Sunday, April 22, 2007
Spring Practice Report
Spring is here, and with it, a young boy’s fancy turns to love and baseball. But in Durham, NC, a young boy can’t help but get caught up in the excitement that is Duke Football Spring Practice. Unfortunately, I backed off this weekend and missed the Spring Game, but I have been compiling spring practice information for DudeSpin readers.
OFFENSE – Last month Duke hired its fourth offensive coordinator in as many years. A former head coach in NFL Europe, Peter Vaas has spent the past two seasons mentoring Brady Quinn. While he’s never been an offensive coordinator, I think this is a great hire. He’s spent the last two years worth of practices working with Quinn to pick apart the Notre Dame defense. I think this hire was made solely with Nov. 17 in mind. He can now use this knowledge to lead us into South Bend and help pull of an historic upset. An upset that will forever change our program. An upset we will witness live.
Vaas and Roof are talking about playing more aggressively on the offensive side, saying that throwing the ball downfield is the only way we’ll win. Similar jargon that Carl Franks shoved down our throats, but we will have to wait and see.
Essentially, everyone is back. All 11 starters return, and while these starters went 0-12 last year, I naively believe there is reason to hope. The offensive line should be better. Everyone returns, and several kids who redshirted last year are currently competing for starting gigs. Roof says last year’s line recruiting class is the best he’s ever been associated with, and he was able to redshirt all but one last year. This has to be a good sign, right? Last year this unit was pushed around, and struggled protecting the QB. We also could never count on 1-2 yard surges when we needed them. That has to get better.
At QB, Thad took every single snap this spring, and players and coaches are saying he’s improved a lot. He has no backup. Last year’s Day One starter, Marcus Jones, has been moved to outside linebacker, where he recorded two tackles for loss on Saturday. Jones is small, but the coaches think his speed and athleticism will make up for that. But I digress… After the spring game, Roof first told reporters that Thad will be our starter. But a few questions later acknowledged that returning cheater Zach Asack will compete for the job. I think it is obviously Thad’s job to lose, but should he struggle, we do have another guy who has also started for the bulk of a season. And looking down the next three years, well, this has the potential to be another Campbell vs. Romine. Dudes, we must be vigilant and remain a united front in support of Thad. Anyway, in a scrimmage two weeks ago Thad was 22-of-28 for 252 yards and four TDs. If only he could play the Duke D every week…
We remain deep at WR, led by coach Scottie Montgomery. We add two 2006 redshirts who are both over 6-5, which will be nice to see. Jomar Wright and Eron Riley are back, as is Raphael Chestnut. I really like Riley and think he has the potential to have a breakout season. Unfortunately, Chestnut was responsible for a fatal car accident this off-season and had a court date April 16. He’s charged with a misdemeanor vehicle death. He played all spring and I have not seen anything about his court date, so I guess that is still undetermined.
Ninety-eight percent of our rushing returns, led by Re'quan Boyette and Justin Boyle. Meanwhile, Clifford Harris has emerged as Duke’s leading rusher in two different scrimmages and the spring game. He didn’t play last year, so I don’t know anything about him.
Stay tuned kids, later in the week I will file a report on the rest of the squad…