Category Archives: Duke Football

General Update – Behind the scenes skinny on football and hoops

The Duke staff will take in an open gym for Brandon Knight tomorrow.  [private] They will have a school visit with Kenny Boynton Jr.

I told you in the last update, that Duke will visit all of their prospects as NCAA rules allow.  They have been very pro active and will continue to be.

As mentioned in an older update, Harrison Barnes will be visiting on October 24th.  It was contingent on finances and it has worked out.  This is a very good sign, but it'll be quite a while before he makes a decision.

Prospect Ryan Kelly is visiting UNC.  I'm expecting a decision as early as next week.  The general feeling is that Duke is very much in it, but so are the other teams.

Assistant Coach Nate James went to an open gym for Josh Smith late last weekend.

The Duke Football team has been practicing with crowd noise all week.  They have sent staff members down to Atlanta early to scout out the area.  IOW, they are taking extra precautions to make sure the team is relaxed and gets a good nights sleep.  Eron Riley will suit up despite the injury report and the Devils are expecting both Tech QB's to be ready, being aware of the pre game chess match. [/private]

Georgia Tech preview

[private]Duke heads to Atlanta this weekend for the first road game of the Coach Cutcliffe era. The 3-1 Blue Devils will face a solid 3-1 Georgia Tech team. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a bye week after defeating Mississippi State 38-7 on September 20th. Georgia Tech's 306.8 yards per game on the ground leads the ACC. Coach Paul Johnson is considered the best coach around for the triple option spread offense. Duke's defense must contain the Georgia Tech ground attack for the Blue Devils to have a chance to win.

Coach Paul Johnson has announced that freshman Jaybo Shaw will be the Yellow Jacket's starting Quarterback against Duke due to regular starter Josh Nesbitt being sidelined with a hamstring injury. Nesbitt was injured in the game against Mississippi State resulting in Shaw playing the majority of the game. In this article, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Johnson states, "If Josh can come back now, he'll be in a reserve [role], and Jaybo will be starting."

In this Durham Herald Sun article, Coach Cutcliffe states, "This is certainly the best team we've played, far and away. We've got to play great in all areas - and I mean great - to have a chance to stay on the field." Duke previously defeated Navy so they are experienced defending the triple option offense. Linebackers Michael Tauiliili and Vincent Rey are currently ranked first and second respectively in the ACC for tackles. They will need to have strong games against the Yellow Jackets.

This News & Observer article addresses the particular concern of Georgia Tech's big play potential. The Yellow Jackets have had 27 plays go for more than 20 yards with nine producing touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets also go for it on fourth down more often than most teams.

On offense, Duke is fueled by Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and his favorite receiver Eron Riley. Lewis is second in the ACC with 218.5 passing yards per game. He has thrown seven touchdown passes with six of them going to Eron Riley. Lewis likes to spread the ball around and freshman Johnny Williams has 18 receptions on the season; sophomores Austin Kelly and Sheldon Bell have 10 each. Duke's offensive line must provide protection so Lewis has time to pass the ball. Georgia Tech is second in the ACC with 11 sacks.

Duke must establish their running game for a couple of big reasons.  First, forcing Gerogia Tech to respect the run will prevent the Yellow Jacket defense from going after Thad Lewis with a big pass rush every play.  Second, Duke needs to maintain possession of the ball in order to keep their defense fresh and able to deal with Georgia Tech's high powered running game.  Freshman Jay Hollingsworth came on strong in the Virginia game rushing for 59 yards on 15 carries.  A similar effort against the Yellow Jackets will be needed in order for the Duke offense to achieve success.

This game will turn on the normal events: controlling the line of scrimmage, turnovers, and big plays. If Duke can survive the first quarter without getting knocked out, the Blue Devils have a chance to still be in the game at the start of the fourth quarter. And if the game is still undecided at the start of the fourth quarter, anything can happen. Duke must start fast, especially on defense, take care of the ball on offense, and create more big plays than they give up to win.[/private]

BDN Exclusive – Interview with Duke LB and National DPOW, Michael Tauilliili

[private]Fresh off his national and ACC player of the week honors, Michael Tauiliili sat down with for an exclusive interview with the Blue Devil Nation.  Tauiliili recorded 16 tackles, forcing a fumble, recovering a fumble and grabbed an interception in the red zone versus Virginia.

