Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly postgame teleconference today, addressing Duke’s 41-20 loss to Virginia Tech Saturday. Here are some highlights from his question and answer session. The Blue Devils (5-2, 2-1 in the ACC) take on North Carolina (5-2, 2-1) in their next contest.
“We’ve got a lot to learn still about handling adversity. We didn’t handle it as well as we’d have liked, but we’ll put it behind us and get back to work.”
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter of Saturday’s game before allowing the Hokies to score 41 unanswered points to put the game away. Duke looked as though it was in firm control of the game in the early going before Virginia Tech came storming back for a decisive win. After gaining 150 yards of total offense in the first quarter, the Blue Devils managed just 189 yards in the game’s final three periods.
“The thing we did early that didn’t happen as the game went on, we took care of the ball early and we forced a turnover. That’s a trend we need to have to be successful.”
Duke took advantage of an early mistake by the Hokies in Saturday’s contest when safety Jordon Byas returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown. Byas’ touchdown extended the Blue Devils’ advantage to 20-0, but they did not force another turnover in the contest and Virginia Tech forced four turnovers of their own.
“He was looked at by the medical staff and they told me pretty quickly he was fine. There was no diagnosis of any type of concussion.”
Quarterback Sean Renfree was forced out of the game for more than a series after taking a vicious hit in the second quarter of Saturday’s game. Backup quarterback Anthony Boone took the reins for the Blue Devils until Renfree returned and finished the game. Although Renfree was not diagnosed with a concussion, Cutcliffe said he kept his signal-caller out of the game for an extra series as a precaution. The Blue Devil coach also addressed the hit on Renfree, which came as he was attempting to slide at the end of a run. In the NFL, a defensive player will be penalized if he hits a quarterback attempting to give himself up, but there is no such rule at the collegiate level—as a result no penalty was assessed.
“It’s not [the rule]. It should be, but it’s not. The only thing that could have been called, I guess you could have argued the late hit,” Cutcliffe said. “The defender doesn’t know he’s getting ready to go down, so that’s hard. The only thing you could go to is did they give him a blow to the head, and that’s inconclusive on tape. That’s all the official can do, is call what he sees. On Sundays that’s a big foul. It probably could have been called either way, but thank goodness Sean is fine.”