Much has been made of the changes to the defensive alignment and strategy in Durham for the 2011 season. And while much is made of the responsibilities of the linebackers and safeties, a lot has to go right in the trenches first. TDD spoke to redshirt sophomore defensive end Justin Foxx about the progress of the D-Line and the overall health of the defense.
"The D-Line is getting better and better under Coach Petri," said Justin Foxx. "We are always working on technique and doing the little things before we go forward. You can always do better on those kinds of things. The effort has never been a problem for us, we just need to continue to improve every day."
Foxx, who projects as the starting right defensive end when Duke opens the season against Richmond, says the roster makeup fits well with the team's desire to move to a 4-2-5 scheme.
"We have so many guys who are quick laterally and very fast overall. So this formation allows us to really take advantage of our strengths. We have some positions where we don't have as much depth as we'd like, but the coaches have put in a system that works for where we're strongest. We have a lot of speed at linebacker and real quick and fast safeties. We want them involved as much as possible."
One of the measuring sticks for the newly installed scheme is how much pressure the opposing quarterback faces and how quickly that pressure is applied. Midway through the preseason, the Blue Devils feel as though they have the basic idea down and will be looking to continually attack with speed.
"The whole idea is to get the opponents into a situation where they are facing third and long. With our speed, if we can get teams into those situations, we feel like we can be successful. The defensive line is trying to form a cup and force the opponents to not go wide. We want everything they do going where we have the most numbers."