DURHAM, N.C. – Everything will start with the quarterback for the Duke Football team.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper said junior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is in charge of everything out on the field, from knowing where players are supposed to be lined up, to decision making with the football.
“His understanding of our scheme has definitely improved,” Roper said. “I think now he has started to be able to visualize things. Until a quarterback can see images in his head when he is reading play calls then he has not really learned it yet, so I think he is able to see the play in his mind’s eye now which is important.”
Lewis, who has started 23-of-24 games since his freshman year, is ready to orchestrate the Blue Devils' offense.
“In this offense you have to learn what everybody does,” Lewis said. “Once you learn the concepts of the offense and what is going on then you can be successful, because there is a lot going on. We get put in a situation where you have several routes in the package that can change based on coverage, so you just have to know what is going on and where you are going with the football. It took a lot of studying, but once you get the concepts down it is pretty simple.”
Players around Lewis have also started to notice the maturation and hard work that he has put in for this season.
“You sit back and look and Thad knows the offense better than any offense we have had,” sixth-year tight end Tielor Robinson said. “He has been running it perfectly. We went out in the summer and did pass drills he didn't need his card, he just calls the play. He knows the situational aspects. Everyone understands their role and holds themselves accountable. If we do what we are supposed to do I don’t think anyone can stop us.”
“I am excited about the quarterbacks,” senior offensive tackle Fred Roland said. “They are really sharp. They are out there getting their assignments done. They are leading us like they are suppose to and I can not ask for more than that.”
In his first two seasons behind center Lewis has accumulated 4,564 yards and 32 touchdowns. As a sophomore, Lewis increased his touchdown passes from 11 to 21, his completions percentage from 52.9 percent to 55.3 percent and decreased his interceptions from 16 to 10.
“He has a lot of game experience which is important, that’s hard to teach,” Roper said of Lewis. “He has already been in tough environments in ACC games and played against really good people and he has thrown the ball well in the past. He has made good decisions with the ball and had good touchdown to interception ratios so hopefully we can continue that.”
The Blue Devils opened camp on Monday with their first practice.
“I feel like it [first practice] went okay,” Lewis said. “You know there is always room for improvement. My mistakes and everything that I made I am going to go back and watch the film and make sure I correct them tomorrow.”
“(Asack) is a big strong guy that is athletic and can run,” Roper said. “I think his passing is better than what people initially think. He is more accurate with the ball then what you initially think when you watch him. He is a guy that is tough and can make plays with his feet and make plays throwing the ball.”
Cappetto missed a lot of spring practices because of an injury.
“Mike (Cappetto) has really good feet,” Roper said. “He is an athletic quarterback as far as pocket passers go. I like where he is with his foot work and I like where he is right now with his understanding with limited reps.”
Roper said he has only seen Renfree go through a single practice because the freshman was not on campus for spring workouts.
“We just got Sean in so we're anxious to learn more about him, but he has got a lot of the tools, the size, the intelligence and the arm strength,” Roper said. “He has got a long way to go to learn the offense but he has a lot of tools.”
Renfree was rated the number ten quarterback in the country by Scout.com. As a senior at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Ariz., Renfree threw for 3,353 yards completing 197-of-357 passes with 41 touchdowns.
“Sean Renfree is going to be a special player,” Lewis said. “The guy knows football. He can throw the heck out of the football. He is a pretty smart player. Once he gets some experience and gets to know the system he is going to be a very good player.”
“(Renfree) has great touch and spins the ball nicely,” head coach David Cutcliffe said. “I have been in meetings with him and I really know how well he studied. He is really sharp and that is a big part of it. And it looks like he can make all the throws. He needs to learn the speed of the college game, but I have never been around one yet that did not.”