In his weekly press conference, head coach Ted Roof announced that senior co-captain Giuseppe Aguanno will miss Saturday’s game against Florida State due to injury. Aguanno leads the Blue Devils with 67 tackles this season and he is now the third defensive captain to miss playing time due to injury this season. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound linebacker suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter of Duke’s 24-22 loss to Wake Forest last Saturday.
Sophomore Codey Low will replace Aguanno on the depth chart this week. Roof said he has been pleased with Lowe’s progress this season.
“I have complete confidence in Codey that he’ll step up, and I think he’ll perform well,” Roof said. “He’s a guy that had some problems and needed some time and has worked through his problems. And I have a lot of respect for guys who get knocked down and fight back, because that’s what it’s about. I’m happy for him and happy for our football team that he’s been able to do that.”
Roof also discussed the progress his team has made this season. Although the Blue Devils are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, Roof has seen improvement. Duke has played two relatively competitive games against the Virginia Cavaliers and Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
“Undoubtedly we’ve made a lot of progress, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Roof said. “Although we’re happy about the progress, we want to get paid at the end of the day.”
Roof said he was particularly impressed with the passing game, as sophomore quarterback Mike Schneider has shown marked improvement from earlier this season. Schneider threw for 191 yards against No. 12 Virginia and 300 yards last week in Winston-Salem. Roof also credits his receivers and offensive line for the improved passing game. Ten different players caught at least one pass for Duke last week, and the offensive line, which returned only one player from 2003, played one of its best games against the Demon Deacons. Roof also points to additional blocking as a catalyst for a more successful offense.
“By keeping an extra man in protection sometimes, maybe you take some of the heat off the quarterback and let him get his feet set and let him be comfortable and develop within the offense and grow,” Roof said. “And I think Mike [Schneider] has certainly done that.”
Schneider is currently 10th in the conference in passing yards.
“I think he’s been very decisive and I think he’s made good decisions,” Roof said. “As he understands things, his decision-making process improves. Mike’s a real student of the game and he’s working hard at it every day. You see little things that happen day-to-day.... And I have seen big improvement from Mike. And you like to see guys that work at it like he does.”
Roof also expressed dissatisfaction that his team was two field goals away from owning a 3-5 record rather than a 1-7 mark. The Georgia Tech alum did not, however, blame kicker Matt Brooks for the two losses, and instead talked about other, often un-noticed plays that affect close games.
“People remember the field goals but they may not remember a missed block or a missed tackle,” Roof said. “The field goals stand out because those are so obvious, but the game within the game is there, too. It wasn’t just two field goals, but two plays. That’s how we look at it. It is frustrating when they put so much into it and come so close, but football parallels life. When these guys get out and they’re the heads of their households and something bad happens, they have to keep fighting.”
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