Tag Archives: Thaddeus Lewis

Quick Hitter – Thaddeus Lewis talks Vandy win and Wake looming

[private]What do you think about what happened two years ago at Wake Forest?

Heartbreaking.  We thought we had it in the bag.  As a freshman, I didn't think much of it because I knew I had three more years.  It probably hurt those seniors that year, but looking back on it - it hurt going down the stretch that season.

Do you consider Wake a rival?

I would think so.  Going back to the last two games we played against Wake Forest - losing by one point and losing by five ... I remember all that.

With the two bye weeks, Duke hadn't tasted a victory in a month going into the Vanderbilt game.  Was this on the team's minds or did you see any sign that the team could get back to their old way of thinking with concerns to confidence?

Not at all.  Coach Cut is not going to let you get back to your old ways.  The first thing he said was we are not going back to the old ways around here.  One thing he said was emphasizing how we came out of the tunnel against James Madison - believing we could win.  He told us to go back to that moment and we came out that same way against Vanderbilt.  He also told us to remember what it felt like to go back in with a victory.  We have some seniors stepping up and they want to go out with a bang,

Is the team thinking bowl at this point?

Not at all.  You know, coach always says it's a one game season and we focus on that team.

Wake has got off to a good start against Duke in the past.  Is there an emphasis on coming out of the gate quick this week?

It's not about just getting off to a good start, but staying hot the whole game.  We got off to a good start my freshman year, but we ended the game poorly.  We had to come back the next season.  I think consistency and execution will be the key in this game and the team which has the fewest mistakes will win.

You had a couple of receivers missing, did that effect the game plan versus Vanderbilt?

Not at all.  We expect that if one person goes down, that another steps up.  So, we didn't alter the game plan or anything like that.

You suffered a few sacks in the Vandy game.  Was that the line, the receivers routes ... a combination of things?

The line was doing what it had to do.  Me knowing my protection and knowing where I'm hot (apt to take hits) came in to play.  I moved out and I have to be accountable for that.  It was a learning experience because we haven't faced a team that blitzes that much.  I'm pretty sure teams will watch the film and incorporate all those things, but we watched films to and I know what's coming and that I will have to be accountable for those things if the protection breaks down.[/private]

Tough defense drops Vanderbilt 10 – 7

[private]Chris Rwabukamba intercepted a Mackenzie Adams pass at the one yard line with 46 seconds left in the game to thwart a Vanderbilt comeback attempt and preserve a 10 - 7 Duke victory. With the road victory, the Blue Devils improve to 4 - 3 on the year and end a six game losing streak against the Commodores. For Coach David Cutcliffe, it is his first road victory since taking over the helm at Duke.

Duke was unable to capitalize on Vanderbilt mistakes throughout the game. Michael Tauiliili intercepted Adams on Vanderbilt's third play from scrimmage but Duke fumbled the snap on a field goal attempt and came away with zero points. Just before halftime, Duke blocked a Vanderbilt punt and took possession on the Commodores 13 yard line. A fumbled snap and penalty on the offense were followed by a missed 43 field goal attempt. In the third quarter, Vanderbilt fumbled a punt resulting in Duke starting off from the Vanderbilt 15 yard line. Duke failed to move the ball as Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis was sacked but this time Nick Maggio converted the field goal and Duke expanded their lead to 10 - 0.

Duke's defense shutdown Vanderbilt's offense for most of the game with the Commodores only points coming on a 79 yard pass from Adams to wide receiver Sean Walker. For the game, Duke held Vanderbilt to 291 total yards and held the Commodores to 81 rushing yards. Duke was able to consistently pressure Quarterback Adams sacking him four times to compliment the two interceptions.

On offense, Duke achieved success with the short pass play. Thaddeus Lewis was 21 - 36 for 222 yards and a touchdown. Four Blue Devils caught multiple passes: Eron Riley caught nine passes for 83 yards, Johnny Williams caught four for 39 yards, Tony Jackson caught three for 74 yards and a touchdown, and Donovan Varner caught two for 12 yards. Duke struggled to run the ball and was held to 28 yards on the ground. Thaddeus Lewis was sacked five times for 37 yards with the yards being counted against the running game.

