One on One With Thad Lewis

Entering Spring Practice for the 2009 season, the Blue Devils have a number of positions up for grabs. However, the one constant will be senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, who took time to sit down with TDD one-on-one on Wednesday morning.

TDD: It's the start of Spring Practice, and it's your third go-round. How are you feeling heading into this year?

Thaddeus Lewis: I feel pretty good overall. Coming into practice this spring I have the same coaching staff and the same offensive coordinator. That's something I've never head here in the past. Not having to learn a completely new system and having the same coaches to work with is a great change.

Does this mean we may see more from the Duke offense this year?

Definitely. We are going to be able to show more things. Things that we couldn't do last year because the system was new to everyone. We can work with different protections and now that I have had more time to work and get set with everything, I will be able to go in and change things at the line on my own -- I'll have more control over the offense.

Entering your fourth season, how have things changed at Duke? What role have you played in that?

When I got here I don't think too many people knew about Duke football. I didn't until they recruited me. Now I think the program is taking some real steps and I feel like I've been a part of that as have the guys who came in with me. I think our class has really done well to be leaders to each other and to the guys under us. We are all working to finish up strong and get the program set.

Looking back, do you wish you would have been able to redshirt?

It was great playing as a freshman, but having another year to play for Cutcliffe would be something that would be tough to turn down. But I'm looking forward now. I am going to graduate in December and then start working hard to get myself ready to try and play at the next level. I am going to have a Duke and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

Which positional groups or players do you expect to exceed expectations this year?

I think you're going to see the offensive line do really well. They hear people saying they aren't going to be that good. I hear it. But we have some young, talented guys there mixed in with some seniors. I think they are going to be very good. The wide receivers are also going to surprise people.

Speaking of the receivers, they lost a lot with the graduation of Eron Riley. Is there someone you, as the quarterback, expect to fill his shoes?

I think Austin Kelly is that guy. I talked to him and Johnny Williams during winter conditioning about stepping up and being leaders with that group from the start. They are our playmakers.

You mention the conditioning program. Any horror stories from this year?

It was tough. Really tough. The coaches put us through a lot of challenging things - but we knew what to expect. In the winter when it's cold and raining out, we were there working hard. We made it through and we're all in the best shape of our lives - which lets us really get to work in Spring Practice.

I understand you guys had a visit from Duece McAllister?

It was really neat to see a guy like that. A guy who has played in an NFL Pro-Bowl and has been really successful. The way he came in just to talk to the team and hang out with Coach Cutcliffe says a lot.

As a player, does having former players come in help Coach Cutcliffe's position when he talks about the next level?

With Coach Cutcliffe, you believe what he says. If he tells you that you have a chance to continue your football career after college, then you have a chance. He's seen the best of best and he's coached them. We believe him, and when you look at who he's coached it's just reinforcing what he's saying.

Of course you have to take one game at a time, but does this team think about a post season berth this year?

Of course we're thinking about a bowl game this year. Everyone wants to go to one. But we know that you have to take things one step at a time. One game at a time, and before we can even get there we have to take it one practice at a time.

What's the major difference between this spring and last spring

We know what's going on and we know what we are doing. This spring isn't going to be as sloppy. A lot of guys have changed their bodies and come in ready to compete. Last year everything was new. This year we are in a routine because we know what to expect.

What do you need to improve on for this team to be better this year?

Football is a game of inches and quick instances. I need to make sure I treat every practice like it's a game situation. I need to make sure I get better at recognizing coverages so I can make the changes I need to in those game situations.

What kind of leadership role do you play for your understudies? What are your impressions of them?

Sean Renfree is going to be a great quarterback - probably the best in the ACC. He's still young and raw, but he's got a ton of talent. The biggest thing I can help him with this year is getting mentally prepared to play at this level. He's got so much natural talent, and he can sling the ball with anyone.

What makes him so good?

It's just natural. Sometimes you can just see it with people. He's one of them. He's also really smart and analyzes things really fast and to a fine point. He's also got a passion for the game that a lot of people pick up on.

Is there one game or matchup or situation you are looking forward to in your last ACC season?

I am looking forward to every game - but really excited about the ACC games this year. I've got one chance left and I want our team to make the best of it and finish strong.

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