Spring Update: Duke

Duke hasn't won a game against Division I-A competition in the last two seasons and will go into the 2007 season with a 20-game losing streak.

Though the defense has to share its portion of the blame, probably a bigger responsibility for the failures lies with the offense.

The Blue Devils, whose last win was over I-AA VMI in the third game of the 2005 season, at times could barely get out of the shadows of their own goalposts last season in averaging only 283 yards a game (105th in the country). Thus it was an encouraging sign to see the Blue Devils add some pop to their offense in the final scrimmage that served as the spring game.

Even with key contributors like veteran running backs Re'quan Boyette and Ronnie Drummer and receivers Jomar Wright and Eron Riley held out to give newcomers more of an opportunity, the offense moved the ball throughout the 36-snap scrimmage.

With all 11 starters back on offense, the Blue Devils will go into the fall with a more settled unit than they did a year ago, when they had to completely rebuild their offensive line.

With all 11 starters back on offense, the Blue Devils will go into the fall with a more settled unit than they did a year ago.
"I feel good about the depth we've built on the offensive line," said head coach Ted Roof. "We've got some depth at receiver and also at running back. I'm pleased with those areas and feel much better about it."

Sophomore Thaddues Lewis will settle in as the starter at quarterback, but he'll be challenged by Zach Asack, Duke's 2005 starter who missed all of last season after being suspended.

"Thaddues is our starting quarterback but just like every job we want guys to compete," Roof said.

While Roof has struggled to a 5-33 record in four seasons in Durham, it's important to point out the Blue Devils came close to pulling off a few upsets last season, including a pair of one-point losses to North Carolina and Wake Forest, and a five-point loss to Miami.

"Success breeds success," said Roof. "You can coach confidence, you can talk about it but to be truly confident you've got to do it and do it when it counts."

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: All 11 starters return on offense, including three receivers (Jomar Wright, Raphael Chestnut, and Eron Riley) who each had at least 32 catches in 2006. The top four rushers -- junior Re'quan Boyette (388 yards), senior Justin Boyle (358), junior Clifford Harris (206), and senior Ronnie Drummer (148) also all return. QB Thaddeus Lewis, who became the second true freshman to start in two seasons, had a good spring and is coming off a season in which he threw for 2,134 yards.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Blue Devils lose CB John Talley, an all-ACC pick the last two years, and LBs Codey Lowe and Jeramy Edwards, but return key people like DT Vince Oghobaase, DE Patrick Bailey, and LB Michael Tauiliili. Sophomore Vincent Rey took a tentative hold on one of the starting spots at linebacker with his play in the spring. The Blue Devils allowed foes about 168 yards a game on the ground last season and though they need to cut that figure down, it still was an improvement over 2005 when they allowed 209 per game to opposing rushers.

SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: The kicking game suffered in 2006 with a blocked field goal on the game's final play costing the Blue Devils a victory over Wake Forest. Junior PK Joe Surgan looked improved in the spring. The Blue Devils will have a new punter with redshirt freshman Kevin Jones and true freshman Nick Maggio.

SPRING UPDATES: QB Thaddeus Lewis -- who earned the starting job as a true freshman in his second collegiate game, was the only quarterback available for Duke in the spring and was 13-of-21 passing for 169 yards in the final scrimmage. Lewis threw for 2,134 yards last season but faces a challenge from 2005 starter Zack Asack in the fall. Asack was suspended last season. Another true freshman, Mike Cappetto, will be available in the fall.

WR Ryan Wood -- Though the Blue Devils have depth at wideout, Wood, a junior who has only four career receptions, all as a freshman, took advantage to make an impression when Jomar Wright and Eron Riley sat out the spring game. Wood led all receivers with three catches.

LB Vincent Rey -- Rey, a sophomore, finished off practice with a strong effort in the spring game to stake a claim for one of the two spots Duke needs to fill at linebacker.

WORTH NOTING: Duke's football graduation rate of over 90 percent was one of four programs nationally to achieve the feat for freshman classes that entered college in the 2001-02 academic year, according to information released by the American Football Coaches Association.

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