Duke scrimmage notes

Aug. 12, 2014 @ 07:26 AM

Duke’s first preseason scrimmage was marred by redshirt senior linebacker Kelby Brown’s knee injury on Monday night, but there were plenty of other plays for the coaching staff to mull over, as well.

Redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Boone threw two touchdown passes, one to senior Jamison Crowder and the other to senior Issac Blakeney.

The touchdown play to Crowder covered 70 yards as he caught a pass on a quick slant and took off for the end zone. Blakeney caught a 35-yard touchdown pass.

The play to Crowder displayed why he’s considered one of the most explosive players in the ACC.

“It was one of those thing that we work on and talk about,” Boone said. “With our relationship, I’m seeing things where he’s going to be and he knows where I’m going to throw it.”

Boone completed 11-of-16 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the 80-play scrimmage. Junior Max McCaffrey caught three passes for 32 yards.

Three projected starters on offense — tight end Braxton Deaver, left guard Lucas Patrick and running back Josh Snead — did not take part in the scrimmage.

Deaver is not ready for full contact yet after not being allowed to practice for the first five days due to a team disciplinary issue. Patrick and Snead were held out after being evaluated for possible concussions.

Patrick and Snead did take part in some drills with their teammates prior to the scrimmage, though.

While the touchdowns were nice, Duke coach David Cutcliffe wasn’t satisfied with how the offense performed.

“I thought our defense got off to a great start despite losing Kelby which was encouraging to see,” Cutcliffe said. “But as I looked at it, a lot of the stops were unforced errors by our offense which has continued to plague us. That’s something that has to be corrected.”

Boone agreed that the Blue Devils weren’t at their best.

“We had a few drops early, a few mishaps on the offensive line,” Boone said. “But that’s just putting guys in different spots. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. But this is our first two-a-day. Overall I felt we did pretty well.”

Cutcliffe also took issue with his team’s effort.

“We had our moments on both sides of the ball,” Cutcliffe said. “I’m not sure the crispness of the effort was what we are used to seeing.”

Depth chart notes

With Snead out, junior Shaquille Powell was the No. 1 running back. Redshirt freshman Joe Ajeigbe and true freshman Shaun Wilson took snaps with the second-team offense.

Their statistics: Powell gained 65 yards on 10 attempts, Ajeigbe rushed five times for 40 yards and Wilson had two carries for 14 yards.

Cody Robinson started at left guard with the first-team offense in place of Patrick. Tanner Stone, battling for a starting job at right tackle with Casey Blaser, was the starter at that position Monday.

Blaser worked at left tackle with the second-team offense. That’s consistent with Cutcliffe’s plan to have him available to play on either side of the ball.

Freshman get their shots

The Blue Devils used three true freshmen with the second-team defense. They are cornerbacks Zach Muniz and Alonzo Saxton II, in addition to linebacker Tinashe Bere.

Redshirt freshman Phillip Carter lined up at safety with the second-team defense.

Sirk on the field

Redshirt sophomore Thomas Sirk has yet to play in a regular-season game for Duke. He sat out the 2012 season as a healthy redshirt before missing last season due to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon suffered in spring practice.

So events like Monday’s scrimmage are extra meaningful to him as he prepares to be Duke’s backup quarterback behind Boone.

“I definitely feel a lot more confident now, feel a lot healthier playing out there with my guys,” Sirk said. “I know the guys better after going through a whole spring with them. Knowing where they are going to be on routes and the offensive line, knowing where they are going to be.”

Defensive standout

Redshirt senior defensive end Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, working with the first-team defense, had 1.5 sacks and two quarterback pressures while continuing to impress Cutcliffe.

“Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo continues to show up and did some really good things,” Cutcliffe said.

Linebacker C.J. France, working with the second-team defense, had two sacks.