The Blue Devils competed in the second scrimmage (open to the media) of the preseason on Friday morning at 10:30 in Wallace Wade Stadium. Perhaps the biggest news of the afternoon came when the Duke coaches were able to avoid announcing any further injuries to the squad after the starters got a number of reps in full contact situations. GoDuke has highlights:
Head coach David Cutcliffe reviewed the scrimmage with the media, saying he and the coaches got what they needed out of this exhibition. Cutcliffe believed the defense did better in the second scrimmage, and added that the '1s' got around 60 snaps against one another.
Laura Keely of the Raleigh N&O put together a comprehensive review of the scrimmage, touching on every position group and offering some highlights and quotes. Keely notes that the offensive line is adapting to injuries with true freshman Gabe Brandner and redshirt sophomore Sam Marshall (converted from defensive tackle) taking snaps with the second team offensive line. Full N&O Story here
Keely also took time to profile Duke's jack of all trades, Brandon Connette. The fourth year junior will once again play a number of positions, but with the injury to Thomas Sirk he'll be the team's primary backup under center as well.
"Brandon is an extremely valuable player, almost to the point where it's players," Cutcliffe said. "The million-dollar question is how much he can or will or where we can use him, including at quarterback. Some of that is dependent on (true freshman) Parker Boehme's progress, some of that is dependent upon being able to project Thomas Sirk's return, if there's going to be one.
"Brandon Connette is too valuable to this team at this point in time not to play."
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/13/3105249/duke-football-brandon-connette.html#storylink=cpy
AP writer Joedy McCreary finished his Duke season preview and offered the opinion that the Blue Devils are not content with making the postseason last year, they want to take the next step of the program. Associated Press story here
N&O staffer Luke DeCock notes that during the Belk Bowl, it was possible for Duke to play Ohio State transfer Jeremy Cash. However, Cash and the coaches decided that one game wasn't worth an entire season:
"It was tempting, but it wasn't worth it in the long run," Cash said. "I'd lose a whole year of eligibility over one game. It wasn't worth it. But the thought crossed my mind."
One of the biggest presences on the Duke defense will be fourth year junior linebacker Kelby Brown, who is finally healthy after after needing surgery on the knee he injured during offseason workouts in February 2012.
Despite Brown taking part in spring practice, being back on the field and going full strength was something that Brown was both nervous and anxious about:
"That was the first time I felt comfortable," Brown said. "In spring, I don't think I was quite comfortable at the bottom of piles and stuff I wasn't thinking about it. But now I feel like I'm finally strong enough to hit and drive through. Hit hard and make plays."
Circling back to the injuries, Duke lost Tanner Stone early in the week when the redshirt freshman broke his ankle. Coach Cutcliffe said Stone suffered an ankle injury during Monday's scrimmage and will be out the entire season.
"It's really unfortunate, really frustrating for a really fine redshirt freshman offensive lineman prospect," Cutcliffe said. "His spirits are good, and we'll all be there to support him and push through a difficult rehabilitation."
The injury to the 6-6, 290-pound Stone, who is from Dallas, complicates Duke's offensive line plans for this season and 2014. Full Herald Sun story here.
The second injury of the week was the loss of Casey Blaser, the second choice (behind Stone) as the backup on the offensive line as the Star News's Brett Friedlander writes:
Monday, it was redshirt freshman offensive tackle Tanner Stone that was lost for the season with a broken right ankle. The 6-foot-6, 290-pound Stone was listed on the Blue Devils' depth chart as the top backup to starting right tackle Perry Simmons.
Then Wednesday, as Stone was undergoing surgery, the epidemic continued when his replacement Casey Blaser broke his right hand. The 6-5, 280-pound redshirt freshman is scheduled to have surgery to repair the damage on Thursday.
One of Duke's most important offensive weapons this season will be Josh Snead, the junior had a horrific end to last season when he fumbled on the goal line against Cincinnati. Not one to hide from it, Snead is ready to improve and grow from the experience as the Times-News's Bob Sutton writes:
"I'm going to keep my head up and learn from this and improve," he said. "I'll keep it in the back of my head and it will make me stronger."
"Coach K represents exactly what the Nell and John Wooden Leadership in Coaching Award is all about," said executive director Bob Geoghan, "whether coaching the Blue Devils or Team USA, he is a passionate and inspires his teams to win."
One of the nation's elite coaches says Coach K is the toughest opponent he's faced.
"Krzyzewski's probably still the guy because we're (1-7) against him, so anybody who beats us that much I've got to say is the best coach," Izzo said. "And it really ticks me off, to be honest with you. You know, that's what drives you a little bit, too."
Turning to the regular season, the Blue Devils will be featured on ESPN's College Game Day twice this season.
ESPN will join the Blue Devils in Syracuse, N.Y., on Feb. 1 when Duke takes on ACC newcomer Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Tip is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Two months later, ESPN will visit Durham for the regular-season-ending contest between Duke and North Carolina. The Blue Devils have hosted GameDay four times in the past.
Turning to the Duke alumni, Roanoke's Mark Berman had a chance to sit down and chat with the Redicks and Currys recently. Full Roanoke.com story here
If you're wondering how Duke prepares for the season, here's a sneak peek from our friends at DukeBluePlanet.com at Coach Steve Wojciechowski working out the guards in Durham.
Sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon is the latest Blue Devil to participate in the "Summer Grind" series with DBP. The second year guard out of Texas is expected to take a big step this year.