Head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly press conference today, addressing Duke’s season-opening victory over Florida International and their next matchup. Here are some highlights from his 30-minute question and answer session. The Blue Devils (1-0) go on the road this Saturday to face No. 25 Stanford at 10:30 p.m.
All players who played against Florida International practiced today.
The injury bug bit the Blue Devils hard over the course of the summer, but that was not the case in the team’s season-opening victory over the Golden Panthers. After having 11 players listed as “out” or “out for season” on Duke’s first injury report, the Blue Devil coach was relieved to report that the team incurred no substantial injuries last weekend.
“We do have bumps and bruises, and I think it took us a little while to get past that this morning because our defense played about 98 snaps in this past ballgame,” Cutcliffe said. “Our offense is a little less beat up than our defense is. We’ll make sure we’re as fresh as we can be.”
Duke faces road test against a ranked Stanford team.
After a 44-14 loss to the Cardinal at home last season, the Blue Devils travel to California this weekend to face No. 25 Stanford. Despite the loss of top-overall pick Andrew Luck, the Cardinal has a number of offensive weapons returning behind junior quarterback Josh Nunes. Stanford struggled in its season-opener, a 20-17 victory over San Jose State, though Duke understands history is working against them in this cross-country road game. The Blue Devils have not defeated a ranked opponent on the road since 1971. That opponent was Stanford.
“Having played Stanford a year ago, they understand the challenge of this game and how good a football team Stanford has,” Cutcliffe said.
“How great was that to see our team ready for that moment.”–Cutcliffe
Cutcliffe on Duke’s blocked field goal to end the first half against FIU. Linebacker Austin Gamble blocked the kick and cornerback Ross Cockrell scooped the ball up and ran 75 yards for a touchdown as time expired. The play gave the Blue Devils a 37-14 lead at the half and put the game out of reach.
“Who knew it was going to be blocked, you don’t know that, but for that moment look at how many blue shirts there were [around the ball],” Cutcliffe said. “Look at all of those guys rallying at that time. That’s what happens when you’re trying to win the game every play.”
“A relentless pursuit of excellence is what Conner Vernon is.”–Cutcliffe
Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon was named one of the ACC’s Players of the Week, earning the top honor for receivers after a stellar week one performance. Vernon led all receivers with 10 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown against FIU. With 10 receptions, Vernon became the Blue Devils’ all-time leader in receptions with 208 for his career. He now needs just 25 catches to eclipse the ACC’s all-time record of 232 receptions, currently held by Clemson’s Aaron Kelly.