Duke Preview 2006 Further Analysis

Posted Jul 31, 2006

Duke Blue Devils Preview 2006 - Duke Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Is it a surprise that the best player you’ve never heard of comes from Duke?  – Nearly every year, due to the vast nature of the college football landscape, someone utters the words “the best you’ve never seen”.  Without fail, in fact, count how many times you end up hearing those words this fall.  Regardless, there’s, arguably, no one in the country who epitomizes that statement more than John Talley, the Blue Devils talented All-ACC cornerback.  With 11 interceptions over his career, Talley has shown that he could play for anyone in the nation.  He breaks on the ball well and has tremendous ball skills, similar to the guy that he patterns his game after – “PrimeTime” Deion Sanders.  Unlike “PrimeTime”, Talley is a quiet sort who just goes about his business each and every week, and some national media members have taken notice.  Facing one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, he’ll get to see some of the best receivers in the nation.  Calvin Johnson, the Virginia Tech quartet, Chris Davis, Ryan Moore, Earl Bennett – take your pick.  Each one of them will be, or should be, Talley’s assignment, but don’t think that Talley expects teams to take their act to the other side of the field.  But, that’s a decision that those teams are going to have to live with.  The senior from South Carolina may not be able to single-handedly carry this Duke team to five or six wins, but he at least gives them a chance, by taking those chances away from the other teams. 

2nd and Seven – Wide open space – When the news came across the wire earlier this month, it was more than just another Duke athletics story making the headlines.  It was a situation that would change the complexion of the Duke 2006 offense, whether in a good way or bad.  2005 starting QB Zack Asack was suspended by the school for the 2006-2007 season, leaving the starting QB job wide open in the process.  Enter Marcus Jones.  The sophomore is blessed with incredible physical gifts, such that he started four games last year at receiver before being moved back to QB.  That decision by the offensive coaching staff to put him back at QB this spring is going to turn out to be a fortunate one with how the Asack situation panned out.  Jones may give offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien the opportunity to use more of his run game/option package that he used during his tenure as Georgia Tech’s offensive coordinator.  The learning curve will be steep for Jones this summer and fall, but if he can put pressure on defenses throughout the season, then O’Brien can tap into more of his versatile, vast playbook.

3rd and Three – Waiting – Let’s face it.  As a coach, if you want to find players, real players, you go into Florida, California and Texas to see what, or who, you can steal away from the football factories in those states.  Duke ‘stole’ one in 2005, right from under Texas and Texas A&M – Vince Oghobaase from Alief Hastings High School, just outside of Houston.  His like isn’t found often at Duke or many other places, but after the 6’6”, 315 pound defensive tackle spent the year on the sidelines injured, 2006 is the year when the Big O makes his much anticipated debut for the blue and white.  The Duke faithful has waited a while, a long while, to see a dominating force like this take the field in any capacity, so he’ll have plenty to live up to this fall.  If he turns out to be half the player that he’s expected to be, the ACC will learn quickly how to say “Oghobaase”.

4th and One – Reemergence – As an Army Cadet, Tielor Robinson was overshadowed by one of the better running backs in the Northeast, Carlton Jones.  As a fullback in Bobby Ross’s offense, Robinson was more than just a lead blocking threat.  Robinson helped lead Jones to big rushing games in 2004, as well as rushing for over 450 yards himself in the same season.  He’s a unique ball player, one who could lead the way for running backs Justin Boyle, Ronnie Drummer and Re’quan Boyette or one who could tote the mail 10 to 12 times a game, or more.  At 5’11”, 245 pounds, Robinson is an absolute load and punishes defenders who dare come up to tackle him.  It’s nice to see him emerge from his transfer exile in one of the best conferences in the nation.