This was a big win for the Duke football team. With five games remaining the Blue Devils need at least two more wins and possibly three wins in order to secure a bid to a post season bowl game. If Duke is going to win those two or three more games this season, they must continue to improve week-to-week. The red zone offense is one area where Duke struggled today and Coach Cutcliffe will certainly address that issue in practice this week.

Next up for the Blue Devils is a trip to Winston-Salem to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3). Duke has not won a conference game on the road since beating North Carolina 30 -22 on November 22, 2003. Duke has already broken a couple of streaks this season and they will be looking to end the road conference game losing streak against Wake Forest next Saturday.[/private]

Thaddeus Lewis shares his thoughts with the Blue Devil Nation

[private]So, your hometown school is coming to town ...

Preparation.  That's the key.  You have to treat it like any other game.  Those guys are going to come out to play.

This is a huge game for both teams.  Miami has their back against the wall in that they are 0-2, meaning they'll be dangerous.  They also have a pretty solid defensive front, much like Tech - what are your feelings?

We have to match their intensity and match the play those guys are going to bring in here and bring the fight to them.  If you deliver a counter punch or don't give up, it can pan out.  We have to go out there and play all phases of the game.

Duke will have played three straight games on ESPNU.  What does that mean for Duke?

You have an opportunity to show people who you are.  Some people will tune in to see what you got, so you have a chance to show the world what you can do.  Some guys will take that like an opportunity to perform.

How many players do you know on the Miami team?

A lot!  I know a lot of them.  I grew up playing against them in the little league or in high school.  You grow up knowing each other just playing football in general.

Is this a big game for your Mom and family?

Everybody calls me back home.  They say you have them this week.  Some of my family members and even some media I know want to see me play well and win.  It's a great deal for the family, but it's not really personal for me.  It's about this (Duke) football team.

You have gone up against these guys a couple of times.  Is there a little bit of smack talk on their end?

If I played any other position beside quarterback, I would smack talk back (laughing).  Talking back to what those guys are saying can get you out of your game.  I don't smack talk, but maybe my lineman can for me.  Most of them are pretty stand up guys, so they just go our there and play hard all the time, but they'll call your name some and stuff like that.

The offense struggled a little bit the past two games.  What can you do as a quarterback to help?

We just have to go out there and practice and execute.  If you practice well, you generally play well.  We just need to get some first downs to get this offense rolling.

How do you deal with a defense that held Central Florida to 4 yards rushing and one that had Florida at bay for most of the game before losing?

We have to be aggressive and get the running game going.  It opens up the offense.

On fan support -

We need our fans and we need them to be loud and give them (Miami) a little trouble.  It means a lot to us when they turn out and I hope they support us like they do the basketball team.[/private]

Struggling Miami up next for Duke

[private]The Duke Blue Devils play host to the struggling Miami Hurricanes on October 18th. Perennial powerhouse Miami enters the game at 3-3 and coming off a sloppy 20-14 victory over Central Florida. The Hurricanes turned the ball over three times and managed just 216 yards of offense in the victory. Miami is 11th in the ACC in total offense at 289.2 yards per game. Prior to the victory over Central Florida, the Canes suffered back-to-back home losses to North Carolina and Florida State.

The Blue Devils are coming off a bye week after losing at Georgia Tech 27-0 on October 4th. The 3-2 Blue Devils are averaging 24.6 points and 324.4 yards of offense per game. Duke's offense is spearheaded by Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis who has thrown seven touchdown passes against three interceptions this season. Six of those touchdown passes have gone to wide receiver Eron Riley who is third in the ACC with 5.4 receptions per game. After the Navy game, in which Lewis connected with Riley for three touchdowns, Coach David Cutcliffe stated, "They are pretty special friends. Eron - he is kind of climbing the ladder...If we can get him healthy, he could have a pretty special senior season."

