Tag Archives: David Cutcliffe

David Cutcliffe Bye Week Q & A

COACH CUTCLIFFE: This open date has obviously come at a good time for us with the number of injuries that we've had to starters. We still, right now, have six out that will return.

We've got both Mark Gilbert out for the season and Marvin Hubbard. But it's come at a good time. And also obviously at a tough time, when you get beat and you go into an open date, sometimes the reaction that you have can be panic. And this team's not that way. I think this team understands it's got to play well to win but it knows how to go about its business.

And we've practiced really well to this point. We'll practice again tomorrow and give them the weekend off and then start preparation for Georgia Tech Sunday evening.

Q. Ricky Walker didn't pop off the stat sheet Saturday night. But you made a point to praise him in your postgame remarks. What makes him so difficult to block?
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, he's obviously -- he's really strong. He's big. Not necessarily tall. But you know he's just a big upper-bodied guy that has extreme quickness. He has great hands. So he's a penetrator. He's what I call a disrupter.

Anybody that can penetrate your line of scrimmage as much as he's done against us, he certainly has given us many problems. I think there's no question he's an all-conference performer and I voted him that way every year.

Q. I know it's early in the conference season. Do you suspect that the parity this year is just as strong or maybe even stronger considering the rise of Syracuse and BC and your team, too?
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, I think in 11 seasons that I've been in the league, that this is as balanced as it's been, but it's been coming this way, and more and more so.

There's not a game anybody's going to play that you're going to ignore anybody; that you can ignore as a game you already got it in the left-hand column. You've got to play well. And you're going to have to play hard for 60 minutes.

And we didn't play well Saturday. And Virginia Tech did. People kind of looking at what happened. We got beat. That literally was the fact of the matter that they just played better than we played. And I thought we had prepared well. And when this parity in this league -- I told our team, welcome to the next seven games you're going to play. Every ACC game is going to be the same. It's going to require that you play as well as you can possibly play.

Q. I know after the game you talked about the frustration of not being able to run the ball as consistently as you had last week. When you look back at the tape, was that something that they did, something that you did, and how much of an emphasis have you placed on trying to get back to more consistency in the run game during the bye-week practices?
COACH CUTCLIFFE: I think probably the most (lost audio) there was a lot of eight-man coverage that they were playing. We couldn't run the ball. There were various reasons. Everybody takes credit, but it starts with me. You gotta schematically do things right. And that's my responsibility and we didn't do that as well as we should.

Then you have to physically win some battles. And at times we weren't doing that as well as we could. We got really good byes and we're better in the offensive front. But to run the football, what you have to do is be consistent. And that means everybody. That means quarterback making the right decisions, that means the head football coach making sure we're in the best position possible to get it done and then all five linemen at tight end usually somebody involved, also receivers.

I told our team: This open date next week, next week, a lot of that (indiscernible) football is just doing one thing and that's blocking well. And so we've got to continue to grow in that regard as well.

Q. Just reevaluate your team after the first five games, what did you like and what (inaudible) your team?
COACH CUTCLIFFE: We love the resiliency of our team. We love our team speed. It's very evident that we've got a lot of people that can run. We've been consistent for the most part all year long. We're not going to let one game -- we didn't play as well as we could have played in any form at Virginia Tech, but we didn't play awful. They just played extremely well and we didn't play well enough.

I think our team can find a way to be consistent. We've got a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball and we've got outstanding leadership.


Today’s Q & A With David Cutcliffe

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Obviously this is our biggest test to date and the best team we've played, a team we're very familiar with, a program we're very familiar with. I don't think there's anybody that you can respect more than the way they do things, have done things. I think Justin Fuente has just been tremendous there. Bud Foster is an icon in the business.

This is the thing -- the benchmark. This is where you find out what kind of program you've got. Our guys have practiced hard. We'd better, because we're going to be in for a big challenge, obviously, this Saturday night.

I'll take questions.

