Category Archives: Duke Football

Quick hitter #9 LB Michael Tauiliili talks the UVA game

[private]I sat down with Duke Senior leader Michael Tauiliili this afternoon.  Here are his thoughts -

Do you guys talk about as a team that you haven't won an ACC game in your career?

Definitely.  Not because we haven't won one in awhile, but because it's an ACC game.  When you get into the conference everybody has aspirations.  We are all aware that we haven't won an ACC game since we've been here.  Looking back on it, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and we are all working to win our first ACC game.

Is it a mental barrier?

Not at all.  The past is the past and we are all focused mainly on the present and the future.  We have to go one game at a time.  Coach always says we have to prepare for Saturday and this is only Tuesday.  That's what we are worried about, having a great day on Tuesday and then Wednesday and then Thursday.

Has coach said to treat this week like another game?

We are all aware that we haven't won one but he doesn't harp on it, but he has mentioned it.  What he has harped on is that we are in the conference now.

Do you think as a team you can carry over the momentum of starting 2-1 past the bye week?

Definitely.  We've had the taste of success and coach makes sure we know how to deal with that.  We stay hungry and prepare at full speed in practice and not take any plays off.  We are definitely taking that momentum into the ACC.  I think people know that they can't come in here and chalk it up as a "W" anymore and we are going to prepare as hard as any other game.  I just can't wait to go out there at 12:00 on Saturday.  Now, it's full fledged into the game week.

If I might go back to the Navy game ... you guys came out in the second half and dominated.  What was said in the locker room or what do you attribute that to?

It was definitely the coaches.  It's amazing to see how quickly they can make the adjustments on the chalk board.  Basically what was said is this is what they are doing to us and this is what we're going to change.

Last year's team didn't really make good adjustments, but so far this season Duke has outscored each opponent in the second half -

This coaching staff - we've got great guys on the sidelines and up in the booth.  The linebackers are always on the headphones with Coach Collins and we tell each other what we are seeing.  After the game against Navy, Coach Matt pointed out what coaches could see to change and adjust and that we are all in this together.  We are playing and they're making adjustments and making it fit together.[/private]

2009 Verbal Lex Butler talks rehab and Duke Football

[private]Duke recruit Lex Butler suffered a season ending injury before he played in a single game.   The two way star is the brother of Duke freshman Lee Butler and is rated a three star prospect.

"I went to take off on a play and then I pushed off and it popped.  I just felt like something hit me in the heel."  Those are the dreaded words that doctors hear when you have ruptured your Achilles tendon.

"I just sat there for a second because I didn't know what was going on.  I tried to get up and shake it off a little bit and it was like a tingling feeling.  I tried to walk and I couldn't and then I tried to work on what I could wiggling my toes.  My trainer did the calf muscle test and I didn't have any contraction and they knew something was wrong."

Trust me when I say I can relate to young Lex for this author is nine months past the same devastating injury and I am finally getting back to normal.  I know how this injury affected me mentally, so I certainly feel for Butler, who was expected to be the star for Westside HS in Anderson, South Carolina this season.

Young Lex was a bit smarter than me and immediately had surgery.  I encouraged the future Blue Devil to keep his head up for if a middle age guy could bounce back, he certainly would.  I shared tips like putting a chair in the shower and wrapping the cast with a trash bag.  This is just one of the many adjustments one has to make.

Butler is already back to working his upper body with the assistance of his high school trainer and strength coaches.  He is also keeping his sense of humor quipping, "Heck, I thought somebody threw a bowling ball and hit me,"

Lex seemed to appreciate talking to somebody who had the same injury and I told him the magic words, "Don't rush it."  I have heard those words from former Duke Basketball player Roshown McLeod and many others and this injury is a race but one has to look at it as a marathon and not a sprint.

There is no doubt that Butler will be back.  His youth is a benefit in the recovery process for he just turned 17 a week after he went down.  "My doctor says I should be 100% in nine months, so that will be around June," said Butler.

"My Daddy told me like it was, that I wouldn't play high school football this season and that he recommended surgery right away.  I was tough because the whole time I was thinking six to eight weeks."

Butler was worried that Duke might yank his scholarship.  "I knew I had to call Duke and let them know, but my Daddy was kind of shaky about it.  I was telling my Mom if things don't work out I have got plan B and that made her worry a little bit.  She called them for me and told me to call Coach Jones.  I called him and he was like don't worry about it that things happen and just to get healed up."

