Friday, April 17, 2009

Duke spring game: 5 things to watch

Five things to watch in Duke’s spring scrimmage:

1. The return of Re’quan Boyette. Coach David Cutcliffe said the senior running back is explosively fast again after coming back from a knee injury that caused him to miss last season.

He ran 55 yards for a touchdown in a scrimmage last week, and Duke is counting on him to be one of its biggest playmakers in the fall.

2. Renfree’s progress. Duke is in good shape at quarterback with fourth-year starter Thaddeus Lewis returning, but redshirt freshman backup Sean Renfree appears to be the future of this program.

Cutcliffe has been pleased with Renfree’s poise and ability to move the team so far this spring.

3. Linebacking corps. Senior Vinny Rey made 109 tackles last season and will lead this group as it attempts to overcome the loss of 2008 senior standout Michael Tauiliili.

But Rey hasn’t made as many plays as the coaches expected this spring, so they’re still tinkering with getting him in the right spot. Meanwhile, junior Abraham Kromah is emerging as a potential standout at linebacker.

4. Lewis’ checks. In his second year under Cutcliffe, Lewis is being given more responsibility.
He is being asked to recognize defenses more at the line of scrimmage so he can check the Blue Devils out of play calls that are running into the teeth of the defense.

Duke’s defense is particularly adept at disguising its blitzes and coverages, so that won’t be easy for Lewis to do even against his own team today.

5. Offensive line. Kyle Hill and Bryan Morgan are the only returning starters from a unit that reduced Duke’s sacks from 45 in 2007 to 22 in 2008.

The Blue Devils have a quarterback in Lewis and a running back in Boyette who are capable of making big plays in the ACC — if the line can provide protection for the passer and open holes for the running game.

-- Ken Tysiac