The stakes are high for this weekends Duke at UNC match up in that it's a Coastal Division game and the ACC opener for both teams. David Cutcliffe certainly knows of the challenge ahead for his 3-0 Blue Devils. The last time Duke played in Kenan Stadium the Tar Heels hung 66 point on his team. But this years Blue Devils are a different bunch and are currently a slight favorite heading into the game.
"Early in the year we focus on our self, " said Cutcliffe to open today's press conference. What he means by that is performing well is just as important as being prepared. And Duke needs to show well on the field for all the preparation in the world will not help if you do not perform well.
Cutcliffe stated, "Let's face it. It's Duke-North Carolina. That carries weight. That is going to carry weight for a year. There is a bell that says it does." He knows this is a big game and is not shying away from that fact despite the game being played earlier than any time in history.
What the media did not ask today is how good it would feel for Cutcliffe to win his 100th game this week. Well, perhaps it is for the best that fact is being overlooked. But you can bet his team is well aware that the outcome would give their head man a milestone win.
Cutcliffe also spoke to the fact that he heard a lot about the rivalry when he arrived. But it was later he learned that he could actually be razzed by opposing fans. 'I get it. I call it the grocery store rivalry. When I am in the grocery store I am going to see a lot of Carolina folks. Some times they are nice which is most of the time and some times they are not. As I said, the game lasts a year."
Duke will be facing a Tar Heel team that runs quick offensive sets. "With North Carolina, you are defending some outstanding weapons. They have the ability to run the ball or throw it, their RPO game is as good as it is in the country." said Cutcliffe.
The Blue Devils had their scout team run quick plays against the defense and they also get reps against the first team this week. While you cannot simulate the speed in which the Tar Heels run plays, Duke will at least somewhat know what to expect.
Cutcliffe did not elaborate on injuries but did say some players were playing with issues which may be the case the entire season. Duke has been fortunate to date not to suffer too many injuries.
The Duke at North Carolina games will kickoff at 3:30 this Saturday in Kenan Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPNU.