Weekend Practice Notes
Duke Football 2006
Position by position observations:
Marcus and Thad both had their moments. Marcus actually surprised me with
his downfield throwing. He has a pretty good arm and his footwork is
better than I expected. Very good athlete that was able to use his speed
on bootlegs to elude the rush. Lewis has a better arm than Jones and
looks better schooled in the fundamentals of QB play (footwork, throwing
motion, drops, etc). If I had to sum it up, I think Marcus is the more
exciting playmaker, but Thad was more consistent with his throws. The
good news here is I think both players would be a good option under center
for Duke this fall. Fun note, Steve Lattanzio looks like a guy who can
squat 500 lbs. He can also really throw the ball as well.
The two players that really stood out here were Justin Boyle and Cliff
Harris. Both players hit the line hard and always fell forward, even when
really popped. Both guys also displayed receiving skills out of the
backfield. Aaron Fryer had a few good runs as well, but I think he's
going to be 4th on the depth chart behind Boyle, Boyette, and
Harris. Drummer also lined up a few times at TB. He's as fast as ever.
Duke will be set at FB this fall. Tielor Robinson lived up to every
acclaim he's been given over the past year. He's a very good lead
blocker. Not physically imposing because of his height (5'10") but he's a
bowling ball who can also move. Brandon King is just a really big 18
year-old that can hit, run and catch.
The first thing I saw when I got to the field were the wide receivers. I
could not get over the size of these guys. Ringfield and Bell are both
every bit of 6'5". Riley is 6'3"+. And the rest are over 6'. Jomar Wright looked to be 100% recovered from his knee injury. He was fluid in
and out of his breaks and is the best receiver on the team. Riley had a
drop or two, but also made a few outstanding catches as well. The 2nd
year players better step it up, because Bell and Ringfield are going to
push for PT. Rafael Chestnut will probably be the #3 receiver, but after
that, its wide open. Jabari Marshall needs to get used to playing
offense. He's great when he catches the ball, but the hands need
At tight end, Stefanow is the unquestioned starter, but there is a
reason Norm Gee was moved to DL. Both John Lubischer and Brett Huffman
are ready to play. They have the willingness and ability to block and
they both can catch the ball as well. William Ball has a chance to be a
pretty good player for us down the road, but I don't think he's going to
see the field this year. He's bigger than I expected, but not nearly as
big as the other 3 guys.
They definitely pass the look test. We have some really big human
beings out there. The player I thought had a pretty good day was Fred Roland. He was doing a good job sealing his man inside on outside runs.
Cam Goldberg was also solid. As for the freshmen, the two players of
mention were Marcus Lind and Rob Drum. Both guys have a chance to
contribute this fall. Overall, the line is definitely struggling to
contain the DL. Without film, it is very difficult to determine where the
breakdowns are occurring. They do open some holes, but the performance of
the unit lacks consistency. One play, there will be a nice hole. The
next there is a jailbreak in the backfield. Suffice it to say, the line
has a ways to go. Coming into fall drills, the only two spots I thought
were locked up were Rumsey at center and Goldberg at LT. I will be
surprised if Fred Roland is not the starting RT come the Richmond game. I
would consider him a 95% lock now.
The entire defense looks big and fast, but this unit elicits the most
excitement. Good defense starts up front and the DL looks to be one of
the best overall units on the team. Nichols, Camero, VO, Respress,
Radloff, AO, and Bailey all made great plays at one point or another.
Keeping these guys focused until the regular season might be the toughest
chore for DL coach Scott Brown.
This is the unit that most impressed me. Mike Tauiliili is picking
up right where he left off. He's almost un-blockable during the one on
one blitzing drills and does a good job with his read and react keys with
the offense is running the ball. Codey Lowe looks 10 lbs lighter though I
was told he's about the same weight. He's also about 1.5 steps faster.
Expect a big season from him. Jeremy Edwards has really bulked up in the
last 2 years and hasn't seemed to have lost any speed. The competition
for the backup spots is intense. Right now, I think Vince Rey will be the
top backup in the middle. He was always around the ball yesterday. And
despite his scout.com profile, he's plenty fast to play in the ACC.
Charles Robinson is a chatter-box, but he was backing it up Sunday making
several tackles. Zach Smith seemed to also be getting lots of reps with
the second unit as well. These guys looked like night and day from last
year to now.
Talley was Talley. McCormick actually had two of the best hits of the
day. However, the story of the day was freshman Leon Wright. Roof has
found a gem in this kid. He's really small, but was all over the field
making things happen. I expect him to play as the nickel CB right away
and he will also return punts. He is a playmaker that will give Duke a
little extra swagger. The coverage on the receivers was pretty tight all
day from all the CBs. At safety, Chris Davis was good as was Aye-Darko.
I missed the punting drills but was able to catch the live FG unit work.
Surgan was pulling most of his attempts, but they were still going through
the uprights from up to 45 yards away. He did have one blocked and (guess
who) Leon Wright picked it up and ran it in for a TD.
Miscellaneous Observations & Random Predictions:
Freshmen who will play in 2007:
Thaddeus Lewis, Leon Wright, Jeremy Ringfield, Catron Gainey, Vince Rey,
Jarrod Holt, Rob Drum, John Lubischer, Brett Huffman, Kevin Jones.
Most Improved Players:
Codey Lowe, Charles Robinson, Fred Roland, Rafael Chestnut, Clifford Harris.
Best hitters of the day:
Deonto McCormick, Mike T, Pat Bailey, Tielor Robinson, Charles Robinson
Built like a brick outhouse:
Zach Smith, Tielor Robinson, Codey Lowe, Jeremy Edwards, Greg Akinbiyi,
Brandon Harper, Justin Boyle, Sheldon Bell, Ayanga Okpokowuruk
Playmakers of the day:
Leon Wright, Clifford Harris, Jomar Wright.
Mountain men: Vince Oghobaase, Mitch Lederman,
Ben Loebner, Sheldon Bell, Jeremy Ringfield, John Lubischer, Brandon Kng.