Tag Archives: Cutcliffe

Duke, USF, and Memphis are finalists for Alabama TE David Reeves

TE David Reeves took an official visit to Duke in December

With a solid group of verbal commitments already in hand, Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Duke coaching staff are looking to add another impact player or two to the class of 2011. For the past several months, Alabama TE David Reeves has been near the top of the Blue Devils’ wish list. The 6’5” 242 pound prospect from Greensboro East High School is the type of athlete that would have an immediate impact on the field in Durham. Reeves has earned praise from scouts and coaches for his great size, speed, and hands. The 2011 Alabama Sports Writers Association 3A Lineman of the Year, Reeves has also excelled on the basketball court and the track and field team for Greensboro. Blue Devil Nation recently spoke with the highly-coveted prospect about his recruitment.

BDN: For those fans who haven’t had a chance to see you play in person, can you describe in your own words some of your strengths as a player?

Well, I think that with my speed, I create mismatches with most linebackers, and with my size, most safeties won’t be able to cover me and jump with me. I play basketball, too, so I don’t think they can jump with me. I think that I have the awareness to be able to adjust to where I need to be.

BDN: I know some schools have talked about recruiting you for different positions. What position would you prefer to play in college where you think you can have the best impact?

Well, I really like tight end, so that’d be it.

BDN: It certainly sounds like your skill set is well-suited for that. You were named the 3A Lineman of the Year, which is a nice honor, so congratulations for that. How would you describe your senior year and what do you think led to your success this season?

Personally, I feel like I did a lot better. I was doing all the little things right this year. This is my last year, I want to make sure I leave an impression and make the young kids want to do good – do better than what I did.

BDN: Can you talk a little bit about where you are in the recruitment process?

Ok, well, as signing day comes closer, it’s going to get pretty hectic. I’ve got to remember that it’s a business and I can’t let the relationships I’ve build with the coaches that are recruiting me make me feel bad if I choose to go somewhere else. I’ve just got to keep in mind that it’s all business and the schools that I don’t go to, they’ll understand.

BDN: I think Duke was the first school you took an official visit to back in December. Can you talk about that visit and what your thoughts are on the Duke program?

Duke has been recruiting me since mid-season, yeah, I’d say about mid-season. Coach Middleton is my recruiting coach and he’s also the tight end coach. I had a good time when I came down. It was a lot different than I expected it to be. I had a lot of fun when I went out with the players and stuff and I really got along with them good. I think they’re trying to do something big – make a name for Duke football on the campus, and that’s where I could probably help them get it done.

BDN: You recently visited South Florida. Can you talk a little about that visit and their program?

Yeah, I had a good time. I enjoyed the city, enjoyed the people. Also, their Coach Scott, Coach Larry Scott, he’s my recruiting coach there and he’s also my tight end coach, so it’s the same way it is at Duke. I enjoyed the players and the time I spent with them, and the facilities and all that too. They’re still an up and coming program, but they’re going in the right direction also.

BDN: Do you have any other visits planned between now and signing day?

Well, I’ve got Memphis this week and possibly Mississippi State next week, but I think that I’ll probably make a decision between now and next weekend.

BDN: So Memphis this weekend and then a decision sometime next week?

Yeah.

BDN: Without necessarily talking about any specific schools, as you step back and make your college choice, what are some of the most important things you’re looking for in a school and a football program?

The overall atmosphere and support for the football players and football program. And the fan base, like, the exposure and all that. Mostly, the people like the coaches and the players. Yeah, the players are the most important because they’re going to be around all the time and if you don’t like them, you can’t have a good time in college.

BDN: That’s a great perspective to have. Growing up in Alabama and SEC country, how much have you followed the ACC and the Big East and what are your thoughts on those conferences and their style of play?

Well, yeah, you know I’m from an SEC area and it’s a big thing, you know, SEC football. I know that there’s competition everywhere, though, so I know that just because I’m not going to like a big SEC school, I’m still going to be competing with some of the best athletes in the country.

BDN: Thanks so much, David. I know you’re busy, so I just want to thank you for taking the time to talk with us and congratulate you on your success. I know we all wish you the best of luck with your decision.

Alright, thanks, I appreciate that.

David’s senior year highlights can be viewed here.

Resilient Blue Devils down Wahoo’s 55-48 in a barn burner

Scott extends to score - Photo courtesy GoDuke.Com and Duke Photography

The Duke Blue Devils came out on fire scoring 21 first quarter points and they ended the fourth quarter with another 21 points in a thrilling 55-48 victory over Virginia.  In between those quarters was an offensive showdown but in the end Desmond Scott danced down the sidelines for a 35 yard run for a touchdown shortly the possession after he fumbled the ball after a solid Virginia hit.

