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October 11, 2006Last week's strong performance at Alabama has reignited the competition for spots in the weekly HOT 11. Several players made some solid arguments for inclusion, and here's this week's picks.
Requan Boyette-Boyette stole the show for the Duke rushing attack against Alabama. He hit holes hard, made defenders miss and broke tackles on his way to a 97 yard effort on just nine carries. Boyette should have positive vibes entering this weekend's game against Florida State. Not only is he coming off a great game, but last year against the Seminoles Boyette rushed for 123 yards including a 78-yard touchdown.
Codey Lowe-Duke's fifth year senior linebacker picked up a pair of sacks last week against the Crimson Tide and raised his tackles for loss total to five for the season. Lowe does have some limitations, but he has had by far his most productive season as a Blue Devil. He's on pace to have 60 tackles at the end of the year.
Eron Riley-Duke struggled to consistently pass the ball last week, but Riley provided two big highlights through the air, one when he caught the game's first touchdown pass on a nine yard crossing route and another when he caught a long pass down the left sideline to set up another score. Riley has been Duke's best downfield threat. He has caught a pass for at least 16 yards in every game and in two games has made catches for 35 or more yards.
John Talley-Duke's senior cornerback had a couple of tough plays last week, but his interception and subsequent return deep into Alabama territory keep him on this list. He'll have his hands full this Saturday against an always talented Florida State receiving corps. Talley continues to be a solid tackler for a cornerback. He added three more stops last week to his season total, bringing his year to date number to 22.
Casey Camero-For the second time this season, Camero blocked an extra point in the Alabama game, which could have been huge if Joe Surgan had connected on his field goal try that would have put Duke ahead 17-16 late in the third quarter. Camero's defensive numbers are not overly impressive on paper, but Duke's added depth means he doesn't have to be on the field quite as much as he has in the past. He'll play a big role this week against a Florida State rushing attack that ranks ninth in the ACC. Ted Roof continues to laud Camero's leadership qualities.
Jeramy Edwards-Another senior defensive playmaker, Edwards had a stellar game against Alabama last week by recording 10 tackles. He made a couple of solo stops that could have easily been big gainers if he hadn't moved quickly to plug a developing hole. Edwards is quietly putting together a very solid season. At his current pace, he'll finish the year with 75-80 tackles and a handful of tackles for loss.
Clifford Harris-Harris was a big factor in the Alabama game, taking a couple of snaps at quarterback and rushing for 30 yards on six carries. He doesn't get a lot of ink, but Harris is one of the most valuable members of the team. He just goes about his business and produces when called upon, while also playing a key role on Duke's special teams cover units.
Thaddeus Lewis-Duke's freshman quarterback threw his second touchdown pass of the season and ran for his first score against the Crimson Tide. While his passing numbers as a whole were a little erratic and he did throw a pair of interceptions, Lewis looked more poised in the pocket following a disastrous effort against Virginia the week prior. He'll face an injury depleted Florida State defense this weekend, which should help him survive the always swarming and aggressive Seminoles.
Mike Tauiliili-Tauiliili added another seven tackles against the Crimson Tide to keep him on track for a 90 plus tackle season. Tauiliili had a terrific game last year against Florida State when he picked up 10 tackles in Duke's 55-24 loss. He'll need a similar effort this year to help Duke's defense keep the game low scoring and help the Blue Devils win the field position struggle.
Jabari Marshall-A little bit lost in last week's game was Marshall's very solid performance returning kickoffs. Marshall returned five kicks for an average of 26.2 yards per return and a long return of 38. He was one step away from breaking a couple of really long ones, just as he has been multiple times this season. He can be a difference maker on special teams. For Duke to have a chance at an upset Saturday, Marshall will probably need to break a long return or two to help the Blue Devil offense.
Eli Nichols-So what if he's not playing? Nichols deserves another week on the list because he is one of few players in the college football who can be just as strong a leader off the field as he is between the white lines. Nichols won't make a single tackle this week due to injury, but if Duke's defense can continue its hard nosed play so far displayed this season, Nichols' fingerprints will be all over the effort.
Moved in: Boyette, Lowe, Edwards, Harris, Marshall
Dropped out: Marcus Jones, Patrick Bailey, Adrian Aye-Darko, Ronnie Drummer, Raphael Chestnut