Scrimmage Notebook & Highlights

The Blue Devils competed in the second preseason scrimmage of the fall on Saturday afternoon in the new Wallace Wade Stadium.   We were on hand taking notes in order to compile our second scrimmage notebook.

The passing game received a lot of attention as all four quarterbacks on the roster threw for more than 50 yards including third stringer Quentin Harris finding Keyston Fuller on a beautifully thrown 68 yard bomb on a go route towards the end of the scrimmage.    Other passing lines included Thomas Sirk going 8-of-14 for 56 yards, backup Parker Boehme connecting on seven of 12 attempts for 54 yards, and co-third stringer Daniel Jones going seven of 14 for 63 yards.

Overall the willingness to throw the ball took priority, though Duke did get nice production from starting running back Shaquille Powell and Nicodem Pierre who had, perhaps the most impressive run of the day to score the lone rushing touchdown.  

Here are the rest of the notes:

- The starting offensive line appears to be Lucas Patrick, Gabe Brandner, Matt Skura, Casey Blaser, and Tanner Stone.   Fifth year senior Cody Robinson is working with the second team.   The starting offensive line, as constituted, averages 6-foot-4 and just over 300 pounds.  

- In the two series between the first string offense and first string defense, the starting defense was made up of a defensive line of A.J. Wolf, Carlos Wray, Britton Grier, and Kyler Brown, linebackers Deion Williams and Dwayne Norman, and a defensive backfield of Jeremy Cash, Alonzo Saxton, Deondre Singleton, Breon Borders, and Evrett Edwards.  DeVon Edwards was held out of competition for the day.  

- On special teams several players returned kick offs including Keyston Fuller, Jonathan Lloyd, Johnell Barnes, Jeremy McDuffie, and Zach Boden, the transfer from Harvard.   Punt returns were handled by McCaffrey, T.J. Rahming, Ryan Smith, and Fuller.  

- There were several players playing new positions throughout the day including Quay Mann who, in what is described as a very fluid situation, has moved over to running back.   As noted above, Keyston Fuller has been converted from cornerback to wide receiver.  

- With the situational scrimmage moving along with a definite emphasis on throwing the ball, it was interesting to see the defense adjust in both scheme and personnel.  When the offense was forced into a third and long situation, the Blue Devils brought on Mike Ramsay and Brandon Boyce as the two defensive tackles.  Boyce got into the backfield a few times to hurry the passer.  Meanwhile, Edgar Cerenord was also seen pushing his way though the line a few times.

- The biggest hit of the day happened when a receiver went over the middle and met Philip Carter in a collision that ignited the defensive sideline.  

- Nicodem Pierre is a big running back.  Very big.  He’s around 6’2 and 220 pounds and is physical.  On his touchdown, Pierre got hit at the line of scrimmage and backed up.  He kept his feet, and ran right before finding a second hole and plunging through and into the end-zone draped in two defenders.  Certainly you can see he’s learning the position, but it’s not natural to him just yet.  A big thing we saw was he’s somewhat slow to hit the holes after the handoff.   Once he makes the decision, he’s fine, but there’s hesitation from handoff to moving forward.   He did block very well in the passing game and stood up a couple of defensive ends.

- Speaking of defensive ends, we saw true freshman Marquies Price getting a number of snaps with the second team defensive line.  He’s long and quick and did well against a mix of offensive personnel from first to third teamers as the scrimmage wore on.

- Freshman Rahming got a lot of work with the first team offense.  A lot of snaps and targets.  This could have been due to the lack of availability from Shaun Wilson, but during some informal chats had during the afternoon, it is safe to say that Rahming is going to have the chance to play this season.  Fuller too, perhaps. 

- Both Wilson and Joe Ajeigbe were dressed in full pads, though neither participated.  Both are expected to play against Tulane.  

- The new Wallace Wade Stadium is beautiful.  And still under construction.  The scoreboard (which is HUGE) is complete with the only landscaping left to be installed - all of which will be selected so as to not obscure the board or the very, very prominent sound system.    The field surface is top notch with the game field being natural, but the media and bench areas being the same turf you see at Brooks Practice Field.  

- The team is off on Monday and will be their Tulane-specific preparation on Tuesday.  

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