Casey Camero: It's a lot better than last year because we have guys who can come in and help. Last season there were times when you'd look to the sideline and there wasn't anyone who could come in and give you a breather. This year we've got guys like Vince and Ayanga back, both of whom will really help, as will our level of conditioning.
Can you elaborate on your impressions of the young guys, and how they mix in with you, Eli, and Patrick?
Vince, Ayanga, and Cliff are all just huge, huge guys. You don't see too many 18 or 19 year old kids who are as big and strong as they are. People see them and immediately think they are juniors or seniors. Cliff is a just a country boy from down south who is as strong as a bull.
In your opinion, who is the strongest guy in the group?
There is no doubt -- Eli Nichols. You look at him and don't really see it, but that guy is a beast. He's got the top bench press on the team (460 pounds) and one of the top squats and power cleans.
How has this preseason camp been different from the others you've been a part of?
You can just see the progression happening with every guy out there. Everyone on the roster is making big strides, and no one is getting mentally beaten down. Everyone is competing, and that has made us closer knit as a group, while pushing everyone to get better individually.
How did you do in the strongman competition?
I did well. I finished second to Pontus in the farmer's walk (golf cart push).
What are your impressions of the coaching staff's new sleds?
I don't know who designed or built them, but I'd like to meet him. They aren't fun at all, but they have really helped us get into the best shape we've been in.
How important is the Richmond game in setting the tone for the season?
It's very important. We are taking it very seriously. In the back of our minds we all have goals that are considered bigger, but you can't reach those goals without laying a foundation -- which means starting the season off with a win.
It'll be the first night game in a while at Duke. Do you prefer night games or day games?
Honestly, we're going to be so ready for the game that I don't think it'll matter one way or another. The good thing is that it'll be cooler, but the bad part is waiting a few more hours to finally get the season started.
You guys head to Alabama this season. What does that kind of atmosphere do for the team?
We've played in big stadiums before. The ACC is full of them. I don't watch too much SEC football, but I am sure it'll be a lot like the game we played at Tennessee -- that was just a crazy atmosphere.
You've gotten a chance to meet the freshmen offensive lineman on the field. What are your early impressions?
They are all really big kids. It looks like all of them are around 300 pounds and strong. Jarrod Holt has been really good so far.
What have you concentrated on as a defensive unit this off season?
We need to get better at stopping the run. Everything we do hinges on being able to stop the opponents' running game. We make the linebackers job easier if we can do that. We make it easier on the defensive backs if we can get into the backfield and slow things down.