At 0-2 in the ACC and with upcoming conference games against #21 Wake Forest and #18 Virginia Tech, the Duke game has developed into a must win game for the Canes. The pressure will be on Miami and they could come into the game tight. If Duke can force a turnover or execute a big play early, they could set the tone for the game and exert pressure on Miami.

Duke has struggled establishing a running game thus far this season. The Blue Devils are managing just 118.8 yards per game on the ground, and in the loss to Georgia Tech were held to 35 yards rushing. In discussing the running game, Coach Cutcliffe stated, "It's got to be fixed and get fixed quick." Miami is second in the ACC in Rushing Defense giving up just 95.7 yards per game, so Duke will need to figure out the adjustments that need to be made and execute them in order to establish a running game against the Canes.

The passing game has been the strength of Duke's offense this season. Duke is third in the ACC in Pass Offense at 205.6 yards per game. Miami's defense has yielded nine passing touchdowns this season including two in the fourth quarter against North Carolina. Look for Duke to attempt to exploit Miami's secondary in order to move the ball and establish offensive rhythm. Miami is last in the ACC with just three interceptions on the season. Thaddeus Lewis has completed passes to 14 different players this season with four receivers having double-digit receptions. The offensive line must give Lewis time to throw the ball as Miami is fifth in the ACC with 14 sacks for 123 yards.

On defense, Duke has played solid recording six interceptions and seven sacks. Linebackers Michael Tauiliiu and Vinnie Rey are number one and two in the ACC in tackles per game at 11.4 and 9.4 respectively. The Blue Devils are sixth in Scoring Defense and eigth in Total Defense in the ACC. Duke is third in the ACC, behind Virginia Tech and Florida State, in Time of Possession at 31:50 per game.

October 18th will be an exciting day in Durham. It is Homecoming Weekend and the basketball Blue-White Game will be held at 1:00 pm prior to the football game that is set to start at 3:30 pm and be televised by ESPNU. This year finds the situation in Durham a bit different as Duke fans are still excited about football even though basketball season is set to start. This coming Saturday, the Blue Devils have a legitimate opportunity to secure their second ACC victory of the season against the Hurricanes. Duke needs to execute the fundamentals: take care of the football, win the battle at the line of scrimmage, avoid penalties, and execute on special teams. If they can take care of those fundamentals, there is a very good chance Duke will send Miami back to Coral Gables with an 0-3 ACC record.[/private]

Georgia Tech preview

[private]Duke heads to Atlanta this weekend for the first road game of the Coach Cutcliffe era. The 3-1 Blue Devils will face a solid 3-1 Georgia Tech team. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a bye week after defeating Mississippi State 38-7 on September 20th. Georgia Tech's 306.8 yards per game on the ground leads the ACC. Coach Paul Johnson is considered the best coach around for the triple option spread offense. Duke's defense must contain the Georgia Tech ground attack for the Blue Devils to have a chance to win.

Coach Paul Johnson has announced that freshman Jaybo Shaw will be the Yellow Jacket's starting Quarterback against Duke due to regular starter Josh Nesbitt being sidelined with a hamstring injury. Nesbitt was injured in the game against Mississippi State resulting in Shaw playing the majority of the game. In this article, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Johnson states, "If Josh can come back now, he'll be in a reserve [role], and Jaybo will be starting."

In this Durham Herald Sun article, Coach Cutcliffe states, "This is certainly the best team we've played, far and away. We've got to play great in all areas - and I mean great - to have a chance to stay on the field." Duke previously defeated Navy so they are experienced defending the triple option offense. Linebackers Michael Tauiliili and Vincent Rey are currently ranked first and second respectively in the ACC for tackles. They will need to have strong games against the Yellow Jackets.

This News & Observer article addresses the particular concern of Georgia Tech's big play potential. The Yellow Jackets have had 27 plays go for more than 20 yards with nine producing touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets also go for it on fourth down more often than most teams.