Demond Scott was quite simply resilient but he was not alone, for several Blue Devils stepped up to the plate and willed Duke to their first ACC win of the season and their second straight win.  Scott would finish with 97 yards rushing on the day and the Blue Devils ran for a total of 230 yards, the most since 2003 against an ACC school.

Duke back up quarterback Brandon Connette had 78 yards rushing himself and two rushing scores, his first a 2 yard run and his second an exciting 20 yard jaunt.  And then starting quarterback Sean Renfree ran for two scores as well including a 37 yard run for a score putting Duke up before the Cavaliers scored two touchdowns of their own, the last one a Keith Payne 6 yard run which put the Cavaliers up 48-47.

The Blue Devils were working on field goal position but Scott’s aforementioned run worked out just fine and according to Duke Coach David Cutcliffe, the play was just installed this week.  The Duke defense then held after letting up 643 yards of total offense to the Cavaliers.

Another Duke star was tight end Cooper Helfet who pulled in 7 passes for 122 yards, a team high and a score.  His play and the play of Duke’s wideout depth helped offset the loss of Conner Vernon who was knocked silly on a kickoff return.

The way Duke won was incredible in that it looked as if they were going to lose a heart breaker.  With just over a minute Duke got the ball back and trailed by a single digit.  Renfree was sacked by the Virginia defense in his first two plays and Duke was forced to use their last timeout and the next play was an incomplete pass to Helfet.

That sat the scene for a 4th and 18 play where Renfree hit a streaking Donovan Varner for a 32 yard completion to the UVA 47 yard line and just when you were thinking a Duke field goal to win the game Duke found the end zone and smiles abounded from cheerleaders, fans and players for Duke won a bonafide thriller.

There was so much action it’s hard to emcompess it in one article so we’ll have more coming your way shortly as Duke goes to 3-6 on the season with Boston College coming into Wallace Wade Stadium next week.

Full Stats Here

Duke at Navy – Q&A Exchange with Navy Blog

BDN exchanged the following Q&A with the Birddog Blog in anticipation of Duke’s matchup with Navy in Annapolis.

BDN: Coming off a 9-4 season in 2009 and an impressive bowl win against Missouri, what were your expectations for Navy this season? How would you evaluate the season so far?

BB: My expectations don’t change much from year to year. A lot of people saw that win over Missouri as a springboard for a run at a BCS game in 2010, but most of those same people thought the team was doomed after losing to Hawaii and looking sort of sloppy against Army a few weeks earlier. So much can happen over the course of a season that I’ve always found predicting records beforehand to be kind of pointless. I generally expect the team to win more than they lose, and go from there. In that sense, Navy is right on track at 5-2. Losing to Air Force was definitely a disappointment, but other than that it’s been pretty much business as usual for Navy.

BDN: Some coaches and media members have been outspoken regarding cut blocking in college football. I have read some of your blog posts on cut blocking and defending against the cut block, and think that you raise some important points. Can you summarize your thoughts on this issue for our readers?

BB: Every team cut blocks, even the ones with coaches who complain about it. It’s the most effective way to get a defender on the ground. Blocking at the legs is no more dangerous than tackling at the legs, and I don’t hear anyone calling to make that illegal.
Nobody seemed to care about cut blocking when Navy was losing. Now all of a sudden it’s an issue.

BDN: From what I’ve seen, the Midshipman have struggled when they fall behind early, which was the case against Maryland and Air Force. How would you suggest a team prepare for Navy and the option offense? Is an early lead and a good offense really the best defense?

BB: Navy fell behind in every game other than Notre Dame and Georgia Southern. People seem to think that once an option offense falls behind, it’s impossible to come back. It just isn’t true.
The best way to prepare a defense to face an option offense is to focus on winning individual matchups and confusing the quarterback. There is no magic scheme that Navy’s coaches can’t adjust to. The most successful teams either beat their blocks and make plays behind the line of scrimmage, or they give the quarterback a variety of stunts and reads to force him into making a mistake.

BDN: Army was able to open things up with a few big passing plays against Duke. Ricky Dobbs is averaging over 17 yards per completion for Navy this year; what have been the keys to the success through the air?

BB: Option offenses tend to create a lot of one-on-one matchups in the passing game, especially since defenses are forced to involve their secondaries in run support. Navy doesn’t pass very often, but when they do it tends to be for maximum effect. That leads to the lofty per-completion averages you see from Navy QBs and receivers. There’s more to it than just scheme, though. Navy has thrown the ball fairly well this year, and I think it’s for a few reasons. First and foremost, Ricky Dobbs is just a better passer than a lot of people seem to give him credit for. Second, though, is that the Navy offensive line is playing better this year. Navy is always near the top of the list for fewest sacks per game, mostly because they also throw the fewest passes. If you measure the number of sacks per pass attempt, though, Navy has usually been terrible, averaging a sack for every 5-9 pass attempts over the last 5 years or so. This year, the line only averages a sack every 11.4 pass attempts. That still isn’t the greatest, but it’s a significant improvement over previous seasons.

