Duke's running game takes some hits

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Duke running backs coach Zac Roper might have the toughest job on the staff right now. Leading rusher and senior Re'quan Boyette is still being evaluated after having cartilage surgery on his left knee, and his backup, senior Clifford Harris, has a minor hamstring pull.

"We thought we were going to have two seniors that were going to take most of the reps," Roper said. "Obviously we think those guys will get back as quickly as they can, and when those two guys get back everything will be back to normal, but we're trying to add as much depth as we can."

Here's a breakdown of what Roper has to work with:

  • Harris has played fullback and tailback, and he knows the system and is also a good special teams player. He's been out of contract drills for three days now, though, and they need him back as soon as possible.

  • Sophomore Tony Jackson has been getting the most reps. In the spring, the staff wanted to add some firepower to the position and thought Jackson's speed would help, so they moved him from safety. He proved it was a the right move with a 75-yard touchdown run in the spring game. Jackson is still learning pass protection, but understands what the staff wants scheme-wise and has some explosiveness. He'll be getting most of the reps, but has had limited contact this week because of an upper body injury.

  • Freshman Jay Hollingsworth, a local player from Sanford, N.C., runs with good natural pad leverage and was listed as the No. 76 running back in the nation by ESPN.com.

  • Patrick Kurunwune of Austin, Texas, has been getting increased reps and continues to learn.

  • Cameron Jones, a redshirt freshman, hasn't played yet, but just about everyone else in his family has, so he knows he's got a tradition to uphold. His father, Cedric, was a standout receiver at Duke; his brother, Colin, is a redshirt freshman cornerback; and his uncle, Walter Jones, was a leading receiver at Duke during the Blue Devils' 1989 ACC championship team. Oh, and his cousin, Tielor Robinson, is a senior fullback and his mom, Melanie Davis-Jones, also went to school here.

Best-case scenario? Clifford Harris comes back ASAP.