You had some nice accolades this past weekend.  Did you feel as if you had to take it upon yourself to go in there and disrupt the Virginia offense?

Not really.  I Just wanted to make sure I had my assignments down and we knew they would come in with high intensity looking to get their season back against us.  They have big offensive linemen - their backs are big and I just wanted to prepare for what they would attack us with.  I wanted to be prepared and play physically because you can't be intimidated at all with those kind of guys.  I just wanted to come on the field and hit em in the mouth.

What happened on the interception you made ... what was going through your mind or how did you play it?

Well it was a formation we had seen in practice.  Coach Mac (Intyre) and the LB coach had been teasing me a little bit because we knew this was a formation they went to.  A couple I had missed it early in the week and as soon as they came out - we were in the red zone at the time - I knew exactly where to go, just like Coach Mac said.

I then showed him a play on the computer where he forced a fumble and asked him to describe the play and what happened. (see picture left)

This was a play where there was a fumble recovery.  I guess their was a miscommunication between the QB and center.  There was a blitz called and the center snapped the ball without the rest of the offense being ready.  I continued to come with the blitz and forced him to throw it out.

You forced him to get rid of that ball early ...

(smiling) Yeah.  I was going for the sack, but then I saw him throw it behind him.

A fumble is better than a sack in this case for sure.  Georgia Tech!  They run a similar set to Navy, but they are more physical and athletic.  You have to watch their wide outs and well, what are your thoughts on them?

Oh Yeah.  We definitely understand that Paul Johnson has brought the Navy mentality there.  It's Navy with ACC calibre athletes and we will have to be prepared for the speed and the physicality.  We will continue to work on the schemes we did with Navy making sure people are accountable for their responsibilities.

The coach has really challenged the seniors.   During the teleconference he stated that they were really happy in the locker room last Saturday.  Also, I believe he challenged you guys after the Northwestern game.   As a senior and a leader, what do you do to keep this team prepared or on the edge?

We are just constantly reminding them and guys know the situation that's at hand for the seniors and that we are getting ready for the last stretch, giving it our old and we ask them to do the same.  We constantly demand to give the most and everything that we have and we lead in that way to the younger players.  As a senior, I'm just living in the moment.

I know you don't pay a lot of attention to the media, but some insist that Virginia wasn't that good.  Do you still feel like you have some work to do or that you have to beat a team like Georgia Tech which is a pretty big favorite over you guys this weekend?

I think that we are never going to be satisfied.  Like you say I really don't get into the media.  I could care less what people think about who we've played or who is coming up.  We are the ones who have to play and the ones preparing week in and week out.  We just have to go do what we have to do taking one game at a time.

Is there a bit of a swagger or a quiet confidence with the team this season?  Do you see things this season you may have missed in the past and that it is now coming together?

I would say that it is some strong confidence going on with this team.  We've tasted success and see the things we can do when we rise to the occasion or play the way we are capable of playing.  It's not going to happen just because we've done it before.  we will constantly have to work and get better.  We are working on getting better each week.  We are not getting complacent at all.

An off week!  Good thing or bad thing?

I think it's a good thing from a technique standpoint.  for me, I work on tackling, fundamentals and key reads.  At the same time we are also looking at film to prepare.  At the same time, I don't like it becasue I feel kind of out of the loop watching other games and as a football player you always want to play when possible.

There is going to be a hostile atmosphere in Atlanta - your first road game this season.  Is this something you look forward to ... being in a position where the crowd will be cheering against you?

Yeah.  I always like going on the road.  Especially going in 3-1.  It will be interesting and there will be a lot of people down there, some even cheering for us.

(Vince Oghobasse walked by going to the team elevator)  Tell me about your relationship with this guy.  You two are friends?

We met in the fifth grade and ever since then we have been best friends.  We went to the same intermediate school and the same middle school.  During high school everything is so close that it was done by random draw and we ended up at rival high schools.

He got a little annimated on the field this past Saturday ...

(smiling) Yeah, it was funny.  We joked about it and he does a great job of getting into it.  We feed off each others energy on defense, so it was a good thing to see.

Good luck this weekend!

Thank you.

