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Cut: "We're back to work focusing on Duke"

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe met the media this week for the ACC head coaches' teleconference in which he spoke about his team moving past the Notre Dame game and focusing on Virginia.

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: We have really tried to get back to work this week, focusing on Duke. Certainly well aware of Virginia, well aware of what we have to do to contend with them, but we've still got so many things we've got to do and continue to try to do better. We're certainly a work in progress. 

If we watch this week, it's a very energized Virginia team, a team that plays really hard. It does not surprise me. Coach Mendenhall be a future Hall of Fame coach, College Football Hall of Fame coach, so huge challenge to get back into ACC play, and I'll take your questions. 

Q. Bronco shared with us that he came to visit your program in either the spring or summer when he was at BYU, not so much for Xs and Os but to talk about organization and how you kind of exist within the University. What do you remember about that visit and those discussions? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, we are like-minded people. We both are on the board of trustees of the American Football Coaches' Association. We sit together. We talked about a lot of things, but we talked about the integrity of a program and the discipline and the day-to- day operation, and I learned a lot by listening to him. But it was a great, great visit, and I also know that it reinforced at the time, because I got to spend some good quality team with Coach Mendenhall, it reinforced to me how good a person he is. He's a very impressive person. 

Q. When you see what he's doing at Virginia, and I understand they're only a few games into it, what do you see in terms of the direction, and how far along do you think he is in kind of getting his team to play his way? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I think that they're starting to schematically get comfortable, which takes a while. Offensively you saw the production. Defensively you see it grow right in front of your eyes. The kicking game at the present shows him and his staff. I've watched a lot of BYU tape throughout the year. Certainly got back and looked at some of it this week. But the other thing I think that you can see his hand print is how hard they're playing, how energized they're playing, and playing really well together. This is a Virginia team that's just getting itself going, and it was pretty obvious they beat an undefeated Central Michigan and a team that's really a good football team. 

Q. Going back to Coach Mendenhall, I know last week that Kurt Benkert, the quarterback, suffered a major injury last season while part of the East Carolina program, and he had his breakout game last week, passing for around 421 yards. I think 421 to be exact. I know you mentioned that you went back to look at game film from Coach Mendenhall's BYU programs; how far did you go back, and are you concerned that he might be showing sets or might show some sets that he hasn't done so far this year on his offense?

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I think they're doing for the most part, all of us, what we believe in and what we're going to do. You're not going to change drastically in a week's time, but they, within formations, within the circumstances, they're growing in all three phases. Certainly offensively this is a quarterback that came in in the summer who's getting more and more comfortable with a brand-new offense, a brand-new group of receivers, running backs, et cetera, so they're going to do nothing but continue to get better. It's very obvious when you watch the tape. They're very capable. 

And one of the things that stands out is they have so many different weapons, and they just really are schematically good. They know how to cause you problems, and so you just prepare for all the things you think you can see. You can't prepare for everything when you're playing a very multiple offensive team. But we've just got to be sound. We've got to be solid, and you'd better tackle well. 

A year ago against this team, we had a difficult time tackling them, and they had over 500 yards of offense against us a year ago. We know how well we're going to have to play to slow them down. 

Q. Research has shown that some athletes tend to suffer from depression after experiencing major injuries. As far as counseling, what is in place at Duke to assist these student-athletes that suffer from major injuries or even challenges on and off the field that they may be facing? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Sure, it's certainly a big part of all that you're looking for as a coach in running a program.  You have your medical people here. I very much depend on Hap Zarzour, our head medical trainer. He's got a large staff. He is treating people with injuries. He is very professional. We certainly hope that we recognize early signs of anybody in depression. 

So we have Duke University counseling, we have Duke Hospital that we have used. We do have sports psychologists within our athletics department. So you've got to have a lot of stopgaps in place. These are young men and women, of course, here that are high-strung, high-performing people, and it doesn't sometimes even take an injury. When it doesn't go as well as they hope, when the pressures of school pile up. What you're describing is a problem with all young people, and particularly college-aged young people. We have to and are required, all of us, to look for that, and we even talk to our players about how to recognize and who to -- come tell us if they know a young person is having a problem. 

That's part of the -- I don't know if you've ever heard of the Jason Foundation -- Jason Flatt was a young man in high school that committed suicide, and so the foundation, his dad has done a great job of teaching teens and college students how to recognize that and how to report it. So we also talk to our team in the off- season about that very thing. I think it's critically important, and everyone needs to pay attention to that. We're dealing with young people in their lives more than we are anything else that we do. 

Q. If I heard you correctly on Sunday, I believe you said Jonathan Lloyd may have been banged up in the pregame at Notre Dame, and I was wondering if you could tell me what happened there and kind of what is his status now? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: He was able to play some, just a hamstring tightening. He was able to practice yesterday and today, so I feel good about where he is. Just scared him, shocked him, in the midst of running a route, and things like that can happen. It happened to Jamison Crowder when he was a junior just in pregame warmup. 

Always a concern with that, but I think he's going to be fine. 

Q. So a non-contact pregame situation? 

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Correct. We're not going to -- unless they run into each other by accident, we're not going to have contact in pregame warmup. 

Q. You mentioned Kurt Benkert from Virginia, and you can see on film the more familiar he's getting with Virginia's offense and obviously it led to last week's game. Obviously your quarterback is coming off probably his best game and a guy that's getting a feel as a first-time starter. Where are you with his progression and where is his feel for the offense right now?

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, he has gotten better every week. Experience is the best teacher. Quarterbacks learn better 11-on-11 playing than any other drill, anything else you can do. People run around all over the country playing 7-on-7, and that's not the best way to teach a quarterback how to play. You don't get to do as much of it as you used to when you're talking about 11-on-11 scrimmaging in the spring and even certainly in the fall. So these games are critical to these quarterbacks, all of them, and particularly if you're a young one. 

So each week is a new challenge. I love that he's one of those young people that he likes challenges, and he focuses and works really well, so we hope that is a continued work in progress. 

Q. How has that made you maybe more comfortable with opening things up more for him with each game, maybe allowing you to do some more things that you didn't do early on?

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, no question, it changes. It's going to change every week. It's going to be different.

I had Peyton Manning as a true freshman, and we were very restrictive early, often against what he wanted to do. But you're just not going to overload those guys in the first game or the first two or three games, and as it goes forward, they should get better if you kind of keep the pace moving in the right direction. 

He's eager. He's hungry. He worked really, really hard at this, so he's certainly got a chance. 

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