The entire college football world will know what to expect on August 31st when Nick Saban and Alabama emerge from the tunnels of Mercedes-Benz Stadium—a veteran Tua Tagovailoa and a dominant defense looking to get the sour taste of a National Championship loss out of their mouths. For David Cutcliffe and Duke, however, they’re just trying to figure themselves out.
Spring football has officially kicked off for the Blue Devils, where the program is alloted 15 practices for the coaches to check out the progress of their team and get them prepared for next fall. Cutcliffe and his staff will be presented with a much bigger challenge than usual after losing star quarterback Daniel Jones, two veteran all-ACC linebackers in Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris, and most of their receiving core.
Offensive coordinator Zac Roper, co-defensive coordinator Matt Guerrieri, and Quentin Harris, Jones’ presumed successor, sat down with members of the media on Tuesday to discuss the outlook of next year’s team and give some insight on how the highlights of the first few spring practices.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the press conference on Tuesday afternoon:
Guerrieri on who’s going to step up and fill in the linebacker slots:
- “[We]’ve got a bunch of youth and experience. Koby Quansah and Brandon Hill are two guys that are running with the ones right now, and you’ve got young guys Xander Gagnon, Shaka Hayward has flashed a bunch, and Rocky Shelton. [We]’ve got these young guys that you guys haven’t seen a bunch in game action that have done a good job and stepped up. We’re excited about the youth and talent at that position, but anytime you lose guys like [Humphreys and Giles-Harris], that’s a lot of production that you lost.”
Guerrieri on top cornerback recruit Tony Davis after enrolling early:
- “Tony has a unique skillset. He has size and speed. Any time you’re recruiting defense you like guys that have length, can run, and are physical. Tony played defensive back in high school, he played corner and a lot of safety his senior year. We have him at corner right now, and he’s done a great job early of learning our scheme and just competing.”
Roper on Aaron Young’s impact returning to the program:
- “He understands what those expectations are of being in this program. He’s a guy that you saw early in the year last year is very capable of making big time plays. I’m excited about what Aaron can do, not only on the field, but trying to be a leader in that wide receiver room with a bunch of young guys around him.”
Harris on his success filling in for Jones last year aiding his confidence:
- “It gave me a lot of confidence to know that this is something I can do consistently and something I can do well. It helped me find that formula that’ll parlay into this year and with how I approach preparation and game weeks.”
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Harris on Jones being mocked to the Dolphins and his other possible NFL landing spots:
- “I’m really happy and proud for him, I hope he goes to a great place. Miami would be a great place for me to visit too [laughs]. So, hopefully they go ahead and do that."