'Irritated' Cutcliffe Demands Corrections

The Duke head coach says his team must correct its level of competitiveness this week against Virginia.

There's usually a degree of optimism even after frustrating defeats for Duke. But the Blue Devils head to Virginia with a four-game losing streak and little on the positive side after their latest setback.

In a way, it could serve as a call to order for Duke.

"The fierceness of our team was not what we expect," coach David Cutcliffe said, referring to a 49-14 loss to Miami. "We did have several of them that did compete fiercely, but not enough."

Cutcliffe has demanded that across-the-board corrections take place. Cutcliffe has insisted that the program go about things the right way and he's not attempting to sugarcoat the latest lopsided loss.

"I'm irritated. It's not OK," he said. "It's not acceptable. We intend to correct it."

With three games remaining in the regular season, Duke must win all of them to qualify to play in a bowl. All three games will come against teams (Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina) that already have reached bowl eligibility.

Even with Cutcliffe agitated, he said he won't be the one providing the motivation. He expects it will come from the players.

"If it has to come from me, we have a real problem," he said.

--There's not much for the Blue Devils to build on in terms of confidence, but they might recall that their only ACC victory in 2010 came against Virginia. That's this week's opponent. The stakes seem different at this point as Virginia will play with a chance to move into second place in the ACC's Coastal Division, while Duke is trying to move out of sole possession of last place.

--When Duke and Virginia met last year in Durham, N.C., the Blue Devils won 55-48 when the teams combined for the second-highest point total between two ACC teams. In Duke's last three games this season, the Blue Devils have scored a total of 47 points.

SERIES HISTORY: Virginia leads Duke 32-30, though the Blue Devils have won the past three meetings. That's the longest stretch of wins for Duke in the series since a five-game stretch from 1974-78.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The offense can't afford many mistakes because even when QB Sean Renfree turns in a strong performances in terms of the percentage of completed passes there tends to be problems surfacing. The Blue Devils need to be more productive in their passing attack even though opponents key on taking that away from them. RB Desmond Scott has been steady since returning from an injury, but Duke could use a big game from him. He scored the winning touchdown last year against Virginia.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense had turned in three consecutive solid halves until it was shredded at Miami. So the confidence on this unit might be shaken after it appeared to have made significant strides. The secondary has been revamped to a degree because of injuries. S Matt Daniels tends to be the leader of the entire defense, but he can only do so much. The front line had stiffened considerably against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, but it could be a vulnerable area going forward.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it's an advantage to play teams we're familiar with." -- Coach David Cutcliffe, noting the Blue Devils' final five games are against ACC Coastal Division opponents.


THIS WEEK'S GAME: Duke at Virginia, Nov. 12 -- The Blue Devils are trying to snap a four-game losing streak against a Virginia team that has won its past two games. Duke is coming off a loss at Miami, where Virginia won in late October.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Blue Devils will have to keep tabs on Virginia's rushing attack because that could set the tone and limit the number of touches for Duke's offense. The Blue Devils haven't exactly lit up the scoreboard in recent weeks and they need to cash in on any good field-possession situations that might arise.

WR Donovan Varner -- He's two catches off the school record for a career. Varner's 187 receptions, though, rank only three ahead of teammate WR Conner Vernon.

RB Desmond Scott -- He racked up 176 all-purpose yards against Miami, giving the junior five games in his career with 100 or more all-purpose yards.

S Matt Daniels -- He's the anchor of the defensive backfield. With 10.3 tackles per game, he ranks sixth nationally in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

--WR Jamison Crowder, who's a return specialist, ran back three kickoffs against Miami for a total of 57 yards. By the end, he was hobbled by a hurting hamstring and his availability for the game at Virginia could come into question.

--LB Kelby Brown was banged up physically after the loss at Miami, so monitoring his status leading to the game at Virginia will be crucial for the Blue Devils.

--QB Sean Renfree entered the season as the ACC's most experienced quarterback. But his passing efficiency ranks ninth in the conference at 123.5.

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