Q. Bud Foster and obviously the stability that he's brought to the defensive coordinator's role, you had some stability there with Coach Knowles. How would you evaluate how you guys have transitioned with Ben and Matt in those roles this season?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, it's a unique circumstance, and I realized that as I did an evaluation -- Jim Knowles and I talked a lot about this when Jim -- when he was offered the job at Oklahoma State, he and I were on the road together recruiting. You know, I did a lot of thinking.

But the reason that we went co-defensive coordinators is the quality of the people that we have in Ben and Matt and the quality of the rest of the staff, Derek Jones and Lanier Goethie. So we're at a point where we're still growing in that regard, but we clearly defined their roles. It is a transition, but our players were very familiar with both coaches. We have had a lot of stability in this program, so that helps a great deal.

We certainly wouldn't be the same without Jim Knowles. There's no question about that. But we have continued to try every year to grow and build on what we're doing, and I think Ben Albert and Matt Guerrieri have done a great job of doing that.

Q. Is one of the biggest challenges they and you have faced is the injury situation in the secondary, just having to plug different guys in and switch roles and such?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, it was the most unique thing. It started, obviously, at Northwestern, and then it escalated at Baylor. It's been unique. It's a great tribute to our assistant coaches. They've recruited well. We do have some really good young players in the secondary, and they're performing at a high level. They hopefully have -- when you come in here, you develop great practice habits, and so if it does happen, that makes it a little easier to adjust.

But very proud of our -- not only our staff in that regard but proud of our players, you know, just managing adversity. And there will be more to come, not only here playing football but in life. I am proud of them. We've just got to continue along that path.

Q. I'm writing a story about the nomadic lifestyle of assistant coaches, and wondering if there isn't a little bit of a trend toward giving a little more security to assistants by longer contracts, and a second part of the question, do you think there's -- have you ever seen anything really unusual happen within the style of jumping from one program to another?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, I think it's been a long-standing trend for certain people. When I was a younger assistant, a young assistant at the University of Tennessee, we were working without contracts, period, not one year. Just no contract. We had a pretty revolving door. I was there for 17 years, and the number of different assistant coaches that I worked with was in the upper 30s.

I never -- I think that's sometimes personal preference. I think there are a lot of people -- I think it's problematic to people because I do think, and I tell young coaches this all the time, be where your feet are. I've known a lot of people in the industry that were always trying to get the next job, spending more time trying to get the next job than doing a great job with the one they've got.

I do believe that if you have assistant coaches that are committed to your program, they're doing what they should be doing, I think they should earn longer term contracts. Two- and three-year contracts are becoming more commonplace. Buyouts are now more commonplace for assistant coaches because with that security goes a price with it, and if the university is going to commit to that, most universities now are going to require some form of buyout where people don't just jump.

So it's an interesting era in football. It's changed quite a bit since I got into it.

Q. Anything really unusual that stands out to you that happened along the way, like owning three houses at one time or --
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I mean, I can tell you this: It was interesting, guys I worked with that came from California that sold houses were shocked what they could buy out east. They were in mansions in my mind. That certainly happened. But I know Derek Jones on our staff, between being a graduate assistant for us at Ole Miss and then kind of jumping around, he had a couple of homes and was -- you're trying to lease homes and you're not there, and it certainly can end up being a nightmare.

I've always -- I guess maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I've always liked being in a place, particularly when our children were young, trying to raise our children in some form of normalcy. So it's an interesting study. I think that's a great idea to write an article about.

Q. If you look at the way they struggled defensively in the secondary against Old Dominion, when you're looking at that, are you seeing schematic breakdowns, guys just getting beat, or what did you make of that?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I would say for the biggest part, it's an outlier, and that's taking nothing away from ODU. Good gracious, they made great plays and they were ready and well-coached. But everything just kind of fell right. I mean, literally just fell right. You hate to call anything luck, but it was like, okay, you play zone, they scrambled and then just found a way to make a gain to keep a drive alive. You play man, the ball just dropped down right in the exact right spot. I mean, it literally was like that.

