Tag Archives: Blue Devil Nation

Game Week – Cutcliffe talks to the media, part I

[private]Coach Cutcliffe addressed the media today with the emphasis on changing the culture of Duke Football and asking the fans to be in the stands early.

Opening statements - We are going to have a Blue Out.  So, we want everybody to wear blue to the game.  We want to see a sea of blue in the stadium.

Just evaluating our team, there are three phases that have happened already.  There's winter conditioning, there is spring practice and summer conditioning work.  All three phases, we've gotten better.  Is it good enough?  I'm not saying that.  But we're at a point of being so far away, that we have miles to go before we sleep, so to speak.  The fourth phase is the season.  It's very obvious we are better as a team.  I can give some specifics.

We are much better in the kicking game.  Again, consider where we were!  So, much better is not good enough to this point in my opinion.  But we are much better!  Our punting, our place kicking ... our kickoff has been excellent.  I like our ability to be a good return team!  Our coverage has been much better than what it's been.  I think we can make some things happen.  I think we can block some kicks.

As far as throwing and catching the ball -- I was very concerned after spring practice.  They (team) struggled with that.  Our throwing and catching was really poor.  It has now reached the point where it is much better.  Again, it's a little too inconsistent than what I like, but I'm pleased with the progress.

One of the areas I'm most pleased with is the pass coverage.  I think our secondary has done a tremendous job at this point.  I hope it is an indication of them improving, not our receivers not being able to separate.  There has been a tremendous job done by Coach Jones and Coach MacIntyre in that regard.

Our tackling has been better.  You can't play good defense ... the scheme doesn't matter if you can't tackle.  Our tackling is not where it should be at this time, but it is better than any point in spring practice.  If I had to lift something quickly right now, I would pray for great tackling.

The biggest concern I have, although there is improvement are both fronts.  Our front on defense is much better, but I have a major concern about depth there.  The offensive line is the same thing.  There has been drastic improvement, but it's still not where it needs to be and the depth is horrendous at this point.

Overall, the thing that has helped us get better is better practice habits.  I knew the first time I saw this team that was an issue.  We sometimes try to revert back to 0-12, 1-11 habits.  That's what we're here for is to make them understand you practice with the same intensity and the same execution which never waivers and we lose focus.  Our jobs as coaches is to immediately correct that.  If we continue to do that through the season, by the time we get to November, we can be a good football team.  We are not the most talented team in the conference, but we need to be a good football team and if you are a good football team you can carry into the fourth quarter and win the game.

On the importance of a good showing on Saturday night ... Thank goodness there's expectations.  I like that.  Obviously I know of the importance of going out and playing well and people coming back.  The biggest challenge is to generate the interest have some expectations.  If you don't go in expecting to do well, you generally will not.

On changing the culture and the mentality of players -  We have them everyday since last January and we've made progress in that regard.  The thing we had to do was get the people enthused, get them in the stands, sell the stadium out.  There has been too much finger pointing when it comes to Duke Football.  We all have to take responsibility..  Our Administration has been a part of this and very supportive and they've declared that they want to change the culture of football at Duke and we are taking that serious.  I'm not going to be afraid to challenge people.  If it's not good enough on their end then I need to let them know.  They can be mad if they want, but we are serious about changing the football program.

Part 2 is coming soon. Pictured is Coach David Cutcliffe and new Athletic Director, Kevin White. (copyright BDNP)[/private]

Duke Football Practice Report #3 – Fundamentals

[private]The Duke Football Staff has taken a step back and gone into a teaching mode.  "I changed our schedule to do a lot more teaching, a lot more fundamentals.  We are where we will test offense versus defense in more situations in the next two days," said Cutcliffe.

The team lined up the with DL's and LB's versus the offense early in the practice.  They were surrounded by five coaches which include Matt Luke, Kurt Roper, Zac Roper, Ron Middleton and of course Coach Cutcliffe.  It was obvious these guys had worked together and it was easy on the eyes to view the coaches at work.

