Early observations from Duke

August, 15, 2008
8/15/08
11:12
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

DURHAM, N.C. -- This is a very odd feeling, sitting in an eerily quiet, dimly-lit Cameron Indoor media room, writing about Duke football.

There is reason to be here, though, and his name is David Cutcliffe.

I just got back from watching the first few periods of Duke football practice and had a few observations.

* The intensity of this coaching staff literally echoes throughout the trees around the practice fields. These guys don't tolerate anything a notch below what they're asking. Defensive coordinator Marion Hobby was barking at his players as they went through pass rush drills, and defensive backs coach Derek Jones could be heard yelling from the adjacent field to one of his corners: "PAY! ATTENTION! TO DETAILS!," Jones yelled. "I asked you to do THREE things!"

Not that they're not encouraging the players, too. Cutcliffe strolled through and checked out all of the drills going on, hollering things like, "I like that!" to safety Eddie Morgan, and "Be an athlete, Adrian [Aye-Darko]."

Cutcliffe's motto this season is "practice makes permanent."

* Not only is leading rusher Re'quan Boyette injured and not practicing anymore, but both of his backups -- Clifford Harris and Tony Jackson -- are being held out of full-contact drills Friday for nagging injuries. 

* I can see why Cutcliffe's first priority in terms of tangible upgrades to the program is in his practice facilities. One of the fields is only 75-yards long, and the other looks like it could be a recreational park in a small neighborhood. 

I'll get a chance to speak with some players and coaches later this afternoon, so more is coming.

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