Head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly press conference today, addressing Duke’s loss to No. 25 Stanford and their next matchup. Here are some highlights from his 30-minute question and answer session. The Blue Devils (1-1) face North Carolina Central (1-1) this Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Bull City Classic.
“I don’t think we should let this day go by without thought and without prayer and without feelings about what occurred to so many innocent people and so many lives. We all remember where we were.”–Cutcliffe
The Blue Devil coach opened his press conference by providing his thoughts on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Cutcliffe, who at the time was the head coach at the University of Mississippi, reflected on his experience that day.
“It hits me particularly because I go back to preparing for a football game and Mike MacIntyre who had been in a room with a television comes back into the staff room and says ‘Coach something’s happened in New York.’ We all got up and went there and stood in front of the TV and suddenly football just disappeared,” Cutcliffe said.
“Would you choose things differently? I would say that’s true in every game you play.”–Cutcliffe
Coach Cutcliffe’s offensive playcalling came under question in Duke’s 50-13 loss to Stanford last weekend, and was often criticized as being too conservative. Cutcliffe responded to these criticisms, saying there are things he wished he’d done differently, but according to the Blue Devil coach, “the biggest problem wasn’t schematic”. Citing blocking and tackling as the Duke’s two greatest weaknesses in its loss to the Cardinal, Cutcliffe also revealed that many of the short and conservative swing passes the Blue Devils ran in the first half were not originally designed that way.
“A lot of the quick throws are off of called runs,” Cutcliffe said. “You can’t see that, but it’s a run and the quarterback is in an option mode trying to get the run game started and keep their pass rush a little honest.”
“Desmond Scott has been amazingly unselfish and he is amazingly skilled.”–Cutcliffe
After a quiet first game against Florida International, Scott was one of the few bright spots for Duke in Saturday’s loss to Stanford. After making the transition from running back to wide receiver in the offseason, Scott made an impact for the Blue Devils in week two, catching 11 passes for 83 yards. Cutcliffe did say that Scott’s role will vary from week to week, but lauded the senior for his leadership and willingness to take these roles on in order to help his team.
“I’m excited about this week because I love our community. I know it’s a Bull City Classic but I like to think of it as a Bull City celebration.”–Cutcliffe
For the second time in program history, the Blue Devils will square off with NC Central this weekend in what has been dubbed the Bull City Classic. The teams met for the first time ever in 2009, when Duke defeated the Eagles 49-14 at Wallace Wade Stadium. Cutcliffe said he enjoyed the event because it brings together the greater Durham community, and was optimistic that Durhamites will come out in droves to take in this game. The head coach was hopeful that the game could draw over 35,000 fans, a feat Duke has accomplished at a home game just once since 2001.
“I’ve watched NC Central improve from game one to game two. Neither one of us had the results we wanted in game two, but I watched them get better as that game went on. I know that we will see a well prepared, hungry football team.”–Cutcliffe
After defeating Fayetteville State 54-31 in their season-opener, the Eagles traveled to Elon last week and fell 34-14. Despite the lopsided loss in week two, Cutcliffe was adamant that he had seen many of NC Central’s units show signs of improvement throughout the game.
“I thought their pass rush improved a great deal from one week to the next. Their coverage, the same thing,” Cutcliffe said. “And I think they made a big jump in the kicking game and their kicking game was good the first game. They sured things up well as a staff from game one to game two, so that’s obviously a trend that will continue.”