Practicing snaps with Duke’s quarterbacks every day have become as routine as breakfast in the morning for Duke center Brian Moore.
“I make him snap every day here,” said Duke offensive line coach Matt Luke. “I don’t think he likes me very much for that.”
Duke’s offense will appreciate it, though, this fall.
One of the best (and most unheralded and unrecognized) position changes in the ACC this offseason was at Duke, where Moore moved from right guard to center. Moore had played almost every snap at right guard for the past two seasons, but he is talented enough that he was one of 42 players and four ACC centers on the 2011 Rimington Trophy Watch List. As a true freshman, Moore practiced as a backup center, but the fact that he hasn’t played the position in a game situation speaks volumes about what others think of his potential.
“He’s well-respected in the league,” Luke said. “He’s played a bunch. People probably view him as a better center prospect than a guard prospect as far as the NFL goes, but he plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Despite the fact he’s replacing a three-year starter at a position he never played, Moore’s move could actually be an upgrade to a line that returns four starters. His knowledge of the offense coupled with his size makes the position a better fit for him than guard. At 6-foot-3, 285 pounds, he’s a prototypical center and won’t be overmatched as much as he was at guard.
The only problem with Moore’s move is that now the offensive line loses significant experience at the right guard position. John Coleman and Laken Tomlinson are the top two candidates to take over.
“That’s always a concern,” Luke said. “We have some bigger bodies that we’re able to put in there that I think have a chance to be a good combination. They just haven’t played a whole bunch. That right guard spot is going to be one that somebody is going to have to step in there and do a great job just because we lose a bunch of experience.”
Duke’s passing game has flourished under coach David Cutcliffe, but the running game has consistently struggled. Improvement up front will help the Blue Devils, who ranked 104th in the country and last in the ACC last year in rushing offense.
“We’ve been getting better steadily,” Luke said. “They need to have the confidence they can physically take over a game instead of just get by. … We are a very athletic offensive line. We’ve gotten so much better just from a physical standpoint. Now they have to take it to the next level and have the confidence they can take over a game. I’m hoping they can take it to that level this year.”