O-Line Adjusting Says Irwin

Connor Irwin (Duke SID)

The loss of preseason starting center Brian Moore has left a mark on the offensive line depth chart for the Blue Devils. One of the players expected to step up is redshirt junior Connor Irwin.

"Right now we're still prepping the same way we always have," said Connor Irwin of his team's adjustment to the updated depth chart. "For me that means doing everything I can to help the team in the best way possible."

Which means Irwin, who has spent time at offensive tackle and center through his first three years in Durham, will be asked to move in and pick up the slack left by Moore's absence. Add in Irwin's movement and there's a domino effect along the offensive line depth chart.

"With Brian going down we certainly need everyone to step up their game and move forward. He's obviously a really big part of our offensive team, but we young guys who are eager to step up and do what they need to do."

Through the first week of practice Irwin says he's noticed a continued improvement along every unit, but there is room for improvement for everyone - freshmen through seniors.

"We need to improve every time we get on the field. It's been great to see everyone coming in and working every day. [The offensive line] really worked hard this off-season to make sure we were ready for a big year. We have a lot of young guys, but we're getting better in every part of the game. We need to make sure everyone's stamina is where it needs to be. Injuries are part of the game and everyone could be a snap away from being called into a big role."

As a whole the Blue Devils have continued to make a concentrated effort to incorporate a much more balanced attack on the offensive side of the ball. Opponents have long known about Duke's ability to throw the ball, but 2011 appears to be a year in which Coach Cutcliffe's program will attempt to move the ball on the ground early and often. Hence the need for depth and experience in the trenches.

"We need to be able to run the ball this year for sure. Throwing is great and last year we threw it a lot, but this year we want to balance it out. If you can run the ball you can win the time of possession battle. If the other team doesn't have the ball, they cannot score. It's early, but there are a lot of positives in camp right now."

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