Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly press conference today, addressing Duke’s 48-7 loss to Florida State and their next matchup. Here are some highlights from his 30-minute question-and-answer session. The Blue Devils (6-3, 3-2 in the ACC) face No. 10 Clemson (7-1, 4-1) at Wallace Wade Stadium this Saturday at 7 p.m.
Sean Renfree and Juwan Thompson both returned to practice Tuesday.
After leaving Saturday’s 48-7 loss to Florida State in the second quarter due to injury, Duke quarterback Sean Renfree and running back Juwan Thompson made a speedy return to the practice field Tuesday. Renfree, who had been diagnosed with a concussion, was cleared by team doctors before returning to play. Although neither player was at full strength and will continue to be evaluated by Duke’s medical staff throughout the week, the Blue Devils are hopeful that they will not feel lingering effects from last week’s loss to the Seminoles as the team prepares for another ACC test against Clemson.
“I thought our team moved around well. We still have a few people with some pretty significant bumps and bruises, but I’m hopeful that we get almost everybody back,” Cutcliffe said.
“November football at night. That’s the first thought I had. I like that.”—Cutcliffe
The Blue Devils will face the Tigers under the lights this weekend at Wallace Wade Stadium, marking yet another home night game for Duke. The team has played just one of its six home games this season before 6 p.m., and following the Blue Devils’ early-season success, they will get to play in front of a nationally televised audience for the third-consecutive week. Saturday’s matchup between Duke and Clemson will be broadcast on ESPN2.
“November football at night means television. Television means meaningful football games,” Cutcliffe said. “That’s a very positive thing. When you’re playing very meaningful football games you’re playing good teams. Clemson is an ACC Championship team.”
“They have as many weapons as anybody in football. They can run it, they have great receivers, their quarterback has played at a high level for quite some time now. They execute.”—Cutcliffe
Clemson is arguably the most dynamic football team in the ACC at the skill positions, which will pose another daunting task for Duke’s defense this weekend. The Tigers are led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, who has posted over 2,300 passing yards on the season and has thrown 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Boyd also has the conference’s most dangerous receiving corps which features the conference’s second-leading receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, who has caught 10 touchdowns on the year and averages 113.6 receiving yards per game, and dangerous second target in Sammy Watkins. After allowing 282 yards through the air to Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel on just eight completions last week, the Blue Devils will need to minimize big plays through the air against a dangerous Clemson offense.
“You’re not going to stop a team like Clemson. You have to minimize the damage,” Cutcliffe said. “We’ve got to minimize some of the big plays that we give up last week. We can’t afford to let that become a theme.”
“We have players that it’s important for them to play in Wallace Wade—I really like that. They’ve invested a lot into Duke football and they’re very proud of our home stadium.”—Cutcliffe
Duke returns home to Wallace Wade Stadium this weekend, where it is a perfect 5-0 this season. The Blue Devils are also yet to lose back-to-back games this year, following each of its first two road losses to Stanford and Virginia Tech with home wins against N.C. Central and North Carolina. They hope to continue this trend this weekend against Clemson, and a win would be Duke’s first against a ranked opponent since 1994.