Duke coach David Cutcliffe met with the media on Friday to preview the Blue Devils' spring practices, which began on Sunday (He deemed it the Valentine's Day massacre). Here are the highlights of his overview and what he'll be looking for:
Consistency in the punting game. All three special teams starters return in snapper Jackson Anderson, punter Kevin Jones and kicker Will Snyderwine.
Execution of kickoffs, i.e. placement, hangtime and depth.
Cutcliffe said the defense would have a new look with Marion Hobby calling the plays, but declined to elaborate.
There will be more of an emphasis on the pass rush, which Duke has struggled with in the past two seasons. Cutcliffe said he thinks he's got some players better equipped for it this year.
Quarterback Sean Renfree is "way ahead of schedule" in rehabbing from his knee injury, but he won't see any real practice time.
Offensive guard Mitch Lederman is out this spring with an injury, and Cutcliffe is a bit concerned about that, as he's looking for improvement up front.
There will be more competition across the board this spring, as he's looking for playmakers who can come through on third downs and in the red zone.
There will be a bigger emphasis on the running game, but Cutcliffe declined to say why he thought that was or how it will be made better because he thought those answers might put Duke in a competitive disadvantage.
Two players will switch sides of the football for spring practice with Johnny Williams, who caught 61 passes for 712 yards over the past two years, moving from wide receiver to cornerback and Kenny Anunike shifting from tight end to defensive end. The defensive line is depleted, and there is enough depth and talent at wide receiver for these moves to be possible.