On offense, Duke is fueled by Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and his favorite receiver Eron Riley. Lewis is second in the ACC with 218.5 passing yards per game. He has thrown seven touchdown passes with six of them going to Eron Riley. Lewis likes to spread the ball around and freshman Johnny Williams has 18 receptions on the season; sophomores Austin Kelly and Sheldon Bell have 10 each. Duke's offensive line must provide protection so Lewis has time to pass the ball. Georgia Tech is second in the ACC with 11 sacks.

Duke must establish their running game for a couple of big reasons.  First, forcing Gerogia Tech to respect the run will prevent the Yellow Jacket defense from going after Thad Lewis with a big pass rush every play.  Second, Duke needs to maintain possession of the ball in order to keep their defense fresh and able to deal with Georgia Tech's high powered running game.  Freshman Jay Hollingsworth came on strong in the Virginia game rushing for 59 yards on 15 carries.  A similar effort against the Yellow Jackets will be needed in order for the Duke offense to achieve success.

This game will turn on the normal events: controlling the line of scrimmage, turnovers, and big plays. If Duke can survive the first quarter without getting knocked out, the Blue Devils have a chance to still be in the game at the start of the fourth quarter. And if the game is still undecided at the start of the fourth quarter, anything can happen. Duke must start fast, especially on defense, take care of the ball on offense, and create more big plays than they give up to win.[/private]

September 27th is a big day for Duke Football

[private]The Duke Blue Devils have the opportunity to build on their early season success when they host the Virginia Cavaliers on September 27th, at 12 noon, in Wallace Wade stadium. Specifically, the following opportunities exist:

- Duke has dropped eight straight games to Virginia with the last Duke victory being a 24-17 overtime decision on October 9, 1999, in Charlottesville. So the Blue Devils have the opportunity to stop an eight game losing streak to the Cavaliers.

- Duke has not won an ACC game since defeating Clemson, 16 – 13, on November 13, 2004. Since that victory, the Blue Devils have dropped 25 straight conference games. So the Blue Devils have the opportunity to stop a 25 game conference losing streak.

- Finally, Duke has the opportunity to improve their overall record to 3 – 1, which would be the best start to a season since Duke opened the 1994 season 7 – 0.

It is not an exaggeration to state a win over Virginia is critical for Duke’s season. This is an important game for Coach David Cutcliffe in his expedition to change the culture of Duke football in that a win over an ACC opponent will validate the legitimacy of wins over a FCS team and a service academy.

The 1 – 2 Virginia Cavaliers have struggled to put points on the board so far this season. They are averaging 11 points per game, while giving up 32 points per contest. Duke’s defense has held opponents to less than 21 points per game, while the Blue Devil offense has averaged just over 30 points per contest. It is important to note that one of Virginia’s losses came against USC the number one team in the country. A game against USC has the potential to ruin a team’s statistics, just ask Ohio State.

Statistics can be misleading this early in the season with the two teams not having played any common opponents but, a quick look at the teams in the ACC shows Duke ranked second in total offense and passing offense, while Virginia is last in total defense, last in rushing defense, and seventh in passing defense. The Blue Devils are ranked sixth in total defense, while the Cavaliers are last in total offense.

In the area of individual performances, Thaddeus Lewis is leading the ACC in total offense at 273.7 yards per game; Eron Riley is tied for second in receptions per game (6.3) and fourth in receiving yards per game (77.3), and Clifford Harris is tied for fifth in rushing with 67.7 yards per game. On the defensive side of the ball, Michael Tauiliili is tied for second in tackles with 10 per game, while Vincent Rey’s nine per game has him tied for ninth place. Kevin Jones’ 45.7 yards per punt has him in second place in the ACC.

Internet fan sites and message boards are buzzing with discussion of a resurgent Duke football program, and even though Duke has a ton of work and multiple steps ahead of them, a win over Virginia will be a big step toward achieving success. Success breeds success so winning games in 2008 will assist Coach Cutcliffe in recruiting top notch talent to Durham, which will result in more victorious Saturdays in the years ahead.

The next step in the resurgence of Duke football is to snap the 25 game ACC and eight game Virginia losing streaks with a victory over the Cavaliers on September 27th. The game will be telecast on ESPNU.[/private]