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Franks hopes team can keep on truckin'

At his weekly press conference, football head coach Carl Franks praised his assistant coaches' and player's performance's in the 29-3 win over Western Carolina Saturday, but noted that maintaining the high-level of play is still a question for the Blue Devils.

 "Well that game showed we're capable of [winning], but now we've got to show that we're capable of doing it consistently," Franks said.

 Franks said that he was unsure who would be the starting quarterback for Saturday's game against Rice, though he did say last week's starter, Mike Schneider, was already practicing at full speed after being diagnosed with a concussion Saturday.

 Last week's backup and last year's starting quarterback Adam Smith pleased Franks with his play Saturday after his atrocious 2003 debut against Virginia. Smith came off the bench mid-way in the second quarter and threw for a combined 30 yards and a touchdown on his first two pass attempts.

 "I will use them both if we need to," Franks said in response to questions about the dual-use of his top two quarterbacks. "If somebody is out there playing pretty well, they're going to stay out there for a long time. If we're struggling a little bit, the other guy will go in." Offensive lineman Rusty Wilson, who also attended the press conference, said that it does not matter to the team who the starting quarterback is.

 "I don't think there is a controversy, really," he said. "I think they've both proved that they can play."

 With regard to the hamstring injury to last year's team MVP Alex Wade, Franks said that the 6-foot-1 255 pound Newton, Pa., native was feeling better than a week ago, but is not 100 percent. In an ominous tone, Franks said that the injury may linger on throughout the season as traditionally hamstring injuries take an exorbitant amount of time to completely heal.

 Franks said that he hoped Wade's ailment will not remind Blue Devil fans of fellow running back Chris Douglas' high ankle sprain of a year ago. Douglas was billed to be one of the ACC's top backs after running for 841 yards as a sophomore, but the lingering ankle problem slowed him to 200 yards less in 2002.

 "[Wade's] not running the same way he was last year," Franks said. "He seems to be getting a little bit better. I don't know. I can't feel what it feels like inside his leg. I hope [that Wade's injury is not like Douglas']. [Wade] was better than in the Virginia game, so hopefully this week he'll be a little bit better than he was last week."

 Franks hoped that if Wade's injury lingers like Douglas' a season ago, Douglas will take up the slack as Wade did for Douglas in 2002. Micah Harris also returned from injury to the Blue Devils last Saturday. Harris' play very much satisfied Franks.

 "His experience made a big difference for us," Franks said. "Micah enjoyed playing. He had a big smile on his face before, during and after the game."

 Franks also let it be known that the many surpassing scores in other ACC games this week did not flabbergast him. Franks does not prescribe to the "top four, bottom five" formula much of media has used to describe the ACC, with Florida State, N.C. State, Maryland and Virginia being the top guns.

 "I knew [the ACC] was going to be very competitive," Franks said. "I knew it was going to be close."

 Franks briefly spoke of his thoughts on Rice, this week's opponent. In the Blue Devils' winless 2001 season, Duke's game at Rice was by far the most winnable.

 The Blue Devils blew several opportunities in their 14-12 loss. Franks said that the loss has not been forgotten by him or his team. Rice still runs the triple option, and Franks said its style most resembles the confusing style of ACC rival Wake Forest. Franks also thought the Owls will be much improved after their 48-14 loss to Houston two Saturdays ago.

 "You figure you improve the most between your first and second games," he said. "Rice has only played one game, and have had two weeks to get ready for its second game. I expect them to be a much more improved team than they were for the first week of the season."


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