BDN: Duke and Navy have played fairly even over their past few meetings. What do you expect from the 1-6 Blue Devils on Saturday?

BB: It’s hard to know how a team is going to react to being 1-6. Will they come out fighting, desperate for a win to break their slide? Or will they look worn out and beaten down, just puching the clock until the end of the season? Duke’s mental state will be as much of a factor in this game as anything.
Offensively, you know what you’re going to get out of a David Cutcliffe team; 30-40 passes and 20-30 runs per game, and lately, a couple of interceptions thrown in for good measure. Turnovers are especially damaging against a team like Navy that likes to control the clock (the Mids are 5th nationally at 33:40 per game). Teams get fewer possessions per game, making each one more valuable. It puts a lot of pressure on the opposing offense to make the most of the few opportunities they get.
On defense, Duke had a lot of success using the squeeze and scrape against Navy in 2008. The squeeze and scrape is when the defensive end “blocks” the playside tackle, preventing him from getting to the second level. That unblocked linebacker then would go on to make the tackle, usually on the quarterback. How well that plan works depends a lot on who the quarterback is; Navy ran all over Duke with their starter in the first half, then came to a grinding halt in the second half with the backup under center. Notre Dame tried the same thing last year and lost. I doubt Duke will use the same plan.

Duke Coach David Cutcliffe addresses the media

BDN Photo

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Good afternoon. It’s a good opportunity for us to have this open date week. Preparation, we need a little extra time for Miami, but more importantly a little extra time on Duke.

Its somewhat like spring practice around here right now. We have a lot of things to show up and a lot of people to grow up, try to get better one practice at a time. With that, I’ll take any questions.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about recruiting in the sense that you have a class now that’s your fourth-year seniors and your third-year juniors that’s very low in numbers for various reasons. How difficult is that to overcome in a program where you have a near hole in your progression of recruiting classes? 

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, it is sometimes a little difficult. You try to balance those numbers out. We’ve looked at that closely.

We’re in a situation where we can sign – and the number may vary – but over 20 this year. Next year, looks like the number is going to be real low. Our scholarships are really tight. It puts you in a little bit of a bind. You don’t want that to keep reoccurring. It’s hard to get out of that.

Between redshirting some, playing some freshmen, that’s kind of how we’ll balance it over a period of time. We’re okay right now. We have a predominantly young football team, as I’ve said before. 99, including our walk-ons. We’ve tried to revitalize the walk-on program. We had 99 guys out there in August, and 51 of them were either true or redshirt freshmen.

Q. Isn’t that a function of what should be a core class, being small, that you don’t get a lot out of what should be one of the guys that are really producing and leading right now?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Oh, no question. We had some of that left. It didn’t work out. Unfortunately, a little bit of dismal circumstances, so it depleted it pretty rapidly. We’re not a junior college recruiting program. That’s the other way you try. I’ve been a part of that before, where we had to beef up some lean classes with JC guys. Cooper Helfet certainly helped that with the junior class. That’s not going to happen very often at Duke.

Q. David, how is your tight end position evolving this year? Looks like Brett has missed some time with injuries, but other guys moved up on the depth chart in that area.

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Brandon King and Cooper Helfet are doing the bulk of the play. Brett has been out for some time now with a knee. He was injured in practice. So he’s missed three ballgames. Hopefully we get Brett back.

But Brandon and Cooper are a little different model. Coop is more of the lean receiver and can run. Brandon is a little bit of a fullback/tight end type guy. We have a lot of guys that play a lot of positions for us and play versatile positions for us. It’s one that we’re growing the model. Not quite where we want to be, but I’m pleased with those guys and certainly what Coach Middleton has gotten done with that position.

Q. Is it possible Brett will be back for your next game?

COACH CUTCLIFFE: We’re kind of day to day. I mean, between this open day, he has a little bit of running in today for the first time. I don’t know if that’s going to compute in him being able to get back out and practice, but there’s a chance he’ll play..

Q. On Miami …

COACH CUTCLIFFE: Miami is a large amount of time, two-back big personnel. Kind of have to look at both worlds a little bit against them. But it’s something we do like. It’s something we did a lot at Ole Miss with great success. We’re hopefully kind of going to be able to grow that model with young guys like Anthony Young-Wiseman, Jordon Byas, Taylor Sowell, some other safety types that are guys that are physical enough to play in linebacker, but yet can play man-to-man coverage and do a lot of things in the secondary as well for us.