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O"Brien takes offensive reins

One year ago, the hiring of offensive coordinator Marty Galbraith was one of the Blue Devils" biggest off-season moves. With a wealth of college and NFL experience, many anticipated that Galbraith, who molded N.C. State star quarterback Phillip Rivers, would invigorate a moribund Duke offense.

Galbraith, however, failed to add punch to a Duke attack that ranked near the bottom of the league in passing, rushing and scoring offense. At the end of a three-win season, head coach Ted Roof parted ways with Galbraith.

'I wanted to try and make the moves that we felt were necessary so we could move forward,' Roof said. 'He"s a great guy; he"s a good football coach. I just felt like we needed to go in a different direction.'

Replacing Galbraith is Maryland running backs coach Bill O"Brien, Roof announced Friday. Like several other members of the Duke coaching staff, O"Brien coached with Roof at Georgia Tech from 1998 to 2001.

'We are very excited to have someone of Coach O"Brien's experience, knowledge and energy join the Duke staff,' Roof said. 'I have known him for a number of years and of course we served on the same staff at Georgia Tech. He is a tireless worker with an excellent offensive football mind, and will be an asset to our program as we move forward.'

O"Brien excelled as the Yellow Jackets" offensive coordinator in 2001, guiding an offense that led the ACC in passing and ranked in the top three in scoring. Several players from that offense have since parlayed that success into NFL careers, such as the Minnesota Vikings" wide receiver Kelly Campbell and teammate offensive tackle Nat Dorsey.

As the Blue Devils" offensive coordinator, however, O"Brien plans to base his offense on the Maryland attack.

'I"ll hopefully add some touches of my own, like we did at Georgia Tech, but it will be very similar to what you"ve seen over the years in [Maryland head coach Ralph] Friedgen"s offense,' O"Brien said.

In addition, O"Brien stressed the importance of a balanced attack in having a successful offense.

'I think the teams that I"ve been around that have been very good on offense have been very balanced,' O"Brien said. 'They ran the ball well and also threw the ball well. I think we have to get some consistency in this offense.'

That stability will be difficult to develop on a Duke team that struggled to score points last year. The 2004 Blue Devils ranked last in the league in rushing, scoring and red zone offense. Individually, Duke did not feature a single player in the ACC"s top five of any offensive category. As a result, O"Brien"s first goal is to resurrect the confidence of an offense that is now learning its third scheme in as many years.

'What I need to do first of all with the staff is really try to change the mentality and bring in an energy level and help these guys have some confidence in this league,' O"Brien said. 'We may not be able to get everything in in spring practice, but we will change the intensity and the energy, and hopefully our guys will get some confidence in what we do with our offense.'

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