The Blue Devil Nation was on hand for yesterday's scrimmage which included fan day. We will bring you up close and personal coverage this afternoon. So, check back for our thoughts and a picture gallery from the event.
[private]One of the keys to Duke Football success this season, will be the play of Vince Oghobasse (6-6, 300, Jr - DT). He has slimmed down and has appeared much quicker in the drills this season and more importantly has shown better endurance. Cutcliffe stated, "Vince has had his moments of greatness. I would like to see more consistency there, Coach Hobby would say that, but it's been a lot more good from him than bad."
Cutcliffe has liked what he has seen from Brandon Harper and mentioned that his play in practice, namely the scrimmages has drawn notice. Harper (6-3, 310, Jr - DL) missed almost of of the spring coming back from an injury. How hard has Harper worked? At this moment he is ahead of Okpokuwuruk on the depth chart.
"Wes Ogelsby knows how to give you a day's work." said Cutcliffe. Ogelsby (6-6, 245 So - DE) had 22 solo tackles last season. Ayanga Okpokowuruk (6-4, 255, Jr - DE) has been moved back to a more natural position after playing as an undersized nose last season. Look for his stats to take a big leap from last seasons 7 solo tackles and 16 assists. You have already heard about and from Cliff Respress in an interview you will find below.
Coach Cutcliffe hopes to rotate five to seven players. "We've got some guys that are capable ...we have to show we can play four quarters. That's obviously been the past history with these kids," said Cutcliffe. He continued by saying that the defensive front has to learn how to practice to be successful for four quarters. The staff has put emphasis on teaching them how to go from start to finish in order to gain better practice habits.
Tomorrows scrimmage starts around 10:15 in Wallace Wade and is open to the public. Of course, Meet the Blue Devils Day will be held after the scrimmage. Prizes will be given away and you will have the opportunity to meet the new staff and the 2008 players. The meet and signing period will be held on the track and not Wilson Recreation Center which was reported earlier.[/private]
[private]Senior Cliff Respress (6-3, 280, DL) has had a good camp. In fact, Coach Cutcliffe said that he had moved up to first team status by earning it. Here are his comments after yesterdays practice -
On the competition in practice - Coach Hobby tells us all the time, I want to see you make plays. That's what he's real big on. So, everyday we come out and get loose and get after it. The younger guys are stepping up and coming through ... Hatch (Charlie Hatcher) is stepping up and playing real good. It's a pretty deep group.
On off season conditioning and the benefits - Most definitely! We are flying around, getting tot he ball and moving a little but faster. I watched some of last years film and we looked a little slower than we do right now in practices. Flying to the ball, get off on snaps ... I feel we are moving a lot faster. That 25 second clock when they spot the ball -- that's plenty of time to get back for the snap.
On learning new skills or schemes- I wouldn't say we're learning new skills ... we're still attacking. The main part is attack. Being in shape and being stronger definitely helps when you are using those (skills).
On getting reps versus the offensive line and his impressions - Their off season work and weight lifting has done a lot for them, moving their feet on pass protection.
On James Madison- We are focusing more and more on James Madison. We break camp on Tuesday and after that it will be all James Madison.[/private]
[private]Tielor Robinson (#2) has been through a lot of changes and this season brings about another one. He has moved to TE and will be counted on in many ways in the new offensive system. Tielor is a six year senior and wants to leave his mark by helping the 2008 Duke Football team to some wins. The Blue Devil Nation was able to speak with Robinson after practice.
How are you coping with the position change from running back to tight end?
At first the on the line stuff was pretty hard because there is more steps. The more you do it, the more you understand why and the process behind it and that's pretty important -- to understand the concepts of the play.
How does this enable you to take advantage of your versatility?
I think I'm pretty strong, so it helps to take advantage of that being a former full back. That's what made the transition easier, because I was so strong. I'm short ... I like to say I'm six foot, but I'm closer to the other side of five eleven. But it's easy to get under people, which is necessary going against big defensive ends. Everything else is the same. When you catch the ball you need to know how to run routes.
Even blocking, you know what it feels like having played as a back. I know what they want to see. They want me to knock a guy on his back to make it easy for a back to come behind me. When I catch the ball, I turn right back into a running back.
Obviously, there has been some backfield injuries. Has there been any talk of moving you back?
Not to me. I've thought about it a little bit, but I think that this team needs me more at tight end where we also have injuries.
Which position do you prefer?
It really doesn't matter to me. If they decided to move me at center, I'd do it because they know what's best for the team. I'm just there to do what is best for the team.
There have been some time in the past where I wanted to be involved a little more. Being a tight end you're involved in every play. It's good, you like to be in the game. When the games over you want to feel like you had a big part whether we win or lose.