The young man was even more relieved when Coach Cutcliffe got on the phone.  "He said don't worry about it and that they would take care of me.  He said when I got up there he would make sure I got the right rehab.  I felt a lot better after that and it gave me something to look forward to."

One has to like how Coach Cutcliffe stayed faithful and how the staff let him know that he is a part of the Duke family and that they take care of their own.

"Lee told me he loves it up there.  He said he had put on weight and was up to 180 and I just said, yeah right to him.  He said they were taking care of him feeding him steak and everything."

The two brothers stay in touch and Lee gives his younger brother some tips on what to expect.  "He says practices are real tough."  He was able to go to the home opener against James Madison.  "When I went into the locker room I saw how big the defensive playbook was for one game and Lee said it's all business when you get here."

I'm sure the entire Blue Devil Nation joins me in wishing Lex a speedy recovery and we look forward to one day seeing him competing for a spot in the defensive backfield.[/private]

September 27th is a big day for Duke Football

[private]The Duke Blue Devils have the opportunity to build on their early season success when they host the Virginia Cavaliers on September 27th, at 12 noon, in Wallace Wade stadium. Specifically, the following opportunities exist:

- Duke has dropped eight straight games to Virginia with the last Duke victory being a 24-17 overtime decision on October 9, 1999, in Charlottesville. So the Blue Devils have the opportunity to stop an eight game losing streak to the Cavaliers.

- Duke has not won an ACC game since defeating Clemson, 16 – 13, on November 13, 2004. Since that victory, the Blue Devils have dropped 25 straight conference games. So the Blue Devils have the opportunity to stop a 25 game conference losing streak.

- Finally, Duke has the opportunity to improve their overall record to 3 – 1, which would be the best start to a season since Duke opened the 1994 season 7 – 0.

It is not an exaggeration to state a win over Virginia is critical for Duke’s season. This is an important game for Coach David Cutcliffe in his expedition to change the culture of Duke football in that a win over an ACC opponent will validate the legitimacy of wins over a FCS team and a service academy.

The 1 – 2 Virginia Cavaliers have struggled to put points on the board so far this season. They are averaging 11 points per game, while giving up 32 points per contest. Duke’s defense has held opponents to less than 21 points per game, while the Blue Devil offense has averaged just over 30 points per contest. It is important to note that one of Virginia’s losses came against USC the number one team in the country. A game against USC has the potential to ruin a team’s statistics, just ask Ohio State.

Statistics can be misleading this early in the season with the two teams not having played any common opponents but, a quick look at the teams in the ACC shows Duke ranked second in total offense and passing offense, while Virginia is last in total defense, last in rushing defense, and seventh in passing defense. The Blue Devils are ranked sixth in total defense, while the Cavaliers are last in total offense.

In the area of individual performances, Thaddeus Lewis is leading the ACC in total offense at 273.7 yards per game; Eron Riley is tied for second in receptions per game (6.3) and fourth in receiving yards per game (77.3), and Clifford Harris is tied for fifth in rushing with 67.7 yards per game. On the defensive side of the ball, Michael Tauiliili is tied for second in tackles with 10 per game, while Vincent Rey’s nine per game has him tied for ninth place. Kevin Jones’ 45.7 yards per punt has him in second place in the ACC.

Internet fan sites and message boards are buzzing with discussion of a resurgent Duke football program, and even though Duke has a ton of work and multiple steps ahead of them, a win over Virginia will be a big step toward achieving success. Success breeds success so winning games in 2008 will assist Coach Cutcliffe in recruiting top notch talent to Durham, which will result in more victorious Saturdays in the years ahead.

The next step in the resurgence of Duke football is to snap the 25 game ACC and eight game Virginia losing streaks with a victory over the Cavaliers on September 27th. The game will be telecast on ESPNU.[/private]

Lewis and Rey ACC Players of the Week

[private](From Official Duke University Press Release) DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke's Thaddeus Lewis and Vincent Rey have received ACC Player of the Week honors after leading the Blue Devils to a 41-31 win over Navy this past Saturday, the league office announced on Monday afternoon.
 
