Wide receiver Jake Bobo and defensive tackle DeWayne Carter met with the media Tuesday to discuss the state of the Duke football program 10 days before the season opener at Charlotte.
Duke had its second scrimmage last Saturday morning but unlike the first, this one was closed to the media. Not surprisingly Bobo and Carter were asked to gives us an update.
Also in the not surprising category is the opinion that Duke had a better second scrimmage.
What we the areas of improvement?
“First of all, energy was up,” according to Bobo, with “more enthusiasm, which is always good but it blends into, we made more plays. We were a little bit more explosive than that first one, which is always good to see, especially from our group, because we’re going to need that. Definitely a step up from last weekend.”
Bobo added that physicality was another improvement.
“We had a couple more live practices, so those guys [defense] were more tuned up and ready to go. They’ve been tackling more in practice and we saw that. But everyone was more physical. We’ve had another week under our belt and that showed in physicality.”
Carter saw some of the same things.
“It’s always better, that second scrimmage. Fortunately, we got better. Just really conditioning, I would say because we’ve had a whole week of pads under our belts. When you’re in that game-like setting, the adrenaline and intensity, everything is multiplied. Guys were flying around on both sides. The first scrimmage, we didn’t tackle well enough. So, that was a point of emphasis all week.”
Duke notched four sacks in the second scrimmage, with Carter getting one.
“It’s great seeing guys get after the quarterback,” he said. “We were coming over the hill on every snap, with the same intensity on every snap. That’s encouraging because guys are hungry to play and eager to run.”
All of these practice emphases are being seen by an energized David Cutcliffe and his eye-in-the-sky, that is a somewhat moveable tower, 10-feet off the ground.
“ I want to see everybody’s individual drills,” Cutcliffe told the media last week. “It goes back to the habits. It’s allowed me to be interactive with the players, but also correct things as they’re happening. One of the things you don’t want to do is practice a mistake and when you see something over and over that’s a mistake, you hopefully get it stopped on the field.”
Cutcliffe also has added a megaphone.
His players have noticed.
“No plays off,” Bobo said. “He’s a hawk. He’s got an eagle eye, no matter where you’re at. Play to the whistle every single play. It’s a good thing when you have that eye in the sky. He will light your tail up if you’re even slacking a little bit, which is something we definitely need. You’re coming off the field and you’re praying he doesn’t yell your name out. But when he does, it’s constructive. We’re just trying to soak it up.”
“He’s sharp as a nail,” Carter added. “He doesn’t miss anything. He can call out little things that we don’t even see. It’s just crazy to see a man his age that sharp but he’s that sharp because he cares. Having him up in tower is keeping the standard.”
Duke started to work on Charlotte today. The 49ers have a mobile quarterback in Chris Reynolds and this year’s team doesn’t have Chris Rumph or Vic Dimukeje to help control him.
Duke isn’t going to try to replace two of the best pass rushers in school history with one or two players. It will have to be a team effort.
Carter says it starts with the coaches coming up with the right schemes and the players absorbing those schemes.
“They know how to put us in position and we have all these different games we can run and that’s our emphasis; team, discipline and conditioning and that’s how we’re going to win games.”
Carter is a redshirt sophomore but he has 439 career snaps, which is a lot more than anyone else in Duke’s defensive-tackle contingent. That makes him the leader in the room.
“I do whatever is needed because obviously everyone reacts differently to different things, responds differently. Some guys, you get up in their face and they get offended, they take it the hard way in terms of me attacking another person. But no, I’m attacking their actions not the person.”
Carter says it seems to be working. Defensive tackle might be the biggest question mark on a team with its share of question marks. But he feels good about where is group is and what it can do.
“We’ve got a lot of young, hungry guys. We’re real experienced in the film room, in the meeting room. You can just see the desire to play on the field. We know we have a lack in depth, we have a lack of age but in terms of experience in the film room, we’ve not behind in that aspect. What’s it’s going to come down to is trying to translate this practice into an actual game atmosphere. You can’t replace experience. The only way to get experience is to play.”
Which Duke will be doing before you know it. You can start your 10-day countdown now.