Cutcliffe Teleconference – Tauiliili, Lewis, Virginia Tech, UNC and more

[private]Opening statement –  We’ve been in the training room before going out on the practice field.  We were a beat up team going into Blacksburg and a beat up team coming out, but not emotionally.  I’ve never been around a more unselfish team or a team that plays any harder than this team does.  There is no finger pointing – 100% together.  I’m very saddened that our seniors qwon’t get to experience a bowl game and they have one game left to play which is a big one with rival North Carolina.  We’re going to pick up the pieces after a hard fought and difficult game against Virginia Tech.

On Michael Tauliliili – He’s the best defensive football player in the ACC.  He continues to play at a high level every single snap.  He’s a great leader off the field.  His recovers fumbles, causes fumbles, makes plays nobody else can make.  He’s all over the field.  I feel he should be the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

On Zack Asack – Obviously, his confidence is not good right now throwing the football.  He hasn’t had a lot of success and didn’t throw the ball well against Virginia Tech.  He has a lot of work to do, but he is capable.  We’ve got to help him a little bit more and he will continue to work and we will continue to evaluate Thad as the week goes on.  Zack was effective in our triple option offense.  We had tons of opportunities to make big plays but we didn’t take advantage of it.  I know I can count on Zack to come to work.

On Thad’s chances to play vs UNC – I’m very hopeful.  He continues to get treatments.  In fact we were here at 2:00 in the morning after the game administering treatment to a lot of players.  Thad was in here earlyy this morning – so a lot of work going on in that regard.

On his teams defensive effort and physical play against a team that’s had their way in the past – We did a great job.  We thought we had a great match up.  We tackled well, we were very aggressive in coverage.  We pretty much put a lot of people in the box to slow down their running game.  We shortened the game which was the plan and going late into the fourth quarter we had a chance to win the game.

We had five take aways and that was huge, we were solid in the kicking game.  Offensively, I could not believe how many missed opportunities we had looking at the tape this morning.  Whether we called the wrong play or a snap issue or a penalty … just unnecessary things.  We won the field position game and became a more physical team on both sides of the ball.  We not only want that  momentum to carry into the Carolina game, I want that to carry into Duke Football.

Our physicality is going to change as a team.  We were in the weight room on Sunday.  Coaches know that Duke will be physical and how we played in the past … those days are gone.  I talked to Coach Beamer about that before the ball game and he said that they could see the difference on tape and were shocked.

These seniors are leaving the program better than they found it.   A lot more has gone on than the play on the field.[/private]