Luke would bark orders just outside the trenches and Middleton stayed behind the offense, exhorting several players with Kurt Roper nearby.  Coach Cutcliffe was overseeing the whole scene with intensity, making the team run several players over.  Zac Roper, like Cutcliffe would push a linebacker in a certain direction from behind to either test the offense or to improve their skills aof perception.  In short, all the coaches were on the same page and they were trying to get the team that way.

A lot of emphasis was put on the throwing motion, stance and footwork of the quarterbacks.  The defensive linemen went one on two and one on three in drills.  Four or five players looked really good during these drills including offensive linemen, Goldberg and Roland.

The tight end position has has a lot of attention in that Brandon King has been out.  Cutcliife stated, "when we get this thing going rolling we will have two and three tight ends in the game at one  time.  We want guys who can stretch the field and are physical.  That's a special position to go and recruit.  I think the guys we have now are capable, but I don't think they are use to the versatility and what they are asked to do.

Notes- Duke will turn around and practice in the morning, for Cutcliffe has a speaking engagement at Tyler's Tap House in Durham.  Duke will wear full pads tomorrow and hold a closed scrimmage on Saturday.  Coach Cutcliffe said the team was in as good of shape as he thought they were.  He wouldn't go into individual players name but said the young guys are providing some speed and quickness.  He mentioned that his team needed to play lower which especially holds true for certain positions.  I noticed the same thing and it's as if Coach read my mind.  Coach said, "the first thing out of my mouth tomorrow is to play lower."  Coach also said his team could not afford to waste any reps.  He also mentioned that he liked seeing the stadium in the backdrop as Duke practiced.  Coach also said they have great respect for James Madison and their coaching staff, mentioning they were winners saying "we have a big challenge in front of us."  Vinnie Rey took a big hit and was taking into the Yoh Building.  It is said it was not serious.[/private]

Duke Football ready to begin a new era under Cutcliffe

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Duke Football is about to kick off the 2008 season under new Coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils held their annual picture day on Sunday in Wallace Wade Stadium and the Blue Devil Nation was there to cover the event. We secured several interviews and will have articles almost daily leading to the home opener with Division II power, James Madison. We will also be bringing you some coverage from football practices as Duke Football readies to embark on a new era. As always the BDN will bring you plenty of illustration, so check back in for a photo gallery tomorrow and a one on one with new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper later today. Until then, enjoy the links below.

Today's Football Links -

Duke Football begins new era

WRAL Video

New staff determined to change the culture of Duke Football

Lewis talks of meeting the Manning brothers

Will a summer of hard work pay off?

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Vegas links buffet – Boynton wows many!

Here is your daily platter of links from Las Vegas where the nation's top basketball prospects are gathered.   Let's start with the local paper the Las Vegas Journal Live.  Then there is this link at NBADraft.net followed by one of the better blogs around in Zags Blog.       

Let's not forget Jeff Goodman of Fox and then there is the LATimes-Thompson says tournaments not so good  for prospect's inflated egos.   Lastly, Jody Demling of the Louisville Courier has as a good report up.

Andre Dawkins talks of his dream coming true and more

One of the highlights for Duke fans during the Peach Jam was a chance to view Andre Dawkins, the first commitment in the class of 2010.  DeMarcus Nelson still holds the distinction of being the youngest player Duke has signed, but Dawkins is not far behind.

[private]Dawkins is one of three 2010 kids that plays for Boo Williams U-17 team.  IOW, he is playing with the older guys.  Boo Williams is loaded as well with the likes of Deshawn Painter, Steve Pledger, Kendall Marshall,  Marshawn Powell, Ricardo Ratliffe and Tristan Spurlock.  This means, Dawkins comes off then bench and is depended on for his scoring ability.

In this past weeks games, Dawkins wasted little time showing why he is such a component off the pine.  Immediately upon enetering the game, he dribbled to the right of the key and drained a three.  Just seconds later he hit another.  Yes, outside shooting is his strength and he's clearly the best at this on a talented team.

There are games which his minutes are cut, but next year, he'll be one of if not the go to guy on a team that will still have Marshall at the PG and Travis McKie and James MacAdoo among others.  When he gets more minutes, he will be scoring around 18 ppg during the AAU season and will still have another year left.

