Quotables: David Cutcliffe

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke head coach David Cutcliffe met with the media to discuss the upcoming game against NC State.

Opening statement about coaching situation at Tennessee:
"I am just going to mention about the Tennessee thing. We sent a release out and that's a very difficult thing for all of us who know and love Phillip [Fulmer]. Just to put an end to any speculation, I'm at Duke, staying at Duke and that's not even a thought process so for your benefit we don't have to take any questions and can put that to rest. Phillip is the best recruiter, most detailed coach, had the greatest work ethic, and the most energy of any coach I've worked with bar none. A special guy in the business."

Opening statement about upcoming game against N.C. State:
"They are good and that's not coach talk. First of all you know that Tom O'Brien is going to put a good product on the field. I know how good he is. I've known him since the days he was an assistant for George Welch and I was an assistant for Johnny Majors. We've visited together and spent time together and I have great respect for Coach O'Brien.

"I've never coached against N.C. State. My first awareness of N.C. State football came in I believe it was October of 1964 and I'm listening to a transistor radio and Alabama is playing N.C. State and my hero Joe Namath was hurt in that game and I was mad at N.C. State. I've gotten over it since, but I do remember that well and oddly enough two years later when my brother was a defensive lineman at the University of Florida they played N.C. State in Gainesville. I remember him talking about that game, and oddly enough a lot of years later we are getting ready to play an N.C. State team."

On feelings following the Wake Forest game:
"We were frustrated and truly dejected I guess after our last ball game at Wake Forest, feeling like you played well enough to win in most areas and then you make some critical errors. The game is about critical errors oftentimes and we're not a team that can afford to make critical errors. It's about your preparation. You can't guarantee that you're not going to make mistakes. Let's face it, it happens. You do try to practice at such a premium. Every time you kick a ball, or throw a ball, or catch a ball, catch a punt, catch a kickoff you do it with the same intensity that you do it in a game. That's what I told these young men. You do that and you do that regularly. Unfortunately we've got to continue to try to do that better, but we win and lose as a team and it was a good moment in that locker room in actuality because of what the mental makeup was at that time. We've played eight quarters as hard as we can play. I was upset after the prior game, the Miami game, because we didn't believe we could win in the fourth quarter. Now we're faced with another big challenge in N.C. State and a team in my opinion that is more talented than the last two teams we've played. They've had a really tough schedule and some tough breaks with injuries and other circumstances. We have our hands full and it should be a great crowd. It's a rival game that hasn't been played in quite some time. I'm looking forward to the pageantry and atmosphere on Saturday."

On special teams against Wake Forest:
"It was strange. We played good all year long as you know on special teams and against Vanderbilt, we played our best game in that regard. I don't know that one mistake didn't lead to another a little bit. When you open the game with a fumbled return I don't know if our confidence was waning. We certainly didn't cover kickoffs as well. We had to adjust our kickoff unit, which has been really good and the adjustments didn't play out as well as we would like. Our technique was bad and that's my responsibility. We just didn't get under the punt, we muffed it. Little things like that and you got to take a closer look at how you're teaching. I think it's not something we're going to see a consistent level of play drop. Hopefully it's one time event and it just all happened to us at one time. Missing the kick, Nick makes 10-of-10 of those in practice now most of the time. I thought he just hurried himself and hopefully he'll get that opportunity again."

On onside kick against Wake Forest:
"You don't win games on Sunday in turning in reports on officials and I don't even like to do that. It was a judgment call and the official did a great job of telling me on the sideline that he thought that the Wake Forest player had a chance to catch the ball if we had not been there. The official who made that call is a really good official, a very conscientious and thorough official. My philosophy has always been on judgment calls that some go your way some don't, they even out. It obviously hurt. I probably shouldn't have put us in that position, but I was 100 percent convinced we would get it based on what I had seen on film. The youngster from Wake Forest, give him credit, he was alert and broke to the ball which caused it to where it was a judgment call. He had been ducking his head and taking off early and the guy must have been corrected by a coach. It was a risk I took and occasionally I like to take calculated risks. I rather take a risk than dig a fox hole and so that's kind of where we were. We had just taken a lead and I felt we really had the chance to drive a point home and it just didn't work. The defense did a great job holding them to a field goal though."

On concern from current players about Tennessee situation:
"I didn't give them long enough. I addressed it really quickly and told them the fact. Certainly prospects are being hit and I tried to call as many of them as I can call just to try to settle it down. It will settle down quickly, but if I'm recruiting against us I'm going to use it too."

On Brett Huffman's play last week:
"He's practiced so much better. He's obviously to a point now that he's one of our weapons we can count on and he proved us right. He's a guy we want people to have to reckon with. We've had an issue what with Brandon [King] being out and Tielor's [Robinson] been hurt and banged up all season. He's stepped up and he's a much improved player than when he started."

On the effect of losing and playing a good team in N.C. State:
"That goes through your mind because they're good, but when you compete so hard you can't worry about what your opponent and what they're going to do. You anticipate them playing their best game and what you have to do as a competitor is believe you can do your best. If your best is good enough you win, if it's not you hang your stuff back up, shower and go lay down and rest a little bit. I try not to pay that much attention to the score. I try not to let that prejudice me on what I think we're doing on the field as I look at how we're competing and playing."

On defensive back/secondary play this season:
"Glenn Williams, for example, he's kind of been the leader there. Some guys who it was really important to them and they were getting better and understanding the schemes. Jim Collins does a great job with the linebackers, Marion Hobby does a great job with our front. They're very comfortable coaching four and three people, respectively, but in the secondary every time something happens it's pretty critical and that's why we have both Mike MacIntyre and Derek Jones both working in the secondary. Two really great coaches. It was taking those guys a little while to really understand what we expected from them. They just started catching on as the year went on. When you make a mistake in the secondary it usually results in points and that's why my theory is to have two guys back there and those guys get a lot of individual attention."

On loss of Leon Wright due to injury:
"I didn't feel great about it, but I felt okay. Leon is a phenomenal competitor and one of our best one-on-one cover guys. You can just see the consistency of our guys continuing to get better, including Lee Butler, but Glenn gives us that ace in the hole. He can play corner, he can play safety. Adrian Aye-Darko has played just phenomenal as a fifth-year senior. He's given us depth and play that we thought we might not get there. And I can't say enough about Chris [Rwabukamba]. The play he made on fourth down and six and he knocked the ball down twice, that's one of the best plays I've seen a defensive back make."

On limiting N.C. State quarterback:
"He's very athletic, we all know that. He can run, he's got a great quick release. He's a guy we have to try to contain in the pocket. He's 5-11, he's not 6-5 so that's a reality, but he's so good and so athletic and so poised. Watching his interviews and seeing him, he's a very impressive young man. I admire what he's done to this point of the season, he's a good player."

On in-state rivalry games:
"It's something we talk about and certainly before the Wake Forest game. I know they're talking about it over there too. It's a pretty big deal. We all have to live with each other. It's something I kind of got used to being two hours from Mississippi State at Ole Miss and had to live with that year round. Eight miles, 20 miles and an hour and ten minutes away you get hammered and I got to go out and speak at all these places in the off season so it's certainly something to think about."

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