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.