The Atlantic Coast Conference held its first day of their ACC Kickoff in Charlotte on Thursday with players and coaches in attendance from the Coastal Division. The biggest news conference wide was the announcement from Commissioner John Swofford about the ACC and ESPN partnering for a long awaited ACC Network. Below are quotes from Duke’s player representatives, Thomas Sirk and DeVon Edwards on the upcoming season and a quote from Head Coach David Cutcliffe on the impact of a bowl win on the football program.
QB Thomas Sirk
Q - What is your biggest key on offense for another bowl run and to finish the year with another trophy?
“I think that scoring, we left a lot of opportunities on the field last year where we came away with three points instead of seven. I think that turning those field goals into touchdowns is something that we can get better on in the red zone. Last year looking at the Northwestern game, and there were several opportunities that we had to score last year that we didn’t take advantage of it, and we walk away with a field goal. Field goals are great and they help win football games, but we want seven points from every drive.”
Q - What weapons do you see from Boehme, Daniel Jones and Quentin Harris that they bring that will help Duke?
“I think all of those guys are very intelligent players. They know the ins and outs of the offense. Even those young guys, Daniel and Quentin are younger. They still put in the time and effort to learn the offense. We can see it translating from the meeting room to the field. We have an understanding of what our coach wants from us, what plays are working and what aren’t. I think that if you asked any of our guys to go and script a practice, they could go do it. I think that says a lot about our program and the time that they put in outside of the practice field.”
CB DeVon Edwards
Q - How do you see the front 6 shaping up?
“I see them shaping up pretty good. We brought in a great coach, Coach (Ben) Albert. He’s changed the game up there. I really like him, I really like him a lot. He’s getting those guys geared up. He’s not afraid to tell you when you’re not getting dirty or trying hard. He will expose you when he has an option or has a chance. He’s a guy who is going to change the mindset up front. That’s going to have an impact on the young guys, getting them geared up and ready to go fast.”
Q - How do you see the young linebackers progressing and how are they key to the development of the defense?
“They’re progressing very well. Ben (Humphreys) has had a big role, so he knows what he’s going to get and he’s continuing to grow. Zavier (Carmichael) is doing really well. He’s staying healthy and he’s going to have a big impact. He’s a good guy also and he played a lot his freshman year. Tinashe (Bere) is moving better. We know we can trust him on the inside. He fills a gap no matter who is going to be there. Joe (Giles-Harris) moves around pretty good too, so he can get out there and cover the flats pretty well. He’s gifted. So we have a lot of guys that are fitting into that linebacker role. You can see them grow and they are going to continue to get better each and every day. Coach Knowles is coaching our linebackers and he’s our defensive coordinator. He knows what to expect. He’s on them the hardest out of everyone on the defense I think.”
Q - Who is the hardest hitter in the secondary among the Cheetahs?
“I would have to go with Deondre Singleton and his backup Jordan Hayes. So when Deondre is not in there you're still going to have a hard hitter at that position. Both of them come downhill pretty hard throwing their bodies in where ever is needed.”
Q - What is your defensive key to go to another bowl game and to finish with another trophy?
“We need to create a lot of turnovers and we need to get stops. That’s the main thing. We need to keep guys from scoring a lot of points on us. We need to keep that to a minimum as possible. And just having fun out there and competing. If you’re doing your best and you’re doing what you’re supposed to do I’m pretty sure it will work out fine.”
Q - Is anyone sticking out on the defensive line that might be a fresh face to the Duke faithful?
“We’ve got A. J. (Wolf), Mike (Ramsey), and Brandon Boyce that I’m pretty sure a lot of guys have seen that they can make an impact in a game. I see some young guys in there, where we brought in three defensive ends. They are working pretty hard. I can go in the Yoh late at night to do some stuff and I can see them in there working on their technique, looking at things that Coach Albert told them to work on. You can sorta see that they’re hungry. They know that they have an opportunity to play and they are trying to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Head Coach David Cutcliffe
Q - How has winning the bowl game affected the program overall from University, to players, coaches, etcetera?
“I think three big aspects. One is recruiting again. People love a winner, regardless of circumstance, that’s lasting. A lot of people watch and love those close games, which it was and it was televised at a perfect time. So it impacts recruiting. I think it continues to impact our university, where for the most part football was a little dormant. And so, there are people that because you’ve won a bowl game raise their head up and pay a little more attention. That helps a great deal in that regard. And the third aspect is your own squad. That’s kind of a monkey off your back. I’m not sure that we didn’t play better in the three losses than we did the win. So that’s kind of a bonus for a coach. “Ok we won, but let me tell you, this is unacceptable this is unacceptable’ - so there’s value in it for your players.”