Weekend Practice Notebook

After spending the weekend on the practice field with the Blue Devils, TDD reports back with position by position analysis; a list of the top performers on both sides of the ball; and many more insider tidbits. Check out the two reports - one inside the premium ticket and one on our premium football forum.

Premium Practice Notebook Part II - On The Roof Top

Weekend Practice Notes
Duke Football 2006
August 14th

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.

Wide Receivers:
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 improvement.

Tight Ends:
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.

Offensive Line:
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.

Defensive Line:
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. 

Defensive Backs:
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. 

Special Teams:
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.

Also check out TDD's Premium Practice Notebook available to our subscribers on The Roof Top Forum.

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