responded with a score of their own in just five plays riding the legs of QB Rodney Landers.

Duke would score again as time ran out in the first half on a Lewis to Riley pass. The momentum was huge going into the locker room and Riley and Lewis would hook up again in the second half. It seemed as if Duke had started to gain their confidence as the half was ending, but with recent history, wait and see was a must.

JMU had a big run back on the opening kickoff opening the 2nd half. All of a sudden it looked as if it would be a game that would go to the wire. Duke not only survived that with the help of an Marshall interception, they went on to shut out the Dukes outscoring them 17-0. The great thing about this was the fact that Coach Cutcliffe showed the ability to make halftime adjustments and those moves locked up the Dukes passing game.

How long has it been since Duke made positive adjustments? The answer is that most cannot remember! Then there is the fact that Duke looked fresh – real fresh. Duke dominated the second half and the 31-7 final could have been worse.

As the game wound down, Cutcliffe made his way over to the students and once again thanked them for their support. He also made it clear that he was changing the culture and that the pulling down of any goal post would come at a later time in the season.

So, Duke Football shined on this rainy night as many walked away happy as fireworks lit up the night sky. It had been a long time since fans had been the part of a decisive win.

On this same day UNC beat McNeese State in a close game and Maryland slipped past Delaware as well. Both McNeese State and Delaware were ranked in the FCS top ten, but neither of them was considered to be as good as JMU, a team Duke handled easily.

Add disappointing losses by Virginia Tech and Clemson and one could make a case that Duke has the most impressive win during the opening weekend.

In ending I would like to give props to all. Coach Cutcliffe's work paid off handsomely, the fans were great and the promotions were on target. The best thing is that we get to do it all next Saturday evening against Northwestern. So, come on out to Wallace Wade early and wear your Duke Blue.

[/private]

Are you ready for some football?

[private]

I'm ready for some football? Trust me, there will be a lot of newness tomorrow. New Coach, new hope, new attitude, new uniforms, new cheerleaders in new uniforms, new Devil (you'll see), new entrance, new traditions born, new closed end scoreboard, new sounds, new promotions, new student section, new programs ... you get the picture yet? Folks, this is the dawn of a new era, so be there early to greet the team during the Blue Devil Walk and soak in the new traditions. As always the Blue Devil Nation is on the scene and here are a few pictures that may just get you riled up. That said, be loud, be proud and wear DUKE BLUE!

[/private]

Game Day – James Madison @ Duke – A dozen things to watch for on Saturday evening

[private]1- Wear Blue! -The word is out and the word is blue! Coach Cutcliffe spent the summer doing all he could to promote Duke Football. The latest, if you haven't already hear is to show up for the game wearing your Duke Blue. "I expect to see a sea of blue," said Coach Cutcliffe during his most recent press conference. What to watch for- The students have been moved back to the home side and will be behind the players for the first time in years. It will be interesting to see if the cheers are coordinated in the sea of blue.

2- Get there early! Duke is expecting a big crowd and more traffic than usual. Duke will have a team walk from the Chapel to Wallace Wade, where fans are invited to get involved. Duke will also have kid activities and music. It's always fun to walk about the multiple tailgates too. It's a new season and a new tradition and it starts with you, the Duke fan! What to watch for- Coach Cutcliffe has promised a new game day experience. This includes a secretive new way of the team entering the stadium. Stay late for fireworks and at halftime Coach K and Duke Olympians will be honored. Also, the students are notoriously late in years past. Will this change?

3- Concessions- Sounds odd? Well, Duke has not been prepared for large crowds in the past and this year studies have been made to keep this from happening. What to watch for - Will they run out of H20 before halftime in what might prove to be a humid evening?

4 - Atmosphere and Emotion- It's clear that Duke wants the typical game day atmosphere you get at some other schools. Much work has gone into the planning and you can bet there will be changes, perhaps even a little noise to elicit cheers. This is not an opera folks! So, don't worry about the polite claps and feel free to let out a scream or two. Bring your yahoo in and leave your worries of what others might think at the gate. Crowd emotion drives the players, player emotion drives the crowd. Let's get emotional! What to watch for - When it's third and one on offense or defense, will the crowd be passive or a little amped up?

5 - James Madison- JMU has been known to hit a team square in the mouth from the outset. They possess quickness and confidence and desperately want this win. The Dukes are ranked no lower than 3rd in the country in any Division I-A poll and 1st in two. Last years edition was one of the youngest under Coach Mickey Matthews and they all return. This team lost by one point to Appalachian State in last seasons Championships and had it won if not for a late turnover. What to watch for- Will JMU come into the game with a swagger? More importantly, will they leave with one?

6 - James Madison on offense- Expect to see an offense that spreads the ball around a lot. Their backfield runs a lot of motion and fakes and is as hard to prepare for as the option. Quarterback Rodeny Landers will run and run and run. He's big and hard to tackle and will be the center of attention at all times. JMU has several players capable of making big plays with their speed. What to watch for -If Duke shows the ability to contain the run, how accurate can Landers be in the air? He completed 63% of his passes last season and threw for 12 scores. Will Eugene TB Holloman run roughshod over the Duke defense?

