Tag Archives: Thaddeus Lewis

Thaddeus Lewis, Jacory Harris To Renew Old Friendship

When Miami comes to Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday, Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris and Blue Devil signal-caller Thaddeus Lewis won’t just be looking to improve their teams’ ACC records. The two have a bit of shared history from their time as high school quarterbacks in Miami-Dade County, Fla.

Harris, a freshman who splits time with Robert Marve, and Lewis, now a junior and the solidified starter, grew up about 20 miles away from each other in South Florida.

After Miami’s 20-14 win Saturday against UCF, Harris was asked about playing Duke, and said he was excited to take on Lewis. In high school, the two occasionally worked out together in Opa Locka, close to Lewis’ hometown of Hialeah Lakes, and in the interview with radio station 560 WQAM, Harris credited his rival with “getting him into playing quarterback.”

Harris took the starting job at Northwestern High School in 2006, when Lewis was already getting settled in Durham, so the two never met on the gridiron in Florida. Nonetheless, Harris could have chosen to play another position or another sport altogether in 2004 and 2005, but stuck with quarterbacks thanks in part to Lewis’ guidance.

Lewis earned team MVP honors in his last three seasons at unheralded Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School, a school with no district championships since 1990. Harris, meanwhile, quarterbacked powerhouse Northwestern to state championships in 2006 and 2007; last season the Bulls also defeated Southlake Carroll High, one of the best teams in Texas and the school that produced Missouri star Chase Daniel, en route to an unofficial ranking as the nation’s best team.

For comparisons of the two schools’ pedigrees, just check out their records from last year. Northwestern went 15-0, including a 63-0 thrashing of Lewis’ alma mater, and a whopping seven Bulls received scholarships to Miami; in contrast, Hialeah-Miami Lakes went just 1-10 in 2007.

The recent differences between Miami and Duke are vast, but nowhere near as oceanic as that.

–by Gabe Starosta

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Q&A With Larry Coker

Larry Coker was one disputed pass interference call away from leading Miami to back-to-back national championships in 2001 and 2002. Now, he’s the color analyst for ESPNU and has covered three of Duke’s games this year—its wins over Navy and Virginia and its loss to Georgia Tech. The Chronicle’s Ben Cohen caught up with Coker Tuesday to discuss his impressions of the Blue Devils, his recruitment of Duke defensive lineman Vince Oghobaase and his prediction for this weekend as Duke welcomes the Hurricanes.

How does this year’s Duke team compare to the teams that you coached against?

I think it’s probably the best that’s been around in a few years.

You’ve seen the pass-catch combination of Thaddeus Lewis and Eron Riley three times this year. What kind of potential do they have on the next level?

They have a lot of potential, they could be Sunday-type players, especially if Lewis can get some help with the running game—it’s going to make him a lot better. I know Harris is doing a pretty good job, Hollingsworth did a nice job the last time I saw him [against Virginia Sept. 27]. I think [Lewis and Riley] are both Sunday-type players.

Given linebacker Michael Tauiliili’s season so far, is he the favorite for ACC Defensive Player of the Year?

I don’t know that—I know he has all-league potential. Vince Oghobaase, too.

Were you surprised Oghobaase came to Duke instead of other highly touted programs?

Yes, I think it was a decision he and his family made for his eduaction and for the right reasons, but i was surpsirsed. I thought he would probably end up… it was Duke or [Miami]. I thought we were going to get him.

Can all the changes from this year’s team to those of the last few years be attributed to change at the top of the program, starting with Cutcliffe?

Well, it was the previous staff that recruited these players. Ted Roof did a really good job recruiting and this was kind of the year that he had built for. But the new staff and attitude of David Cutcliffe and the stamp he puts on this team and the staff he’s put around him—it just personifies those good players that have matured.

How difficult is it for Lewis to succeed if he doesn’t have a legitimate running threat?

It’s pretty hard. You’re going to get a lot of different pressure. If you can run the football, it makes a lot of difference how you put pressure on the passer. I think it’s pretty hard to just be a good passing team and not being able to run the ball.

What are your thoughts on this weekend’s Duke-Miami matchup?

