Third-year starter Sean Renfree performed well in Duke's first scrimmage. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY - email@example.com
While Mike Krzyzewski addressed the media at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the Blue Devils held their first scrimmage of the preseason, getting in 80 snaps. A few performances to note, with stats coming from the Duke sports information office:
*Senior QB Sean Renfree was 13-of-19 for 197 yards and two touchdowns
*Senior WR Conner Vernon caught four passes, including a 43 yard touchdown pass from Renfree
*Freshman RB Shaquille Powell led the team in rushing with 43 yards on eight attempts
*Redshirt sophomore TE Issac Blakeney also caught four passes, tied with Vernon for the game-high
*Senior RB Patrick Kurunwune caught Renfree's other touchdown pass, which went for 50 yards
*Freshman safety Dwayne Norman returned an interception 55 yards for a score
*Backup QB Anthony Boone went 11-of-20 for 126 yards
*Third-string QB Thomas Sirk, a freshman, was 4-for-8 for 37 yards and also ran the ball four times for 32 yards.
What jumps out first is the fact that Powell, a true freshman, led the team in rushing. Duke had so much depth at RB (and so little at WR) that Desmond Scott, who has rushed for 1,114 yards in his career, moved over to the slot at the beginning of the preseason. Cutcliffe spoke highly of Powell in his weekly news conference, noting that he had several good runs and lowered his shoulder on a catch to secure a first down. Powell and fellow true freshman RB Jela Duncan haven't disappointed, Cutcliffe said. The Blue Devils haven't put out a depth chart since the summer, and it only features one freshman (third-string QB Sirk, who enrolled in January)—it will be interesting to see where both Powell and Duncan rank.
Powell isn't the only freshman on the above list, either. Norman, a 6-foor-1, 195 pound three-star recruit from Jacksonville, Fla., could see some time as safety this fall, but starters Walt Canty, Brandon Braxton and Jordon Byas are pretty well entrenched.
Look for Brandon Connette, formerly Renfree's backup QB, to line up a variety of positions this fall, including TE, RB and WR. Cutcliffe singled him out as having the best summer, using that time and his redshirt year to get significantly stronger. My money is on him getting more than just a few reps at TE—with Braxton Deaver out indefinitely, Duke has zero experience at that position.
Cutcliffe also mentioned that freshmen WRs Max McCaffrey and Anthony Nash saw significant action in the scrimmage. In a perfect world, both would make an immediate impact, as the Blue Devils are perilously thin at receiver.