Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Some news and notes for you from the Blue Devils' first practice, as reported by the sports information office:
In preparation for the 2009 season, the Duke football team opened practice on Thursday night at the Brooks Practice Facility on campus, much to the liking of second-year head coach David Cutcliffe.
"Last year we had 15 days of spring practice, and then it was like teaching them all over again," Cutcliffe said. "The difference is this year we were out there doing a lot of things on defense and a lot of things on offense with people in the right place mostly. It looked like real football on day one. Are there a lot of things we need to improve? Yes."
Cutcliffe noted his pleasure with Duke's tailback duo of Re'quan Boyette and Jay Hollingsworth. Boyette, who led the Blue Devils in rushing in both 2006 and 2007, returns to the gridiron for his fifth season of eligibility after missing last fall due to a knee injury. In helping replace the void left by Boyette's absence last year, Hollingsworth became the first true freshman at Duke since 1998 to lead the squad in rushing yards.
"Re'quan looked good; best he's looked since he was injured," Cutcliffe said. "He was full speed in the spring, but he's faster. He and Jay Hollingsworth caught my eye early at tailback."
Senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis was impressed with the Blue Devil defensive unit.
"The defense is looking good," Lewis said. "There were guys out there moving fast and making plays. I think they are more confident. I think we'll have some interesting practices every day."
As for Lewis, the Opa-Locka, Fla., native is scheduled to start under center for the fourth consecutive season.
"Thad has come a million miles," said Cutcliffe. "I think he's got some confidence. I never saw tonight him not knowing what to do with the football. He has so much courage and so much presence. Never, never doubt Thad Lewis' courage. He is a tough individual."
Cutcliffe announced that three Blue Devils -- redshirt senior nose guard Kinney Rucker, freshman offensive lineman Dave Harding and freshman safety Anthony Young-Wiseman -- are out of action indefinitely due to injury.