Cutcliffe: Specials Teams is very strong

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe met the media today on the first ACC conference call of the season. Here’s what he had to say.

On the team’s first game of the season:
“This is always the most exciting time for a football program, team and coaching staff. It may be the most anxious time. Even if you know that there are going to be games that become big games later in the season, that’s just the nature of the beast. Opening games in college football are unique. I even get nervous for other people. We’re the sport that does nothing exhibition; nothing in the spring against an opponent. We’ve been playing each other since Feb. 9. You think you have an idea, but each year is such a mystery of what your team is going to do or how they’re going to respond. We’re playing an opponent that we’re familiar with, to some degree, but we’re also not familiar with. I think they’re going to be extremely well coached. I know the type of job they do both offensively and defensively, so we’ll be tested and that’ll be a great thing for our team.”

On approaching an Elon team with a new head coach:
“The technology we have is great. We don’t have a paper scouting report. What we’ve done, we go into the scouting report, and the first focus on any scouting report is personnel. We isolate and cut out a bunch of Elon tape of returning personnel. We see the running back play. We see the quarterback play. We see the linemen that are returning. Vice versa, we see the linebackers, the defensive front, the secondary, the punter, the kicker. We look at all of the operations. We have the information there. You feel like you have some idea and you put the game plan together schematically.”

On a young group in the Duke secondary:
“I think it’s very similar [from last season’s secondary group]. You’re going to see Alonzo [Saxton II] and Jack [Muñiz] playing at corner. They had a great camp. Bryon [Fields] and Breon [Borders] benefitted so much from last year. You don’t look at them as sophomores. They have a lot of snaps under their belt. I think our safety position gives us some real rotation opportunities. I like what we’re doing back there. Matt Guerrieri coaches our safeties and does a tremendous job being able to teach systematically where guys can play different positions.”

On the Duke special teams units:
“I think this could be the best special teams unit I’ve had, anywhere I’ve been. Starting with the return men, both of those are guys that can take it all the way, every time they touch it. Next one I’m going to go to is Thomas Hennessy, who’s had a great spring as a long snapper. He is spot on. Will [Monday] and Ross [Martin] also had really good camps. From a standpoint of consistency, we’re far better than we were a year ago at this time. We also have guys that can block and cover. I’m anxious to see us cover kicks, too. I’m anxious to see this team’s athleticism show up in those areas.”

On Boone as a fifth-year senior:
“When you get into our system, you’re going to learn football inside and out. You’re going to learn command. You’ve got the reigns. You see the product of that as it goes on into the NFL. Right now, Anthony could call a game. I think Anthony could tell what every person is doing on offense, every play. He understands every one of our pass protections. The consistency should come with that knowledge. Don’t think we don’t continue to work on fundamentals. It’s why you see Peyton [Manning] and Eli [Manning] come back here. They like to go back into that role for some fundamental work. As a fifth-year senior, I expect Boone to be the best he’s been in ball handling, the best he’s been from an accuracy standpoint, the best he’s been with his footwork and the best he’s been running the football.”

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