Dawkins is still very much a youngster.  He has a baby face and his body is still developing.  Development will be the key for Dawkins and he knows it.  "I think I need to work on getting to the basket more and not being known as a one trick pony.  To be just a shooter ... eventually you can be stopped, so I have to add more than just one dimension.  The Duke coaches have told me to be more aggressive," said Dawkins.

During the high school season, Dawkins takes to the court with teammate Oklahoma bound Steve Pledger from the class of 2009.  Having played together on Boo Williams helps.  Dawkins had this to say about Pledger, "He can see the floor very well.  He's definitely a pass first guy.  To be that good of a scorer and passer makes him easy to play with."

I then asked him what it was like to be a Duke Blue Devil and he stated, "It's cool.  I can say I'm a Blue Devil and that I've accomplished a goal."  He went on, "Once you commit, you get a little ribbing.  Kendall Marshall and I go into our Duke-UNC mode, but we're still alright."  He went on to say that he looked forward to carrying the new found rivalry to the college court in the future.

Dawkins attended a couple of games this past season and plans on getting down for more.  I asked if he envisioned himself dropping a three as the Cameron Crazies erupting ... "Oh yeah!  That's the stuff you dream about."  Dream was the keyword throughout the conversation.  There were four instances where he said being offered by Duke was a dream come true.

Finally, the world wants to know about his fiend Josh Hairston, so I asked about him and Dawkins responded, "I like playing with Josh.  He's a good guy and we stay in touch.  I would love to play with him.  I thought he would have already committed,  It's a big decision for him, so you don't want to rush it."

Blue Devil Nation will have a complete scouting report on his game later this week.  I have now seen him play in seven times and have a pretty good feel for his game.  We will also have an extended, in depth interview with Andre coming next week.[/private]

Nike Peach Jam Day One (afternoon)

The Nike Peach Jam kicked off this morning with several of the nations top prospects trying to impress college coaches.  Daniel Orton and Xavier Henry led their team to a win over California Supreme, who was without star center Jeremy Tyler, a no show.

UNC prospect Leslie McDonald was also missing with his duties with the national U-18 team.  Still, there are many stars from John Wall to Josh Selby and more.  The majority of the prospects are unsigned and some have even opened their recruitment back up after committing.  One of those players is Marshawn Powell who had originally said Arkansas was his choice.

Powell plays for AAU power Boo Williams, but even with the help of eight Division I futures, the tournament favorite went down to defeat in their first game.  In fact, it took a three point shot at the buzzer to knock them out 67-64 after blowing a sizable lead.

The winner, Team Texas was led by Gary Franklin.  Of course, Boo Williams features Duke's first 2010 commitment Andre Dawkins.  Dawkins didn't disappoint.  He came into the game with 8:33 left in the second half and immediately drained two jumpers.  He has 12 of his 14 points in the first half in the aforementioned allotted time.  He was 5 of 9 from the field and 4 of 8 from the three point stripe.

Duke Assistant Steve Wojciechowski watched from the sidelines.  Also watching the game were Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, Seth Greenberg and a multitude of assistant coaches.  All watched as a cast of Tristan Spurlock, Steven Pledger, Kendall Marshall, Deshawn Painter and the aforementioned Powell and Dawkins couldn't will their team to victory.  An aside, Marshall and Dawkins are the only 2010 players on this veteran team.

Peach Jam Alum include - Amare Stoudamire, Carmelo Anthony, Shelden Williams, Kevin Durant, Brendan Wright, JJ Redick, Dwayne Wade, Greg Oden, Baron Davis, Elton Brand and Dirk Nowitkzi.

Blue Devil Nation Premium will take in Jamil Wilson's 6:00 game and and Boo Williams following that.  John Wall and others are on tomorrow's schedule and we'll try to make a later afternoon game where Nate Lubick and Jason Morris are in action in Aiken, S.C.

Blue Devil Nation Premium members will continue to receive updates as the weekend goes on.  Members will also get to hear interviews with the prospects and in depth scouting reports.  You can subscribe by going to the paypal links in the left menu in this link.