Be sure to stop back in this week for exclusive one on one interviews with Duke OL Fred Roland and Thaddeus Lewis.  The Blue Devil Nation is your source for Duke Football coverage.[/private]

Cutcliffe opens up about defeating UVA, Duke freshman and Georgia Tech

[private]Here is today's question and answer session with Coach David Cutcliffe -

Opening statement -

I want to first say that looking at the tape, it's good to win 31-3 with so many things that we can do better.  We rushed offensively, our execution wasn't near what it had been.  Obviously, I didn't do a good enough job keeping us oiled up during the open date.  Defensively, a little slow starting, but in the second quarter we started playing as good as we could have.  We're glad to get the win and it was certainly big for our seniors.  I wish you could have seen those young men in the locker room.  I've already had a team meeting this afternoon and we will shortly be going out on the field to work on Georgia Tech

(BDN) Coach, Michael Tauiliili had a career high 16 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception,  Can you talk a little about his game?

I certainly can.  He had the interception of course and the fumble recovery, but he's been playing like that all season.  He's had a tremendous start to the season.  He's about 25 pounds lighter than he was a year ago and had certainly proved he's game ... playing at a much faster pace.  He's become a much better tackler.  Mike is one of our captains and I think he's probably grown as much as anybody on our team to this point.  I think he's playing like an All American linebacker.

(Go Duke) After playing some special teams the first few games, you got Butler and Daniels in the rotation in the secondary.  Can you talk about the two.  I assume we will be seeing a lot more of them?

Absolutely you will see more of them.  I challenged both of them during the open date to pick it up.  Meaning assignments, techniques, consistency.  It's hard to put a young guy in the secondary.  It's hard to put a guy anywhere if you don't trust them.  They're both really good prospects.  You saw them.  If you've watched us at all you saw them make plays in the special teams area.  Lee and Matt are going to be playing much more over the rest of the season and they will both be really fine football players.

(N & O)  Following up an Lee and Matt - what is it about them physically?  Where are they at this point?

Well they're both extremely fast.  As fast if not faster than anybody we have on our team.  Now days we have freshman come in in the summer.  They are really good athletes, their bodys have responed really well in weight training and conditioning.

(Chronicle)  I don't know if you know yet, but you got a vote in the coaches poll.  I was wondering, does that mean anything?

Well, I didn't know.  Depending upon who made the vote (laughing).  It might be a good friend, or it could be Coach Spurrier again.  All that is short lived if you don't win.  All we are concerned about is becoming a better football team.

(BDN)  Coach, back to freshman a second.  Can you talk a little bit about how Jay Hollingsworth has developed?

Jay took a huge step in this last game.  He's slowly getting there too.  He's another one of those guys with his body  just responding.  He's actually got a little sore hamstring and was able to work through it, which impressed me.  A lot of youngsters can't do that and he's a tough kid, he has great body lean.  If he will continue to work he will be a really fine player.  He has a nice natural body lean and vision - catches the ball real well out of the backfield.  He's going to get a lot of touches over the years.

(NY Times) We are doing a theme on how volatile this weekend was in college football.  You've obviously taken Duke and lifted them up significantly so far.  Can you talk of the line between winning and losing in college football and how chaotic it'll probably be?

I feel sorry for people that take pride in picking winners and have this high percentage.  It's going to be very difficult.  It's a lot of programs like ourselves and there are teams who aren't  your perennial power houses that have made an effort to attract a better player.  And the other part is that a lot of us are doing a much better job of developing talent.  There's a combination of things.  We're a good football team right now.  I would say we are near being a great football team, but we have a good team, which means it could go either way for us every week.  We have to play our best to have a chance to win.  It's going to be harder for teams to put up double digit wins in the future.

(Herald Sun)  Does it help in a kind of backwards way that the team is bringing consistency, that they haven't had in the past?

Well, I think it makes you hungrier.  I would hope we maintain that hunger.  Hey, listen!  We should be hungry enough .. we need a ten or fifteen year stretch of devouring food - we should be so hungry for success.  So, hopefully we'll manage that.  I'm not literally talking about food, you guys know that.

(NY Times) I just wanted to ask - do you have a sense of where you stand in the ACC?  You haven't been through this for a year yet, so there is a lot of newness to it.  But do you know where you stand and do you think Georgia Tech will give you a better answer?

That's a program that has been to eleven straight bowls and they obviously have good players on the field.  They have been successful this particular season.   I haven't played a road game yet.  It's hard to tell where we stand.  From me evaluatiing our team, we've got a long way to go to get to where we want to be.  What we are trying to do is get to where we can at least be competitive and when the game's over feel like we've played well.

