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Cutcliffe Says Team Is Comfortable On The Road

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe met the media for the Weekly ACC Teleconference and spoke on a number of topics including Jeremy Cash's statistical success, the game against Virginia Tech, and why his Blue Devils are comfortable playing on the road.

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Briefly, coming off an open date that I thought we used well, a combination of getting ourselves better and getting a few people a little less bruised up, so we're in solid health in that regard going to play not only a team but a program that we have the ultimate respect for and one of the more difficult places to go and play in this country. We're going to have to be as good as we can possibly be to have a chance to be successful in Blacksburg. 

With that, I'll take your questions. 

Q. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about Coach (Jim) Knowles, your defensive coordinator, what kind of a job has he done with that unit this year? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, Jim Knowles has done a great job. Jim was with us at Ole Miss. I got him back here to Duke, which we were thrilled with. I think we've become very systematic on defense. He's had enough time now to get his system in, players that fit the system, and Jim is a high-energy guy that does a great job on the practice field, great job in his preparation and planning, but a great job on the practice field, and it's paying dividends. And so we're real fortunate to have a guy of his ability on our staff. 

Q. Obviously as the head coach you're responsible for everything, but take me inside Duke practice; does he have some kind of autonomy in running the defense? Are you more with the offense? Or is that not a good characterization? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: No, I try to give our coaches autonomy, period. We do a lot of work together in here, a lot of planning and a lot of work and a lot of communication, but I want to be involved with all of it as the head coach, offense, defense and kicking. On that practice field I let our coaches coach. 

We've been together a long time, so they know what the expectations are, and I think as I've said earlier, he is just an outstanding coach on the field. 

Q. How does Jeremy Cash fit into Coach Knowles' defense? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, it's good as good as it can get. Jeremy has a lot of freedom. We use him in a lot of different places in a lot of different ways. He's a great football player, loves to compete, is just a tremendous competitor, and Jim is a smart guy, and he understands players make plays, and so I think he does a great job of putting Jeremy in position to have that opportunity. 

Q. What impresses you so far from the game film video on what Virginia Tech's defense, in particular defensive back Chuck Clark and linebacker Deon Clarke? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, they are all talented players. Both of those guys play vital roles, and if you're not an athlete, you can't play in Coach (Bud) Foster's system. You have to be physical. You have to know how to fit runs. You have to be able to fit runs and still be in man-to-man coverage, which is difficult to teach, and they do it better than anybody in the country, and just across the board, you're not going to find a more aggressive, well-coached defense anywhere. They have players up front. They have players at linebacker, and they have players in the secondary, and I'm going to tell you, their secondary is just like they cloned them. These are guys that can cover. They're big, they're physical, they can run. It's impressive to watch them. 

Q. Also with the return of Michael Brewer at quarterback, is your approach any different, approaching this game from a defensive standpoint? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: No, not really, because you expect both of them to play, which they did last week against Miami, and they opened the season with two healthy guys, and they played both. Michael Brewer, we've obviously seen him before. We know he's an outstanding thrower, but he can run the ball, as well. He's got a quick release, and you've just got to compete and we've just got to stop explosive plays. Whichever quarterback it comes from, it doesn't matter. They've got weapons. They've got more weapons in my opinion than they've had in recent times. I see those guys playing at a high level. 

Q. I wanted to ask you about your road record. You've won 11 of the last 12 on the road, which is kind of unusual. You've had more success on the road than at home in the last two years. Is there any reason for that? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: You know, I don't know of one. I've always liked going on the road in college football. I think it's-- there is an environment of it's a business trip, and you're really confined more than maybe you are at home. The guys stay in the hotel both places, but it's just a little different atmosphere. This one is a bus ride, and you kind of get time together to -- whether it's a plane or a bus to get your mind on your business, go to the hotel, we have a routine that we go through. We don't go to a stadium ever and work out. 

I just think our guys are comfortable with our routine. I think our coaches and all of our staff people that organize those road trips put our guys in a good place, and I hope that's the case because then we can hopefully keep having success on the road, but I don't have any magic formula or anything I know of specifically. 

Q. Mike announced before when he introduced you about Jeremy Cash being fifth in the nation in tackles for loss. He also told me that Jeremy is the only defensive back that's in the top 50 in that category. How unique is that for a guy? I know he plays a lot of positions but is basically a safety, to be doing what he's doing. 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, that's pretty special. I just -- I don't see anybody being more productive defensively as an individual than he is. He is such a dynamic leader on the field, a dynamic leader off the field. You know how I feel about him. He does it in school. He does it as a captain. He does it on the practice field, and he does it on the game field. 

Sometimes I have to slow him down. You know, he was on fire yesterday and today on the practice field. It's fun to watch, but sometimes you almost have to say, whoa. You love players like that. 


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