With his team wearing green practice jerseys for its early morning run and himself decked out in a bright green polo shirt, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe was certainly full of St. Patrick's Day spirit as he opened Tuesday's press conference previewing spring practice with a little nugget Irish history:
"March 17 is supposedly, in Irish myth, the day that Saint Patrick died, in 471 AD," Cutcliffe said. "He banished snakes, according to Irish folklore, and on March 17, 2009 it was a great time to banish losses for Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium. I'm looking for a leprechaun to back me up on that today.'"
Although an undefeated home slate in 2009 might be a proverbial pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, Cutcliffe still had plenty to say about the upcoming year. Some of the biggest news coming from the half-hour press conference:
- As had been previously rumored, senior Zack Asack will be switching positions, going from quarterback to safety. Cutcliffe described the switch as a "permanent change," so it would appear that the only backfield Asack will appear in next season will be the defensive one.
- Senior Re'quan Boyette, who missed all of the 2008 season with a knee injury sustained in preseason practice, will hit the practice field tomorrow as the favorite to reclaim the Blue Devils' starting running back job. Cutcliffe didn't anoint Boyette as the starter but made it clear that his experience and talent made the job his to lose.
- Whereas last season's spring practice focused on building up the Blue Devils' conditioning level, this spring, Cutcliffe is prioritizing depth and raising his team's level of competitiveness. Cutcliffe made the point that "every drill would have a winner and a loser" and that his players "were going to compete" throughout each practice.
- With his team losing three of its offensive line starters from last season, Cutcliffe pointed to his line as a main position area of concern going into the spring. Behind the blockers, a second key question mark is be how the Blue Devils will replace graduating senior Mike Tauililli at linebacker. Tauililli led Duke in tackles (140) and interceptions (4) in 2008.
The Blue Devils will kick off spring practice early in the morning March 18, working through 15 practice sessions before the team's annual spring game at Wallace Wade on Saturday, April 18 at 1 p.m.
How excited are you about Duke going into the spring? What do you foresee as the Blue Devils' biggest question marks at this point in the year?
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