One on One With Bryan Morgan

One of the bigger questions surrounding the Blue Devils' chances of success in 2009 is the projected effectiveness of the offensive line. Replacing three starters is never easy, but at least one player believes that Duke is going to answer the questions in a positive way.

TDD: How is Spring Practice progressing from your perspective?

Bryan Morgan: It's been really good. And really heard. We are all working hard as individuals and as units so that we can build on last year's success. We know that we did some good things last year and worked hard, but it wasn't enough. We need to do more to improve and win more games.

You mention that last year's work wasn't enough. Can you elaborate on that a bit?

We all worked hard, but now we have a year under our belts. We all know what it takes and we've seen the payoffs from that. Every time you step on the field or in the weight room you need to strive to improve. That's a concept everyone has bought into now.

The offensive line is one of the big question marks for this season, if you listen to the experts. Does that motivate you?

I am sure people question us, and I can understand that. We lost three starters from last year so people naturally think we are going to be the weak link in the offensive unit. That's good. We know we need to prove them wrong and it gives us a pretty big chip on our shoulders. We have really been working extra in the weight room and with our position coaches so that we can protect Thad and open up holes for the backs.

What's the major strength of the O-line this year?

We really trust each other. Unlike the skill positions, no one offensive lineman can make individual plays and be successful. You have to move as a unit. You have to think as one and support each other. We have terrific chemistry and we really trust one another. Guys are in the best shape of their lives right now and some of them have really changed their bodies and their approach to the game in the last year. Everyone is maxing out their potential.

As the center, what are your responsibilities?

I'm sort of the leader of the line. I have to make sure that guys know who to pick up - especially in the passing game. If we're gong to be passing I need to call out and explain to guys which players are going to try and shoot through the gaps, which linebackers are going to be coming, etc. If someone isn't doing that, it's my job to make sure to remind them and get them on the same page.

Since your job is to follow the defense, which players from that side of the ball have really caught your eye in Spring Practice?

It's hard to pick just one. The whole group looks different. They are really flying around the ball and hitting people. One group that has been really good is the linebackers. They are putting a lot of pressure on people and are much faster than they've been in the past.

It seems like the main message this Spring is consistency. What is meant by that?

We can't let up. Not even for one play. This league is so competitive that one little mistake can cost you a game. The major difference I see here is that everyone is on the same page. There is never a practice where the coaches are like "that's OK, don't worry about it". No, they are on us all the time to push ourselves from the first second we get on the field to the last rep of conditioning. It's hard, but we have seen it's the way to win. And we're all buying in.

Speaking of conditioning, what are some of the more...shall we say interesting stories from the off-season?

Ha. Ha. Well, let's just say that it is always intense and always a great way to workout. But, like I've said, the main thing we have all improved on is the way in which we've approached it. And we are benefitting from it now. Nobody is grabbing their shorts or bent over after just a little work. We're all stronger and fitter. We do the conditioning because we know it makes us better and we all want that. It's hard not to believe because our coaches have all been there before. They know what it takes.

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