One on One With Sheldon Bell

Duke wideout Sheldon Bell sat down with TDD on Tuesday afternoon for a one on one interview.

After the game against Virginia, Coach Cutcliffe said that it was a nice to be able to have a victory when the team could do so many things better. What's he looking to improve on this week?

Sheldon Bell: We can definitely get off to a faster start than we did last weekend. We did well in finishing strong and getting the win, but if we start like that and leave points on the field it will come back to haunt us later in the game. We also need to work on finishing out every play - making the blocks, running the routes, - just everything.

How does the team switch gears to a road game after four straight home contests?

It's really going to be a test for us as a team. We'll see a big, hostile crowd for the first time which will really tell us a lot about what kind of team we are at this point in the season.

Has Coach Cutcliffe done anything different in practice?

Nothing too much with how we prepare. We're still watching film, still working the same in practice. The only real difference is that he may be bringing in speakers to pipe in crowd noise so we get used to it before we get on the field.

Earlier this season he called out the receivers for not finishing. What was he looking for?

We need to generate yards after the catch. We need to make that first defender miss us either by breaking the tackle or getting by him. He would rather us have fewer catches for more yards than a lot of catches for a few yards.

Obviously the team is showing a new found confidence. Did it develop from winning or did the winning develop the confidence?

I think it was a little bit of both. In the off-season Coach Cutcliffe stressed to us how important it was to get in shape and he helped us lose all that weight. Doing that helped us start winning and once we got a taste of success we wanted to do whatever it took to continue to get that feeling. It makes you want to do the extra things you need to do to win.

Being in the program for a while now, is there a part of you that's relieved that [the turnaround] is finally seeming to happen?

Absolutely. We feel like we've gotten the monkey off our backs and that takes off some stress and makes it more enjoyable. But we're still learning to take things one game at a time.

What's the major difference inside the program this season compared to last?

We're finishing. There's a real focus on finishing out every play. We finish every practice with conditioning no matter what. Even if it's a walk through we're going to do conditioning. Doing that helps us to get ready to finish the game off in the fourth quarter. It makes us ready to go even when we're tired. We didn't have that in the past.

With Eron Riley getting a lot of defensive attention, how have you guys developed other options in the passing game?

It's important because Eron is getting doubled a lot. We roll a lot of receivers into the first team with Thad so that we have everyone getting the timing down. There's not just a few players getting all the reps - most anyone in the receiving corps can play in the game at any time with the first or second string. Doing that allows us to be sharp when we need someone else to step up.

Over the past few seasons it seemed like Duke was competitive in the first half before losing touch in the third quarter. This season has seen the team out-score the opposition pretty handily in the third quarter. What's changed?

I think it goes back to practice and the emphasis on finishing and being the best conditioned team we can be. When you're tired and hurting, all those sessions help up come through and do the things we need to do to get an edge.

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