Cutcliffe talks injuries, and fast starts

Head coach David Cutcliffe met the media on Tuesday to discuss a number of topics including his team’s strong start, the injury situation, and much more.

On facing Tulane Saturday afternoon

?“I started watching Tulane Sunday after I finished with our Kansas tape, and the more I looked at them, the more I was impressed with the job not only they’re doing coaching, but the job they’re doing recruiting there. This is a team blessed with a lot of athletes. They’re playing some seniors. They’re playing some true freshmen. The theme with Tulane is that they can run. I looked at their offense and their quarterback has a big arm and can make plays. He has people to throw it to. Their backs are really good. They have a couple backs that have great speed. Defensively, their secondary, linebackers, even their defensive front can run. They’ve done a tremendous job down there. We played them in 2011. It doesn’t look anything like the team we played in 2011. It’s just another week where we need to focus on Duke and continue to improve the things that we need to improve and put a good plan together.”

On the injuries to Lucas Patrick and Dezmond Johnson

?“Neither of them were able to work today. Dezmond is probably behind Lucas. We’re still letting treatment settle in. We did get good MRI results on both of them. At this point, I know enough to tell you that. I don’t know enough to give you timetables. Everyone else worked today, and I was glad to see that. We’re early in the week to be saying doubtful or questionable, but certainly questionable is where they are. Stranger things have happened. I don’t want to say too much and look like I was trying to set things up.”

On recruiting the same student-athletes as Tulane

?“We don’t do a lot in the state of Louisiana. If you look at their team, it’s very Louisiana laden, as it should be, particularly in the north New Orleans area. There are a lot of great players in the area. Occasionally [there’s overlap] in Florida, but not as much as you might thing.”

On the play of true freshmen cornerbacks

?“By nature, those guys have to be the right kind of guys. They have to be resilient. They also have to be willing to take a risk and confident in their own abilities to play. I watch freshmen as they play. You don’t want to ruin them. It’s not just them dealing with themselves. I think as coaches, we have to deal with that properly and manage it. With Ross Cockrell, he’s maybe one of the most resilient human beings I’ve been around. He was never fazed. You could challenge Ross when he was young, but there are certain guys you have to manage that.”

On the play of the freshmen linebackers

?“I think we’re getting better. Chris [Holmes] has been there a little longer than Zavier [Carmichael], and that’s why Chris is the starter. I thought Chris showed off his athleticism a couple times. Are they perfect? No, but I don’t see many upperclassmen that are. If they play hard and use their gifts, both of them can really run. Both of them have good ability and instincts to diagnose the ball, get off the spot and go make plays. I think they’ll be a work in progress all year because this isn’t a one game or five game undertaking, but they’re getting there.”

On linebacker David Helton taking a leadership role with the younger linebackers

?“Of all the things that have happened on our team, our team comes together in a lot of different ways. David Helton has been able to step in the middle and be a steady performer, while calming the things around him at the same time. Sometimes when players start focusing on other players, they lose their own effectiveness. David’s done a great job of being the best player he can be, but at the same time, being aware of being a mentor. I think that’s one of the good stories there is on our team, that David Helton has stepped up in such a big way after losing a player as dynamic as Kelby Brown. When I say dynamic, Kelby Brown is a dynamic, big time football player. That was a big role that had to be taken, not only by our coaches, it had to be a player that stepped up, and David Helton has done that.”

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