In The Trenches With Matt Rumsey

One of the main reasons the Blue Devils started slow in 2006 was the lack of depth and experience along the offensive line. A year later, and the Duke OL has been one of the brightest spots in Spring Practice as several new players are coming off a redshirt season that will pay dividends. Still, the steady leader in this group is senior center Matt Rumsey.

With all five offensive linemen back from a season ago, Rumsey says the Blue Devils will enjoy something new in 2007 - continuity.

"It's a really nice change to have all five guys back this season," Rumsey told TDD. "We haven't had that before, and it's like we can just pick up where we left off. Last season we had a bunch of guys in this situation for the first time, and we didn't have a lot of depth. This season we have a lot of depth, which will push everyone to get better, and will let everyone know there are guys behind them to help shoulder the load."

After bringing in five offensive linemen in the recruiting class of 2006, the Blue Devils chose to redshirt Rob Drum, Jeffrey Coward, Mitchell Lederman, and Marcus Lind in 2006. Only Florida native Jarrod Holt played as a true freshman last season - but now the addition of his four classmates gives Duke a very solid group in the trenches.

"Those guys really benefited from red shirting. They had a chance to get a lot of extra reps in the weight room, while getting exposure to this level of football every day in practice. You can really see the results this Spring with guys like Mitch [Lederman], Cowart, and Rob [Drum]. Plus, Marcus Lind is one of the strongest guys you'll ever see. He had surgery last year, but has come back better than he was."

With a much improved group around him on the offensive line, Rumsey is expecting big things out of second year quarterback Thaddeus Lewis when the fall rolls around.

"When he came in last year he just had something about him that made guys rally around him. He exudes confidence and takes all the pressure off you in the huddle. Now that he's gotten a year of experience, I think he's got a chance to be a special player."

Overall the entire offensive unit returns in tact, aside from the offensive coordinator position - which saw former Notre Dame assistant Peter Vaas take over for the departed Bill O'Brien. In his first few weeks as the offense's top man, Vaas has already made an impression.

"He's different in that he's got a much calmer demeanor - it's not really better in anyway, it's just different. He's got a lot of experience, and he's very concerned with fundamentals and making sure each player gets better at something individually each day."

Rumsey's optimism for the approaching season isn't limited to just the offensive side of the ball either. He's also noticed some tangible improvement along the defensive unit as well, but there's still the rivalry amongst the two sides.

"Since we really don't have a game against an opponent to look forward to at the end of Spring Practice, we do have a little bit of a rivalry with those guys on the defensive line. We're all working to make this team better, and so competing and pushing each other is really good for the overall team. One guy who has been really good is Wesley Oglesby. That guy has been putting on a show this Spring."


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