A week into Duke’s football practices, what do we know?
The Blue Devils had their first practice in full pads and scrimmaged Saturday, giving coach David Cutcliffe a better idea of where the teams stands after week one. Some observations heading into week two:
▪ Cutcliffe said he is looking for consistency at wide receiver and running back, although there are good options at both positions.
“We’re still in the mode we’ve got to evaluate, right now, who our best playmakers are and do a great job of getting those folks the ball,” he said. “We know some of them, just based on past history, but we’ve got some competition there, which will be good.”
Running backs Shaun Wilson, Jela Duncan and Joseph Ajeigbe are givens. Cutcliffe also mentioned freshman Brittain Brown, noting, “He caught my eye. He did some good things and ran the ball well.”
▪ Thomas Sirk is getting closer. The redshirt senior quarterback, still recovering from an Achilles injury, did not do any team work in the scrimmage but said he made “mental notes” that could help the quarterbacks.
Asked Saturday how close he was to being 100 percent healthy, Sirk said, “I don’t want to put a number on it. I’m getting close to where I want to be. I don’t want to rush it. I’m doing a lot of things well, and I want to keep progressing every day.”
Sirk said he put on some “lean muscle” in the offseason and is doing a better job with hydration and nutrition.
▪ It was a very hot, humid week, but that’s OK with the coaches. It’s gives a good gauge on both physical fitness and stamina, and what players are able to maintain concentration and make the right plays.
“One of our biggest goals is to see how many we can get ready to put into a game,” Cutcliffe said. The heat helps.
▪ Placekicker Ross Martin and punter Will Monday both lettered four seasons and both are gone. That can leave a coach’s stomach turning a little but Cutlcliffe seemed reasonably pleased after the first week with punter Austin Parker, a redshirt freshman, and kicker AJ Reed, a freshman from Prattville, Ala., who was a three-star recruit.
Cutcliffe noted Reed was “100 percent” with his kicking in the scrimmage, adding, “That’s always good to see – first time in the stadium for him, first time kicking.”
▪ It appears DeVon Edwards will be shifted back from cornerback to safety with cornerback Bryon Fields recovered from a knee injury and running well. “He likes it there, and Bryon likes corner,” Cutcliffe said. “But there is some competition occurring outside (at cornerback).”
▪ Freshman receiver Scott Bracey, a four-star recruit out of Benedictine School in Richmond, Va., has been sidelined by a hamstring pull. “It’s been disappointing for him and certainly for us,” Cutcliffe said.
Cutcliffe said defensive tackle Zach Morris (knee) and offensive guard Tanner Stone (back) were held out of contact work.