David Cutcliffe, Duke head coach
Opening Statement: “The biggest thing about the game this week is that it’s a conference game. Opening up conference play in week two, and to a team that we played at the end of last year, make an unusual circumstance. Duke and Wake Forest is a great natural rivalry.
“Wake had a nice win last week. It’s difficult to play an opponent that has a new staff. As you’re looking at film from last season, you’re not sure what you’ll see in terms of defense, offense and kicking. As you’re looking at last year’s tape of Tulane, you’re studying last year’s plays and you’re unsure if those players will be going in the same positions and taking the same routes. I thought Wake Forest did a great job of playing that game.
“Wake Forest plays exceptionally well on defense and does an outstanding job in every aspect of defense. Offensively, they put together a nice drive and did what had to be done to win the game. They have really good skill on the perimeter. They have two more than capable quarterbacks. I don’t know what they will do with them Saturday. They have an outstanding offensive line. It is a very veteran line and returns all its starters from last year. This is not the same Wake Forest team. They are developing a program. Dave Clawson has done a great job doing that.
“We’re looking at Wake Forest, but we’re in the second week so we’re looking at Duke and what we have to do to become better. We’re going to double dip that. I’m putting more emphasis on what we have to do to get better at Duke than whatever we concern ourselves with for any opponent at this point of the year.”
What is your focus for this weekend?
“Consistency is the biggest thing. I’m not just evaluating the N.C. Central game. Obviously there was a tale of two halves there. In the first half we did a lot of things really, really well. Consistency is not just what you see in the result, but rather 11 people doing the right thing on every snap defensively, offensively and the same with the kicking game. I’m not saying there were three good plays and then a bad play, two good plays and then three bad plays. I’m talking about a series of plays that may have gained 10 yards; we are evaluating the consistency of our team. The way you end up being an exceptional team is when you are one heartbeat, so to speak, with 11 people. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve seen. I’ve seen part of the tape, and there were some great lessons in the tape. We’re already just for having played a game.”
What is the focus to hold on to the football and not fumble this week?
“I’m not going to over exaggerate things. I’m a little disappointed in the muffed punt catch. That is a focus. That was being a little late moving to where we needed to be to get position. The emphasis, and I was back there with them today, was on technique. We were working three people back there for punt returns with Ryan Smith, Shaun Wilson and T.J. Rahming. All three are more than capable as punt catchers, and more than capable returners. But the first thing is being a great punt catcher. Second, I’m extremely disappointed that Austin Parker failed to focus. He’s young. With Ryan, dropping one of those in a lifetime is one too many. That’s what I told him. Every punt snap caught is one to win the game.
“With many of the other fumbles, I take full responsibility as a coach for those guys not getting enough reps. You have to make sure that every rep they get is a quality rep. Those are things I need to coach better and have people prepared to do when and if certain things happen in the game.”
You mentioned you wanted to see offensive line backups pushing the starters more. Did you feel like that didn’t happen?
“Different people have different personalities. Personally, if I’m a second-teamer, I’m doing everything in my power to become a first-teamer. I think sometimes we readily accept roles. Our No. 2s get just as many reps as our No. 1s with the ways we practice. Every drill is mirrored and every team snap is mirrored. There’s a point in time where people need to work to get your attention. It’s not just in the offensive line.
“In the old days, you used to have different colored jerseys for first-team offense and first-team defense, and second-team and third-team. There were colors everywhere. We don’t have as many players as in those days. But there was a significant to walk in and see what color jersey hung in your locker. That would get your attention. I don’t understand when you’re not hungry enough to take a job.”
How do you feel about playing an ACC game early in the season?
“I love it. The big games early in the year help you not only in August, but also in June and July. They help you get your feet wet. You learn quickly about intensity. And I’m anxious to see if we practice and play with ACC intensity.”