As has become the tradition for the team, the first portion of practice focused on the kicking game. This time, the initial workout was setup to allow junior kicker Nick Maggio a chance to shine. The junior did just that by hitting a number of kicks from mid 30s to lower 40 yard marks. However, as the time for the period wore down, the coaches moved Maggio back to attempt a 57 yarder. The snap was good, the hold solid, and the kick sailed through the middle of the uprights with room to spare. Immediately the kicker was mobbed by teammates and head coach David Cutcliffe as practice began.
Next the team worked on punting. Kevin Jones drew a very animated round of congratulations from Cutcliffe after connecting for a 60 plus yard kick that sent Johnny Williams backpedaling for a good distance. Maggio also took a couple of kicks as the second team punter. The first team punt team appears to be solidifying with players such as Matt Daniels, Catron Gainey, Vincent Rey, Damian Thornton, Abraham Kromah, Matt Pridemore, Brandon King, Jeremy Ringfield, Adam Banks, and Chris Shannon as the long snapper all seeing significant time with the first team.
DEFENSIVE DEPTH CHART TAKING SHAPE
The first team defense appears to be coming into focus based on Thursday's drills. The defensive line appears to be the gem of the unit with a lot of high major talent on the field. Working as the first team were Ayanga Okpokowuruk, Wesley Oglesby, Vince Oghobaase, and true freshman John Drew. The top group of linebackers appear to be Damian Thornton, Vincent Rey, and Abraham Kromah. The defensive backfield has safeties Matt Daniels and Catron Gainey with corners Leon Wright and Chris Rwabukamba. Junior Adam Banks also saw time with the first team depending on the formation and play design. Another player who got in for several plays on the first team was sophomore Lee Butler.
Prior to taking the field for various drills, the defense's adopted motto from the coaching staff was "Do Your Job". The team was lectured on the importance of taking care of each individual's responsibility and then moving forward and picking someone else up. "But you can't do that until you do your job first," the team was told.
INJURY REPORT IS CLEAN
For the first time in recent memory the Blue Devils appear to be heading into the final week of preseason camp with a relatively healthy roster up and down the depth chart. Each day a few new players appear in black shirt (indicated limited contact drills, etc), but they are merely replacing those players who have recently returned to either the blue and white shirts. As one source indicated, it's just "preventative maintanence" and "camp dings". No injuries suffered on the field in the last few weeks have been enough to keep anyone out for an extended period of time.
PLAYER MISSES ASSIGNMENT...HILARITY ENSUES
If you've ever watched a sports movie, you know that coaches are famous for coming up with different ways to correct mistakes by players. Sometimes their vocal diatribes make passers by chuckle. Today was such a day. An unnamed coach was heard exclaiming the following to his charge: "You got a 2000 SAT, but you don't understand geometry" -- the context of this was when he was attempting to correct the angle of engagement the player kept strugging with. After a few more snaps...the problem was corrected.
TECHNOLOGY IS NEAT
While many have asked about the video board being constructed in Wallace Wade, the concept seems to be lost. The entire scoreboard will be a video screen. No longer will there be the Duke blue panels with light up scores, etc. When asked if there was a way to hook up a game of Madden on the new board - which is going to be installed beginning on Monday - those in attendance were non-committal.
THE LEAGUE IS HOVERING
Instead of a who's who of those in attendance for practice today, it's easier to point out that several NFL Scouts were front and center watching the Blue Devils and taking notes. Representatitves from the Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Arizona Cardinals were all in attendance. A handful of them seemed to follow the defensive unit around as the team progressed through various stations.