The Blue Devil Nation will continue to be your destination for Duke Football Practice Reports leading into the season. We have decided to offer our analysis to all Duke fans instead of limiting it to our premium subscription section. Our goal is to cast a bright light on the program. We encourage all fans to turn out for the season opener on August 31st vs James Madison. And don't forget Meet the Blue Devils Day which includes a scrimmage this Saturday in Wallace Wade at 10:30! Further details can be found at GoDuke.com, the official site of the Duke Blue Devils.[/private]
Today's Duke scrimmage started with a penalty, but as the session went on, some positives emerged.
Quarterback situation - It has become obvious that Zack Asack will push Thadeus Lewis which is a good thing in that competition generally makes for a better starter. Lewis was 9 of 13 for 92 yards. He showed accuracy and stayed in the pocket. Asack wasn't nearly as accurate going 6-14 for 67 yards. However, one of those passes was for a T.D. He also had 4 carries for 55 yards thanks to one big play. If he can get a little better with his footwork and confidence in the pocket, he will be a nice dual threat.
Running Backs- Duke lacked depth at this position coming into the season. It has gotten worse. Boyette was penciled in as the starter but is out indefinitely. To make matters worse, Clifford Harris is nursing an unknown knee problem and sat out the scrimmage. Cameron Jones had a nice 35 yard burst on one play. Jay Holligsworth a true freshman got some reps as well gaining a team 54 yards high on 10 carries. Tony Jackson added 5 totes for 22 yards and Patrick Kurunwune, another freshman rolled off some blocks well with a couple of runs. The team was better hitting the holes on the outside than the interior.
Tight Ends- In another depth challenged position, Tielor Robinson could be a go to guy. He had 2 catches for 11 yards. Brett Huffman also contributed with a couple of nice catches. Brandon King is still sidelined and there is no timeline established for his return.
Receivers- A relatively quiet day for Riley who played sparingly. Raphael Chestnut had 2 catches for 18 yards. Jeremy Ringfield had an 18 yard scoring reception. There were a couple of single catches as well.
Offensive Line- The team mixed and matched some linemen today in an effort to get players acclimated to playing together. Upper class men played well. They held up more often than not, but sometimes missed assignments which led to the QB. Of course, this could also be blamed on the backs who may have missed their assignments.
Defense- Eddie Morgan (S) recovered a fumble and fellow safety Adrian Aye-Darko had an interception. I focused mainly on the offense today.
Kicking Game- Before the scrimmage, I saw some pretty good punts which showed increased hang time from last season. During the scrimmage, Surgan continued his struggles from last season, missing one long field goal and a short one. In fact, Cutcliffe as promised went for two on one XP situation and it was converted where Tony Jackson ran it into the end zone.
Freshman watch - Jay Hollingsworth averaged over 5 YPC today. Also, Johnny Williams has really impressed me so far. You can bet that freshmen will play big roles in the running game.
Cut Quotes - Overview of the scrimmage - "I think we got what we wanted out of this scrimmage. We had some two minute drills which were pretty dynamic. We got some goal line work, we got a lot of third down work. The offense took the ball right down the field making big plays but they turned it over in a forced error by the defense. One big glaring thing right now is we've got to find somebody to run the football."
On current running backs - "Tony Jackson hasn't had a lot of practice at running back, because I moved him in spring practice from defense. Jay Hollingsworth, Patirck Kurunwune and Cameron Jones are behind that, but nobody at this point has asserted itself. So, I am kind of scouring the team looking at every situation to try to find help in that position."
On injuries - "I just don't dwell on injuries in football. It's an unhealthy thing to do and I learned that early in my career. We won't ever do that as a team."
On Vince Oghobasse - "Vince is a very talented player that was injured after he came. When we came, to be quite honest with you, he wasn't in good enough shape to play like I think the guy can play. He's now coming around. Conditioning is a little challenging for him with his health status, bet he's coming around to becoming a pretty disruptive football player. I'm real anxious to see what kind of year he has."
On the quarterbacks- "Thad has his best day today. He's really done a good job getting a grasp of the offense. His conditioning level is way beyond what it was. Zack has shown he can make big plays. What Zack has to do is show me more consistency in managing the offense and putting guys in the right place and more consistent running the football. He's very capable of doing that."
DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke football team wants to invite you to show your support at the annual “Meet The Team Day” on Saturday, August 16, beginning after Duke's 10 a.m. scrimmage at Wallace Wade Stadium.
The scrimmage is open to the public and meet the team day will begin after the practice on the track surrounding the field. Fans will have an opportunity to get autographs and pictures taken with their favorite Blue Devil players and coaches. Posters will be given away to those attending and all fans will be able to enter drawing to win prizes.
The event and prizes are sponsored by Alltel Wireless, Blue Devil Weekly, Crocs, Delta Air Lines, Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Gatorade, Herald-Sun, Lineberry and Company, Northgate Mall, Duke Stores and Time Warner Cable.