Duke football’s final scrimmage tests the little things

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
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DURHAM, N.C. – Duke Blue Devils football head coach David Cutcliffe put his team through its final scrimmage on a brand new Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday.

The mammoth new video board was tested while the sound system blared loudly and drowned out position coaches’ whistles as everything got underway.

The team was put through its routine for game day on a revamped sod field, and one that no longer was surrounded by a track.

Instead, artificial turf provided a more uniform look of a true football stadium with new brick walls fronting additional seating that was installed to bring fans closer to the action as a result.

Temporary amenities have been provided for the 2015 season while stadium construction will continue with planned completion targeted for August 2016.

The upgraded stadium will eventually include new entrances as well as a four-level tower comprised of viewing suites, game and media operations facilities, concession areas and restrooms.

As the facility construction continued around it, the team’s own rebuilding continued on the field during a 75-plus snap scrimmage.

“We think we got exactly what we needed as far as game atmosphere,” Cutcliffe said afterwards.

“We had a rotating series and our coaches operating from the press box, sidelines. We ended up getting in the neighborhood of 90 really good snaps to study.”

All four quarterbacks threw for at least 50 yards, led by starting quarterback Thomas Sirk.

Sirk completed 8-of-14 throws for 56 yards, while backup Parker Boehme was 7-of-12, passing for 54 yards.

Freshman Daniel Jones threw 7-of-14 for 63 yards with an interception, while fellow rookie Quentin Harris was 2-for-4 for 98 yards, and paired with Keyston Fuller for a 68-yard score.

Quarterback-turned-running back Nicodem Pierre rushed nine times for 31 yards and one touchdown, while Shaquille Powell gained 22 yards on five carries.

Wide receivers Max McCaffrey and Quay Chambers made three catches each for 43 and 18 yards, respectively, with Fuller adding a 36-yard catch to go with his touchdown reception.

“I thought our offense cranked up when we ran the ball well,” Cutcliffe noted.

“I’m anxious to see why – were we blocking well or were we not playing as intense as we should up front on defense?

The defence forced one turnover on an interception by safety Brandon Feamster, while linebacker Tinashe Bere recorded one quarterback sack.

Safety Jeremy Cash and defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord both were credited with one tackle for loss.

“Our defense has continued on the path of tackling better,” Cutcliffe said.

“We had a number of three-and-outs. Some of those drives that were restarted would have been three-and-outs. We were pleased with that work.”

Cutcliffe noted that 10 scholarship players didn’t scrimmage, and hoped to have more involved during the upcoming week.

“Tuesday is one of the day’s we’re shootin’ for,” Cutcliffe concluded.

“We’re not gonna do much tomorrow (Sunday). I’m gonna give them Monday completely off, the first day of school. I want that to start well. We traditionally do that, so we won’t take the field with pads on until Tuesday morning. So after the next round or two of treatment, hopefully we’ll get a couple of those guys back, if not more than a couple. Everybody’s at kinda different levels. We need all able bodies before we go to New Orleans. We won’t have everybody, but I think we’ll have a good portion of them.”

Following the scrimmage, the Blue Devils held their annual Meet the Blue Devils event that allowed upwards of 3,000 fans to interact with Cutcliffe and the players, as they continue to put finishing touches on preparing to open the 2015 season at Tulane on Thurs., Sept. 3.