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Duke offensive lineman Casey Blaser out indefinitely

The day after offensive lineman Tanner Stone was lost for the year due to a broken right ankle, one of the Blue Devils expected to replace him suffered his own injury.

Redshirt offensive tackle Casey Blaser will be out indefinitely with a broken hand and underwent surgery Thursday. That leaves Duke with just one experienced back-up (redshirt sophomore Carson Ginn) to starting tackles Laken Tomlinson and Tokoby Cofield.

Duke walk-on Hud Mellencamp facing felony battery charge

Hud Mellencamp, a sophomore walk-on defensive back, is facing felony battery charges in Indiana. Credit: LAURA KEELEY

Duke walk-on sophomore Hud Mellencamp, the son of legendary singer John Mellencamp, has been charged with felony battery in his native Bloomington, Indiana.

An arrest warrant was issued Thursday by the Bloomington Police Department for Mellencamp, 19, his brother Speck, 18, and Ty A. Smith, 18. All three men are facing a single count of Battery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, a Class C felony, stemming from a July 29th incident that left an unnamed male victim with facial fractures that required stitches and the attention of a plastic surgeon.

Duke football's iPad investment paying dividends

As Juwan Thompson studies up on the phantom role, he has been thankful for his iPad. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

DURHAM—Last season, Duke made the transition from the traditional, thick playbooks to iPads containing digital copies. Not only are the technologically advanced playbooks easier to transport, but they are also more interactive, with archived film clips available with a few taps on the touch screen. Gone are the days when football players had to come back to the team’s offices to watch film.

“It’s much more useful,” senior running back Juwan Thompson said.

Offensive lineman Tanner Stone out for the year

Also from today: a look at Brandon Connette and Duke's plans for the phantom role this year

DURHAM—Duke’s first major injury of the fall came Monday afternoon, when reserve tackle Tanner Stone suffered a season-ending ankle injury during the Blue Devils’ scrimmage. He will undergo surgery Wednesday.

“It’s really frustrating for a really fine redshirt freshman offensive lineman prospect,” head coach David Cutcliffe said. “His spirits are good, and we will all be there to help him through a difficult rehabilitation.”

Freshmen Breon Borders and Ryan Smith highlight Duke's first scrimmage

The Blue Devils completed their first scrimmage of camp Monday, taking over 100 snaps in the afternoon heat.

A few of the starters in no danger of losing their positions—guys like wide receiver Jamison Crowder, cornerback Ross Cockrell, safeties Jeremy Cash and Dwayne Norman—were held out so younger players could get more reps. Head coach David Cutcliffe also mixed and matched personnel groups, inserting back-ups and freshmen along with starters, in order to make better evaluations.

Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell and coach Derek Jones on the Blue Devils' secondary

Ross Cockrell has spent plenty of time teaching Duke's young secondary. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

DURHAM—Duke defensive backs coach Derek Jones recently called all-ACC cornerback Ross Cockrell his personal GA, or grad assistant. He wasn't being too facetious.

There's a story in today's paper about Cockrell's transformation from overwhelmed redshirt freshman to borderline staff member. He's the lone returning starter in the secondary and has spent the summer brining the younger defensive backs along.

"I was talking to my dad and mom about it the other day, just how much things can change in a couple years, even after a couple games. It’s kind of funny though, but I like it," Cockrell said. "Yeah, three years ago I was just a redshirt freshman trying to make it (laughs). Now I’m looking at people asking me to run meetings and stuff. But it’s been good. It’s been a good experience."

Avoiding injuries remains top priority for Duke football

The Blue Devils’ injury issues from a year ago continue to influence the way this year’s squad approaches camp. Instead of starting in full pads Friday, the team went back to just shirts and shorts and did individual work and walk-through type corrections and installs.

“It affects you. You’re not human if it doesn’t,” head coach David Cutcliffe said of last year’s experience, as Duke was down 15 scholarship players early in the season (and it got worse from there).

Duke's David Cutcliffe changes training methods to try to avoid injuries

David Cutcliffe and his staff are constantly tweaking aspects of the program in hopes to make improvements. Credit: LIZ CONDO

DURHAM—Over his 31-year coaching career, Duke's David Cutcliffe has come up with basic principles and strategies that he uses to run his program. He isn't afraid, though, to try new supplementary methods and approaches.

“You just don't let things be,” Cutcliffe said. “I've never been that way, whether it's lining up and how you play football, how you train, how you study as coaches.”

David Cutcliffe gets a laugh from Peyton and Eli Manning's Football on Your Phone

Peyton and Eli Manning's latest commercial for Direct TV, called, "Football on Your Phone," has become a viral Internet sensation in the past two days.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, who coached both Mannings in college and keeps in close touch with his protégées, laughed when asked about it Wednesday night. He had seen the video by then.

Duke center Matt Skura is ready to step into the middle

Matt Skura (62) will take over the center of the offensive line. Credit: LIZ CONDO

DURHAM—Matt Skura may be the only new starter on Duke’s offensive line, but the redshirt sophomore center has plenty of familiarity with the person that matters most.

Quarterback Anthony Boone.

“At this point, he and I know each other like the back of our hand,” Skura said. “He knows how I play and how he is going to set up in the pocket. That’s really comforting for me as a younger player and him as a new starting quarterback, that makes things a lot better, those reps from last year.”

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