Obviously we’re playing a very good football team this week –defending Coastal Division champions, ranked in the top 25, 4-0 [record] with a 12-game winning streak. It’s a great challenge for us on offense. [Anthony] Boone is an excellent quarterback, both running and passing. Similar to what we saw last week, three running backs that make big plays. With [Max] McCaffrey and [Jamison] Crowder, obviously Crowder has been the go-to –guy. McCaffrey is having a great year as well. Big, strong, physical offensive line. Veterans. Seven returning starters on offense, [including] six seniors, six juniors on offense. Five returning starts on defense. 11 seniors or juniors on defense. Great challenge for us, great kicking game. Excellent specialists.
On how they responded from Nebraska:
They’ve been great. Part of that, there were a lot of individual performances. It’s not going to satisfy the fact we lost, and it’s not going to make it easier, but the individual growth of a lot of guys. Take [Michael] Badgley, for instance. There’s a guy who has hardly kicked – he goes to Lincoln and makes a big one when we need it. Clive Walford – there’s a situation where a senior who just went and played hard every play and had one of his most productive days. Brad Kaaya – how he played - Darrion Owens played really well. There are a lot of things we need to fix. Those guys that had an opportunity to grow, we need to keep bringing them along. Those that we need to improve, and those systems and schemes we need to improve, that’s what we’re focused on. There’s a lot of work [to be done]. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves.
On what he tells the team about last year’s game:
If I have to tell them something then, I’m going to always have to tell them something. I don’t really get involved in that. I will answer your question this way - there were a lot of people who watched the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and said, ‘Wait a minute, they’re doing it versus Texas A&M.’ That has nothing to do with the Miami Hurricanes – the Miami Hurricanes have to take care of what the Miami Hurricanes have to do. We have ot play better on defense – based both on last week and last year against this team – in order to be successful. Duke has made a lot of progress. They’re the champions right now in our division, and that’s the way it stands. Period.
On Duke’s program:
I think they’re improving. It’s not for me to judge what they’re doing, how they recruit or how they select what their system is. Obviously the results are that they’re improving. Coach Cutcliffe has made a commitment to Duke, and obviously they’ve grown here. This is his eighth or ninth year. They’ve grown a lot. They’ve really improved.
On the pass rush:
Pass-rush helps a ton. Obviously last week we were playing an option team. It would have been great to get there a couple of times. On Tracy [Howard]’s interception, Thurston [Armbrister] hit him, I think, or at least hurried him. I don’t think there’s any question it’s going to help on the back end. As it relates to Duke, we’re going to have to get more negatives - both sacks and TFL’s - to keep him off balance and behind the sticks.