Miami’s got a lot of talent. That’s going to be the key, whether Duke can protect the quarterback. If they can, they’ll have some chances in the passing game. Defensively, Duket is pretty good. Javaris James, the running back, will help Miami. Miami didn’t play well last week, so they’ll want to step out of the shell and play great. It’ll be a challenge for Duke—it’ll be a really good game. It’s kind of a tossup game.

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Idle Blue Devils Watch ACC Enjoy Saturday

Duke rested up in its second bye week of the year Saturday, but its ACC opponents managed to rack up a perfect 4-0 record Saturday–even if some games were uglier than they should have been.

Georgia Tech, the squad that manhandled the Blue Devils last week in a 27-0 win, squeaked past Gardner-Webb, 10-7, while Miami’s 20-14 win over Central Florida was not much prettier. Virginia, though, completed its three-week transformation from sullen to surging. Two weeks ago, the Cavaliers were pounded by Duke 31-3. Last week, they turned around to rout Maryland 31-0, just one week after Maryland had edged Clemson when that still meant something. This week, Virginia beat former Division-I darling East Carolina 35-20. And lastly, No. 22 North Carolina earned the admiration of most college football fans when the Tar Heels stormed back and held on to a 29-24 win over Notre Dame in Chapel Hill.

The non-conference portion of Duke’s schedule, however, didn’t fare as well. Northwestern lost to No. 23 Michigan State, surprisingly for the Wildcats’ first defeat of the season. No. 13 Vanderbilt–the fact that the Commodores are a top-15 team is an even bigger shocker than Northwestern’s fast start–showed cracks of vulnerability for the first time in a 17-14 loss to Mississippi State. Division I-AA James Madison, though, did top Richmond 38-31 on a last-second kick return for the win.

While every week in college football–especially in the ACC–is exciting, Duke had particular reason to watch the action this time (quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, for one, was down Tobacco Road to watch Notre Dame’s Armando Allen, his high school running back).

On Saturday, none of Duke’s ACC opponents played another ACC team, allowing the Blue Devils to root for their conference members wholeheartedly. And while the out-of-conference losses hurt, they don’t hinder the progress the ACC made this week. If only Clemson and Wake Forest could have put on a better (read: respectable) show Thursday night.

–by Ben Cohen

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Making The Grade: Duke-Georgia Tech

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Riley Listed As Questionable For Saturday

Duke senior wide receiver Eron Riley is listed as questionable for Saturday’s noon game at Georgia Tech because of a hand injury he sustained during midweek practice. The team’s injury report went out today, and Sports Information Director Art Chase confirmed the time of the injury.

Riley, who leads the ACC and is third in the nation with six touchdown receptions, was previously listed as probable for Duke’s Sept. 13 game against Navy. He played, and score three touchdowns in the process.

This week’s game has extra meaning for Riley, who hails from Georgia and was snubbed of a scholarship offer from the Yellow Jackets. And given quarterback Thaddeus Lewis’ comments Tuesday, we would expect Riley to be burning Georgia Tech cornerbacks in Atlanta come Saturday.

“I know that with Georgia Tech, Eron Riley is ready to play,” Lewis said. “You could cut one of his fingers off and that guy’s still going to play in this game.”

Freshman cornerback Lee Butler is doubtful Saturday. Complete injury report after the jump. Continue reading

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Talking Football: Duke-Georgia Tech Video Preview

Fifth episode of Talking Football, this time filmed on the Bryan Center Plaza. Both Cohen and Iles pick Georgia Tech to beat Duke, and for different reasons. Some points of discussion: the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense, how playing Navy will help Duke and whether Georgia Tech’s defense can stop Thaddeus Lewis and Eron Riley.

Feel free to offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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X’s and O’s: Former Players, Forever Fans

Wednesday’s print edition features a story called “Former Players, Forever Fans” about past Duke football players cheering for this year’s Blue Devils. In the second episode of X’s and O’s, in which Chronicle writers offer the story behind the story, Ben Cohen talks more about the players, how they feel about the team’s newfound success and whether they take some credit for it.

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