Official Press Release:
The Duke football team will conclude its spring practice session with the annual Spring Game on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Wallace Wade Stadium. Admission to the game is free of charge.
Alltel will be on hand to pass our free Duke t-shirts to the first 1,000 fans in attendance.
The Blue Devils, under the direction of head coach Ted Roof, return 14 starters and 40 lettermen from last year's squad that finished 4-8 overall and 2-6 in ACC play. Under Roof, Duke snapped a 30-game losing streak in ACC play with a 41-17 win over Georgia Tech and closed the campaign by defeating North Carolina, 30-22, for the Blue Devils' first win over the Tar Heels since 1989.
The Duke offense will be directed by first-year coordinator Marty Galbraith.
"It's a learning process for the whole offense, and for quarterbacks especially," rising senior quarterback Chris Dapolito said. "We're picking up on it. We're being asked to do some different things, but it's a process and we have a long time to get it down. We're doing pretty well right now."
"(Galbraith's) offenses were tough to prepare for and tough to play against," Roof said. "That's one of the reasons we hired him. It presents problems, but you've still got to execute no matter what because it still comes down to the players making plays and, as coaches, putting them in position so they can utilize their abilities. Once again, I keep going back to not asking them to do things they can't do or are not proficient at."
"Mike Schneider is our starter," said Roof. "I've been very pleased with our quarterback play this spring. Chris Dapolito is getting better by leaps and bounds. Curt Dukes has certainly raised some eyebrows. I think each one of them has strong suits that they can rely on and we need to get them to play to their strong suits."
"Competition's always going to improve the way you play," Dapolito said. "I guess during spring ball, the focus wasn't necessarily on the competition, but just on learning the offense, because it is a drastic change. We're all getting an equal amount of reps and because we're light in numbers, we're kind of getting the reps between people. So, it's pretty much we're all learning at the same speed right now."
Roof appointed Jerry Azzinaro and Scott Brown to co-coordinate the Blue Devil defense, and Duke brings back eight starters from the 2003 season. The Blue Devils will be without a trio of All-ACC defenders in defensive tackle Matt Zielinski, linebacker Ryan Fowler and safety Terrell Smith.
"Defensively, it jumps at you with Matt Zielinski, Ryan Fowler, Terrell Smith right up the middle," Roof commented. "You've heard the old adage about being strong up the gut. We lost a lot of experience. A lot of huddles have been broken between those guys, so we've got some positions to fill. We've moved Brian Greene to safety and that's been a good move for us. We've been pleased with (Giuseppe) Aguanno's move from outside to middle linebacker. I've been please about all the moves."
Junior linebacker Brendan Dewan is the team's leading returning tackler after posting 91 total stops a year ago, while seniors Phillip Alexander (59 tackles; 18.5 tackles for loss), Micah Harris (32 tackles; 5.5 tackles for loss) and Orrin Thompson (31 tackles; 6.0 tackles for loss) all are back on the defensive line.
The secondary is led by senior cornerback Kenneth Stanford, who has 130 tackles and 30 pass breakups in his career.
Duke opens the 2004 season at Navy on September 4.
**Note** TDD will be hosting a tailgate beginning at 11 AM in the Whitford Parking Lot near the soccer stadium. Come on out and show your support while meeting and greeting a number of personalities from the site and the program.