Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cutcliffe seeks rushing improvement

RALEIGH - Duke already has a second-team All-ACC quarterback returning in senior Thaddeus Lewis.

Coach David Cutcliffe is hoping a better rushing game will complement Lewis' proficiency with the passing attack.

"We can run better on offense," Cutcliffe said Thursday night at the Duke football tour's stop in Raleigh.

It would be difficult to get much worse. No Duke back rushed for more than 400 yards last season. Backs Jay Hollingsworth (3.7), Clifford Harris (3.5) and Tony Jackson (3.4) all averaged less than four yards per carry.

Fifth-year senior Requan Boyette could change that.

"Requan is a competitive back, a really powerful back that has good speed," Cutcliffe said.

Boyette is returning from a torn knee ligament that caused him to miss all of last season. Cutcliffe said Boyette still needs to learn to run away from linebackers and defensive backs when he gets past the line of scrimmage instead of trying to run over them, but is encouraged by Boyette's play in the spring.

Here are some other comments from Thursday's outing:

- Senior linebacker Vinny Rey's omission from the preseason All-ACC team was "a travesty," according to Cutcliffe. Senior defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase was the only Duke player on the preseason team.

"There's not a better one out there," Cutcliffe sid of Rey, "and he's a tough, heartbeat kind of guy."

- Although Duke's offensive line returns just two starters, Cutcliffe is encouraged by that unit's progress.

"Our offensive line as a unit improved more than any other unit on our team during spring practice," he said.

- Female fans in particular will appreciate the renovated rest rooms at Wallace Wade Stadium, whose rest room facilities had been woefully inadequate.

"We can seat about 100 of you at a time (in the rest rooms), and it's nicer than home," Cutcliffe said. ". . .but don't stay in there long, because we're going to score while you're in there."

Ken Tysiac