7- James Madison on defense -These guys like to stack the box and try and shut down the run. In last seasons loss to UNC, JMU effectively shut down the run, ultimately losing the game to turnovers. This team will play a lot more physical than many expect. What to watch for -JMU feels their secondary is a strength. Can they shut down a Duke team that will likely pass more this season?

8 - Duke on offense -There is a new sheriff in town and he his own deputies in tow. Duke will spread the ball around tmore this season and go to Eron Riley often. Thaddeus Lewis has shown the ability to be a leader and the offensive line has improved. Al eyes will be on the running game where there are depth issues and freshman or newcomers slated to get reps. What to watch for -Coach Cutcliffe wants to see a crisp offense ran to precision. Can Duke run the ball enough to take pressure off Thaddeus Lewis in the pocket and will the offensive line hold up?

9- Duke on defense- Duke has a pretty good starting lineup, but will be breaking in a new safety which is a critical position. Depth as always is an issue. Tackling has been better than I remember in the pre season and a slimmed down unit should be quicker to the ball. During the pre season, Coach told the players to treat the ground like a hot stove. "You can't make a play if you are on your back," said Cutcliffe. The defense will be the most interesting said that it was not the attention of the media in the pre season. What to watch for -Coach Cutcliffe knows there is little depth on the front and in the linebacker positions. Will this unit hold up for an entire game?

10 - Special Teams -It got to the point last season where I would close my eyes on field goals and extra points. Nick Maggio has proved to be consistent in practice and will get the call. Punting has been a pleasant surprise in the pre season. As for coverage, it will make or break a team in close contests. What to watch for - Will Coach call upon Maggio in short yardage situations or elect to go for it. This is one area that needs consistency for the teams confidence and to win close games. How improved will this unit be under Coach Middleton? A good kickoff or punt return could prove to be a huge spark. As important, will they allow JMU good field position or the big play on the other end.

11- The fourth quarter - Much has been made about off season conditioning and Coach has alluded to having enough in the tank to be able to win a game in the fourth quarter and or finish. What to watch for -A score. Fourth quarter points were as scarce as sell outs for the past several seasons. Can Duke take a game from beginning to end?

12- Intangibles -This category is perhaps the most important. (A) Turnovers - This might decide the game on Saturday evening. Duke must protect and value the ball. (B) Clock Management - This always applies, but the NCAA has a new rule and Duke must get up to the ball in a timely manner (C) Penalties - Face it, Duke has not been disciplined in the past and shot themselves in the foot on many occasions. Precision and attention will be important all season long. (D) The sidelines - All too often in the past, the Duke sideline looked emotionless with many players hanging around talking about classes and after game affairs. (E) Resilience - This is a key to being a winner. Can Duke bounce back after being down? Can they drive the nail into the coffin when they are up? What to watch for - All of the above![/private]

Game Week – Vince Oghobasse Interview

[private]Game Week!

Yes sir! Real pumped up and ready to get out there and go play some football. We're tired of going up against each other in practice.

Have you been watching a lot of film on James Madison?

I mean they've got a real good quarterback coming back from last year, very physical tough runner. But as long as we execute our game plan, we'll be fine.

I know everybody wants to mention weight loss all the time, but can you tell me how has it effected you? Has your game improved and what ways has it improved?

I think from one standpoint, I'll be able to play more snaps and catch my breath between the plays. It's really helped me out in that area. As far as my speed and my quickness on my feet, that's way, way better than what it was during the spring. We'll keep at it real hard in the weight room and working on on our conditioning.

So, you feel like you guys are going to be ready to go in the fourth quarter?

Oh yeah! Most definitely. The fourth quarter conditioning is not even a question this year. Even when we get tired, we can push through that fatigue.

Do you consider yourself to be the leader on the defensive line?

Definitely. I'm a third year starter and I've got to take those guys under my wing. We've got Wes Oglesby and Akinbiyi on the front and I've got to make sure those guys are ready to go.

You've been going up against the offensive line all pre season. Last year they had a hard time and didn't quite come together. What do you think of them this year?

They're a lot better. Coach Luke has them working hard and we are making them better. This is alll about having heart. If you have a great technique and a will to block a big lineman you can do it.

Vince, a lot has been said about the support around campus, can you just tell me a little about that?

The reason there is a lot is because what Coach Cutcliffe has done with going out and getting the community involved, speaking to students and getting them involved. Coach Cutcliffe has really made the students and the staff (Administration) buy into the program. He;s all over Durham in an effort to put Duke Football back on the map.

Talk of building a new culture ...

Winning is not easy. If winning was easy, everybody would be doing it. Coach Cutcliffe has really go this home opner set for that to happen. With all the people coming to the ball game, it's going to be a record crowd for a home opener.

Coach Cutcliffe says he wants you to go in and enjoy the game. Despite that, is there pressure to win this opener against a tough team?

You have to want to win and have the will to win. It's been so long since we've had a win. It goes back to the win over Northwestern last year. I think our guys want to have that feeling again. I know I do.[/private]