OPENING STATEMENT: Playing the first home game is so significant in so many ways. Obviously first, it’s the opening of the stadium. I think both schools will benefit. It’s going to be gorgeous. And the spectators are in for a treat. They’re much closer to the game. That’s huge. I think it’s great for our players, this opportunity to come through a tunnel that’s been renovated onto a playing surface that’s first class. I know our seniors have talked about it a lot. I also think it’s meaningful because it’s the Bull City Classic – it’s Durham on display. North Carolina Central has certainly done their part. They played exceptionally well in their opener in all three phases.
Q. On NC Central:
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Coach Mack has done a great job not only on the field, I think he’s done a great job off the field. He has created excitement not only in the Central community but also in the Durham community. We’ve got two great universities. Forget the athletic part of it, we’ve got a lot of young people who are going to make a difference in their communities, wherever they end up. It’s a real chance to celebrate our great community.”
Q. On QB Thomas Sirk
COACH CUTCLIFFE: I was confident because we had put [Sirk] in all of those circumstances and situations in practice. I’ve just seen him execute. Coach Montgomery has done a great job with him over the last two years and he was ready to play. I think he’ll be better this week. I think, with quarterbacks particularly, it’s very difficult to get a quarterback enough real, live, 11 on 11 play because of numbers in practice. So games are so critical.
Q. On improvement from week one:
COACH CUTCLIFFE: We want to build upon our ability to tackle. I thought we tackled well. We’ll be really tested by a very gifted, athletic, fast football team. I want to see if we can continue that trend. I want to see our offensive line play as well as it can play. I think it played well but I don’t think we played as well as we can play.
Q. On LB Zavier Carmichael:
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Zavier is conscientious person. One of the things I would tell Zavier is don’t change. Be conscientious. When you’re as conscientious as he is and prepare as well, those kind of nerves sometimes create an edge that can be okay. I don’t think he lacks confidence. I know he can do what we want him to do. I kind of like that as long as you’re not hesitant to make a play. I was a little nervous, and I’ve been doing it a long time. He’s a second-year guy but a rookie starter. I’ve been telling him just use it to your advantage.
Q. On Duke’s level of athletic ability:
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Recruiting has continued each year to grow. We said from the very beginning we were going to recruit speed. I do think we’ve done that. Our defensive front is athletic, we have athletic linebackers, we can run at wide receiver, our backs everybody knows are good. I think we’ve done a good job of evaluating offensive linemen. Athleticism is not just skill players. When your team really gets better is when you play athleticism on both lines of scrimmage. We’ve got a ways yet to go there, but it’s something that will continue to grow.