(Herald Sun) Do you pay any attention to Navy beating Wake Forest or Northwestern is undefeated?

No, not really but Northwestern should be 4-1, but they are 5-0.  Injuries can change teams, so usually comparative scores in my experience never work.

(BDN)  You've outscored your opponents 76-14 in the second half in each of the first four games.  Is there a recipe for that?

I think it's conditioning.  I also think it's our staff.  We're in systems that we've been in for a long time and we hope we know how to fix some problems at halftime.  I think our staff does a tremendous job of that on both side of the ball and the kicking game.  So, when you are in themes and you are not grab bagging and you believe in the system ... we've really done a nice job of that and I think our players truly are fresh in the second half.  They look forward to it, they really do.  When we are running they're always hollering we want more ... I think it's a ploy to get me to stop, but I think they can go more,  We've shown them you can push yourself beyond what you thought you could.

(AJC) Coach Johnson has kind of developed a reputation down here of gambling on fourth down going for it fourth and three up 14-0 and scoring a touchdown on the play.  When you go against a coach like that who is known as more of a gambler, does that effect your schemes and how you prepare for them?

It effects us because they think they're in four down territory all the time because the style of their offense.  In our study of Navy in the spring and summer - they go for it all the time.  You have to be ready to make fourth down calls on defense every possession.  Their percentage of making them is very high.  So, I don't know if he is gambling as much as he is just confident in what his offense is going to do.

(AJC) Will it help that you've played Navy?

I think it goes both ways.  They have better athletes than Navy.  But they can see us against their offense, so we have got to tweak some things and do some things differently - so there is a little bit of cat and mouse going on.[/private]

Devilish defense helps Duke thump Virginia 31-3

[private]Duke used four interceptions and two fumble recoveries to derail the Virginia offense in route to a 31-3 win.  The Blue Devils outscored the Cavaliers 28-0 in the second half.  Duke goes to 3-1 on the season and will face a well rested Georgia Tech team next Saturday.

BDN Player of the Game - Michael Tauiliili 9 solo tackles, 7 assisted tackles, 1 forced fumble and an interception in the Virginia red zone.

More to come![/private]

Quick hitter double header – Asack and Lewis talk Duke Football

[private]Zack Asack -

On the turnaround on offense this season -

Our offensive line has been doing a great job selling both the pass and the run.  Being able to run the ball has definitely opened up the passing game.  Overall, the whole offense is getting better - everybody knowing their assignments and who to block.  When the holes are real big, it's easy to run.

On his role on the team -

I'm the back up.  I'm always ready to play and I'm always working as hard as I can every day in practice.  I'm always ready to go, but Thad is doing real well right now.  I have got some snaps in the second half which causes the opponent to switch up some on defense, so I try to make the most of it when I go in there.

On the lack of ACC wins and the Wahoo's -

We're 0-0 in the conference and we want to start 1-0.  Virginia is going to be a great contest for us.  It's one game at a time and we are totally focused on Virginia at this time.

Thaddeus Lewis -

You are coming off a performance that earned you offensive player of the week.  How can you put the personal accolades behind you and focus on Virginia?

Personal accolades are a compliment but winning is the team goal.  I don't really look a it or read the paper.  I didn't even know it until my coach text it to me.  I just try to stay away from TV other than the games.  I just focus on us as a team.

Do you feel like you can carry over the momentum despite a bye week?

I'm pretty sure we will be ready.  The bye week is actually beneficial because some guys are banged up.  Some kids probably wouldn't have been able to play had we not had the extra week.

Has Coach Cutcliffe alluded to the fact that Duke hasn't won an ACC game in a while?

It's ACC week.  That's all he is saying that it is ACC week.  We are going to continue to do the things we do well.  It means a lot, it means a whole lot going into the ACC.

Is there more intensity?

He came out and let us know what time it was and what he expected out of us.  He's a straight forward guy and he tells us what we need to do better to prepare for the ACC.  If you do things right in practice it will just come to you naturally in the game.  He's done a great job of making me do that this week.

What's made you a better quarterback this season?

Just making smarter decisions.  Listening to what Coach has been saying.  So, doing the little things  right and going out there and doing the things I can to help this team win.

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