Lewis, a junior quarterback from Opa-Locka, Fla., was named the conference's Offensive Back of the Week after completing 25-of-35 pass attempts for 317 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a career-high and team-best 41 yards on 12 attempts.  In addition to extending his school record streak of consecutive pass attempts without an interception to a nation's active best 206 tosses, Lewis and teammate Eron Riley became Duke's top touchdown-producing quarterback-wide receiver tandem with three scores on the day and 17 in their careers together.  Against the Midshipmen, Lewis and Riley hooked up for touchdown passes covering 27, five and 49 yards.
 
Rey, a junior outside linebacker from Far Rockaway, N.Y., was tabbed the league's Defensive Back of the Week following a 12-tackle performance that included four tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble return of 37 yards for a touchdown.  Rey helped the Blue Devil defense hold Navy to just 207 rushing yards -- 245 below their NCAA-leading average of 452 entering the contest.
 
Other weekly award winners included Clemson's Thomas Austin (Offensive Lineman), Virginia Tech's Brett Warren (Defensive Lineman) and Darren Evans (Rookie) and North Carolina's Jay Wooten (Specialist).[/private]

Duke stifles the Middies attack in the 2nd half for a 41-31 win

[private]There is one thing for certain three games into the 2008 Duke Football season, that being Cutcliffe and his staff make masterful adjustments at the half.  The Blue Devils have outscored each opponent after the break,  Today they throttled the Navy offense in the second half by adjusting the Midshipman's crafty running attack.

Take away one big pass play for Navy and Duke would have shut them out.  Still, they outscored them behind the arm of Lewis and the hands of Riley 21-7 to take a 41-31 win. Lewis had a great game going 25 of 35 for 317 yards, three TD's and added another 49 yards on the ground.

Thad was only as good as Eron Riley.  Navy had no answers for the star senior receiver who made 8 catches, all three of the passing TD's, for 137 yards.  When Duke needed a big play, the combination of Lewis to Riley was dependable.  Lewis also found 9 different receivers in the game.

Duke opened the game on a 12 play 78 yard drive ending with, of course, a Lewis to Riley hook up.  Navy came back with a huge 73 yard scamper by White.  From that point on the game was nip and tuck with Navy taking a 24-20 lead at the half.

But Duke got some huge momentum from Joe Surgan who nailed a 52 yard field goal which cut into the half time lead.  Unlike the SI cover jinx, Surgan made one of the biggest kicks of his career on a day he graced the cover of the Duke Football Game Day program.

As mentioned earlier, Duke came out ready in the second half, especially the defense.  Linebackers Vinnie Rey and Michael Tauliili combined for 23 tackles, making the occasional vicious hit.  Rey made the biggest defensive play of the game when he scooped up a Navy fumble scampering into the end zone.

All in all, it was a huge day for Duke Football and they now have two weeks to prepare for Virginia.  On a hot and humid day, the resilient Devils gave the Wallace Wade crowd a good show making their fans proud. 

Whether you talk chants like "We are Duke!," or you look to the slogan "Dawn of a new day," it's clear that Duke Football is turning the corner. 

Be sure to check back to the Blue Devil Nation for more coverage of this big win, including some photos from the event!

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Quick Hitter #8 – Thaddeus Lewis talks Navy, getting over Northwestern

[private]On Navy - 

They will come at us hard every down.  You'll never play against anyone that comes at you harder. They are disciplined and sound and they do all the little things correctly.  They will use the cut block, so we'll have to stay up and fight all the time.

On the Northwestern game -

We were very upset with last week.  The guys ... nobody had their heads down, we just all said "next week."  We are going to practice well and make sure that doesn't happen again.  The guys aren't going to let anybody slack and that's a great thing.

We learned if you are there you have to make the play.  A couple of things happened during the game ... finger tipped balls ... problems in the open field.  We're a real good offense right now but if we make those big plays we could be a great offense

We could have easily gone into a shell, bit that's not happening.  Guys are confident in what we're doing and we have to go out there and come together as a team and show this week and play better and get us over the hump.

On the Seniors - 

The seniors are not going to let anybody slack up and we'll have to help them out.  We've had some guys in the past moping around, but that's not it - they say are you ready to go watch some film?  Coach Cutcliffe challenged them after the game and they will make sure we get better this week.

What was Cut's message? 

He just said two turnovers to none and if you didn't turn the ball over the outcome of the Northwestern game would have been different.[/private]