Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Duke not caught up in numbers game

Duke defensive end Patrick Bailey said he doesn’t know how many consecutive games the Blue Devils have lost.

Wide receiver Jomar Wright said he doesn’t know the number and doesn’t really care.

“Every time we step on the field we feel like we can win,” Wright said.

Duke enters the 2007 season with the longest losing streak in the football bowl subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) at 20 games.

Defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase said he tries not to think about that.

“We don’t need any negativity,” said Oghobaase, who has lost more than 20 pounds and has been a force in practice at 297 pounds. “We need to be as positive as we can be.”

It’s easy to look at coach Ted Roof’s team and list reasons Duke will continue losing in 2007. The Blue Devils have 11 returning starters on offense, but guard Zach Maurides and tackle Ted Roland have not practiced yet because of injuries.

The defense has lost its best player, linebacker Michael Tauiliili, to an indefinite suspension after his arrest on charges including driving while impaired and simple assault.

Duke’s nonconference schedule includes a trip to Notre Dame and no football championship subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) opponents.

So the Blue Devils have to find hope elsewhere heading into their Sept. 1 opener against Connecticut. They point to a 14-13 loss to ACC champion Wake Forest and a 20-15 defeat against Miami last season as evidence of progress.

If the losing streak says otherwise, the players will do their best to disregard that number.

“Coach Roof, he hasn’t even brought up the losing streak,” Wright said. “It’s not something we talk about.”

– Ken Tysiac