Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly press conference today, addressing Duke’s 34-27 victory over Wake Forest and their next matchup. Here are some highlights from his 30-minute question and answer session. The Blue Devils (4-1, 1-0 in the ACC) face Virginia (2-3, 0-1) at Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday at 3 p.m.
“We had a lot of people back out there today. I’m not going to go into any particulars on that, so we’ll wait until Thursday to make any type of comment or release on injuries.”—Cutcliffe
Duke paid the price in its first win over Wake Forest since 1999, losing several starters to injury during the game, including starting quarterback Sean Renfree, linebacker David Helton, cornerback Lee Butler and safety Brandon Braxton. Cutcliffe neglected to comment on any specific player’s injury status, noting that most will be assessed as day-to-day.
“Last week I didn’t think Lee Butler or Brandon Connette would be able to play and they progressed throughout the week,” Cutcliffe said. “We’ll release more information on Thursday but some of them will be game-time decisions.”
“We don’t talk about six wins at all, but we talk about what you have to do to compete for championships all the time.”—Cutcliffe
Currently boasting a 4-1 record, the Blue Devils are off to their best start since the 1994 season, which is also the last time Duke reached a bowl game. Cutcliffe said his team’s emphasis this season has not been on reaching the six wins necessary to break the Blue Devils’ 18-year bowl drought, but rather to compete for an ACC championship. Recording its first conference win against the Demon Deacons last weekend, Duke sits tied atop the ACC’s Coastal Division, which appears to be a wide open race following Georgia Tech’s early-season struggles.
“They present a lot of problems regardless of who is at quarterback.”—Cutcliffe
The Blue Devils will have to prepare for not one, but two starting quarterbacks this weekend when they take on the Cavaliers. Virginia has utilized both junior Michael Rocco and sophomore Phillip Sims as signal-callers this season. Rocco has started all five games for the Cavaliers, though Sims has been arguably more effective recording five touchdowns and no interceptions in 46 pass attempts while Roco has registered six touchdowns and eight interceptions in 146 throws.
Sims replaced Rocco in the second half of Virginia’s 44-38 loss to Louisiana Tech last weekend after Rocco threw three interceptions in the first half. Sims led the Cavaliers on two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to nearly complete the comeback. Virginia has not made any announcement concerning who will start when it faces Duke.
“We are going to evaluate everything that we do and the who and who the personnel is,” Virginia head coach Mike London said in his weekly press conference Monday. “For me, Coach Lazor and the offensive staff – for everyone to understand that it’s not just about one individual – it’s about the team and about who gives us the best chance. And that decision will be made very soon.”
Cutcliffe added that Duke has been gameplanning to face both quarterbacks. Regardless of who starts for the Cavaliers, the Blue Devils want to be ready for anything.
“Both quarterbacks have played well. Rocco has played well,” Cutcliffe said. “Whichever way it goes we’re going to have to play really well defensively with these guys because they have so many weapons.”
“We had some takeaways. We didn’t have gifts, we had takeaways.”—Cutcliffe
After turning the ball over four times against Memphis and failing to force a turnover for the first time this season, Duke came away with a decisive win in the turnover battle against Wake Forest. The Blue Devils forced four Demon Deacon turnovers and limited themselves to turning the ball over just once in last week’s win.
Duke will have another chance to win the turnover battle this weekend against a Virginia team that has not taken great care of the ball this season. In addition to Rocco’s eight interceptions in 2012, the Cavaliers have lost five of their six fumbles.
“I’m very appreciative of not only President Broadhead and Dr. White but the entire Duke community.”—Cutcliffe
Over the weekend, the university announced the launch of the Duke Forward campaign, a $3.25 billion university-wide capital campaign. About $250 million from the Duke Forward campaign will go toward Duke Athletics, including $100 million to facility upgrades. Wallace Wade Stadium, which has been home to Duke football since 1929, will receive a portion of these assets for renovations.
Cutcliffe had the opportunity to react to the announcement Tuesday.
“As far as football, I think it’s huge. We have really fine practice facilities and we’ve really improved it,” Cutcliffe said. “Wallace Wade Stadium, that stadium has got character and charisma and was well built and has served well throughout all this time. But the facelift is needed, and it’s going to be done respectfully.”
For more information about the Duke Forward campaign and proposed upgrades to both Wallace Wade Stadium and Cameron Indoor Stadium, check out our article on The Chronicle’s main page.