ACCDN

Coach Cutcliffe Teleconference Quotes

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe met the media on the Weekly ACC Head Coaches' Teleconference on Wednesday afternoon. Here's what he had to say about his team's progress and opening up ACC play so early.

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: All right, I think it's awesome to be jumping right into conference play. I think that changes everything, gets your team's attention. It's what's your season, in a large part, is always going to be about in your conference schedule. So also a rival game where we're playing a very veteran Wake Forest team, very experienced football team and they've done an outstanding job over there coaching and recruiting, so this will be a big test for us. 

Q. Coach, I was listening to your press conference from yesterday, and you talked about how both teams are really learning each other early in the season. I was wondering how much that's complicated in your instance with a turnover in your staff? Because if I'm not mistaken, you've had pretty good staff stability there, David? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, this is probably the most change. I've called it the year of new. We've got a new defensive line coach, a new tight end coach, a new offensive coordinator, a new special teams coordinator, a new offensive line coach, a red-shirt freshman new quarterback, et cetera. So it's an interesting time for us. We've had a lot of stability here. Change is good when you have guys like Scottie Montgomery getting head jobs. These guys have been awesome, the additions. 

But it's a process, and it's a daily process. And our football team, to be honest with you right now, is a day- to-day process. We're just trying to get better. 

Q. Coach, assessing Daniel Jones in that first week at quarterback for you, just what you can say coming off of that?

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: He's a physically gifted young man. I thought he threw the ball really well. He ran the ball well. He ran our team well. He was -- we didn't ask him to do a lot. He was very-well prepared by Zac Roper, our quarterback coach, offensive coordinator. And I think it's going to continue in that mode. I think he'll play well, but he's going to have some growing pains. Red-shirt freshman always do. 

But very pleased with his work ethic and his attention to detail is really, really good. And if he will continue that, he's got a chance of being a really good player. 

Q. As far as, obviously, Parker Boehme got some time out there as well. Do you envision finding places for Parker as you go forward as well?

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, we've always kind of had packages for guys in situation football. And Parker really does fit that mode. He's done some of that anyway for us in the past. So he's a good player. 

We have a starter and we've got a back-up. It's not like we're still trying to figure that out. But I can promise you Parker is a guy that I trust in the game, and particularly in somewhat would be critical situations. 

Q. Given your defense, playing North Carolina Central the first game, what did it tell you?

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: I thought we played much better, more aggressive on defense, a defensive front, we played a lot of people. Our linebackers were decisive, which is something you can tell. Then our secondary, which is very experienced not surprisingly did play well. Are we going to be tested each week more? Absolutely, and we realize that. 

I thought they practiced well yesterday and this morning. We're a morning practice team, but I thought it was spirited, and they understand there's a lot of getting better to do. We're playing a much more talented offensive team, particularly when you just look at all the returning starters that Wake has. Their entire offensive line, I think it's like 10 of 11 starters in all. 

Q. You just mentioned that you played a lot of people on the defensive front. Is that something you think we'll continue to see throughout the season? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Absolutely. I believe that. It's something that Coach Albert and I have talked extensively about. If guys earn playing time, they're going to be on the field. The key for them is to earn it. Keeping the defensive linemen fresh and rotating is really a good advantage, not just early in the year, but even later in the year. So I think you'll see a lot of people out there for us again this week. 

Q. Do you feel more confident about your inner guys because they have a little more experience? Obviously A.J. Wolf is an outstanding player, then the young guys you have at the ends, even the older guys at the ends have not played a whole lot. 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, we're much more experienced inside. You've got guys, as you mentioned, like Dom McDonald that he hasn't played that much football at this point. He's a fourth year player. Marquies Price is probably the most experienced who started last year as a true freshman. You've got to remember, he's still just a sophomore. So it's an interesting dynamic. 

I think we're going to get better as the year goes on, and we'll have to get better as it goes. I think we're a work in progress to some degree in the defensive front. 

Q. Your two back-ups have ten or 11 career starts between them. These guys come in with no career starts. Can you talk about why you're going with the younger, less-experienced guys at linebacker? DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, Ben started some at the end of last year, Ben Humphreys. He's a little more experienced than Joe. Joe red-shirted a year ago. It's a competitive situation. They're going to continue to have people competing with them. But they won the jobs in camp, just out and out performance, production, and that's what you're looking for particularly in a position like linebacker. They can't just know what to do. They've got to show us they can produce numbers and Ben and Joe certainly can do that. 

Q. It seems as if or feels as if the quarterback play in the ACC might be the best, if not among the best in the entire country, especially among the top- level talent. I'm wondering whether you notice that and why you think it might be that the quarterbacks are better this year maybe than over the last couple of years. 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, we've got some people back with experience, obviously. Some of the more highly rated guys in the country and certainly at Clemson, Miami, et cetera, and the youngster at Florida State had a terrific ballgame. And you know the quality and talent of Jackson up at Louisville. I watched a lot of his tape through the summer, and good, gosh, is he talented. So just a little bit everywhere. 

I think the league is better than people think. I think you've got a bunch of really good recruiting coaches in this league, and you're seeing ACC football being played at a higher level than people give it credit for. Everybody always wants to just point it at these pre- season matches. But if you look at our non-conference record over the last few years, it's far better than people think. So I think part of the quarterback thing is just a product of better football players. 

I think we've got better defensive linemen than we had when we came into the league, and et cetera, et cetera, and I think it's just an upswing in ACC football. 

Q. Do you think that impacts kids during recruiting who now see a better product on the field and say, okay, I can pick an ACC school and I can be in a place where we can play in big games and win big games? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Absolutely. I mean, you go back to Jameis Winston, that guy got a little attention as an ACC quarterback. Deshaun Watson is the most talked about college player returning. It's just a good time to be in the ACC if you like to compete. I like where I see the league and where the league's going. 


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