I've watched Virginia Tech defense for a long time now. It is storied, as we all know, its excellence in athletes, its excellence in coaching strategy and scheme. So it's just one game. Really, honestly, that's the honest answer I can give you.

Q. As you watch them, No. 94, their defensive end, who they dismissed from the team, are there moments that you're prepping for a game and you see him and think, man, I'm glad he's not going to be somebody I have to deal with?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I've got too many -- there's 10 others, 11 others that you're worried about. I think he was a really fine player. I don't know the young man at all. But there's no question he was an outstanding football player.

Q. I'm just wondering if there's maybe a right word or description to kind of nail down the energy or vibe amongst your guys just going into a national TV game? I'm sure they obviously know what's at stake, but if there's one thing you've taken away from their energy this week.
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, I think that's a really good point because I have watched it. I think our program has grown from different points where we had big games that you worried about getting too hyper, too into the moment as opposed to preparing for a ballgame. I think right now what I would say is focused. These kind of games should create focus, but that's what I've seen, and hopefully that carries over into Saturday night.

Q & A with David Cutcliffe

Opening Statement -

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: I think it's been good for us, really a shorter August than maybe we're used to having in years past with 25 practices, but I think because of the opponent, the quality of Army, a team that won 10 games and it's no accident, and our players have been intense, they've worked hard at preparing well, I do believe they're ready to play. I know they're ready to play a game. They're tired of hitting each other. It's going to be difficult with the offense they run. They led the country a year ago in 3rd down conversions and 4th down. Got to get stops where we can, and then offensively we'd better be efficient when we have it.

Q. To speak on the wide receivers, Johnathan, T.J., Chris and company, just what you can say coming through fall camp with the weapons that are out there for Daniel Jones and what you're taking away from the wide receiver group?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I'll tell you, they're veteran. Obviously, you just mentioned three seniors, Aaron Young, a junior, is a big strong target who has had his best camp. Johnathan Lloyd has had probably the best camp of all of them. But T.J. coming back is the leading receiver in the ACC in the number of catches. It's just veteran people.

What I like the most, Gerad Parker is a veteran coach, but they really set a tempo on the practice field, all of them. We've got some talented young people in Scott Bracey and got three talented young freshmen, but their work ethic has been outstanding.

I think Daniel is excited about the amount of time they got together during the summer on their own. So it looked -- I mean, they really, you can tell they look very comfortable with Daniel, and Daniel is very comfortable with them.

Q. I know that you and I have spoken about Daniel a lot, but you've worked with so many different quarterbacks, so many different calibers and talents and whatnot. What can you say about working with Daniel Jones? And with all of the work that you've had with quarterbacks around this country that have had a lot of success, where does he stand out and kind of stack up in your opinion with all of the work that you've done?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, the physical parts of it, he is really physically gifted. He's got a big arm. He's got great brains, he's got a great touch. His accuracy is really, really good. I think he's learning at a rate that most of our guys have learned. It's been fun to have him two years as a starter. It's not an accident. He's had some really big wins. He's played hurt. He's tough. He is a very smart young man. I think his football IQ is really growing. As he's played more, he really understands some of the things you've got to do to be successful consistently.

And then one of the things that I think you always look for in your quarterbacks and as a third-year starter, he certainly has taken charge. He is much more demonstrative, and he knows how to run our offense, but he also knows what to expect from his teammates, and I think we'll benefit from that this fall.

Q. What's your assessment of your run defense heading into that game against the Army rushing attack?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, that one is so different. A year ago, we did a solid job against them. We held them scoreless the second half. They only scored 14 points on us. I think we're better than we've been up front physically. We've got very veteran linebackers, but it doesn't make it any easier. They've got a new quarterback that probably will throw it a little more. They've got their fullbacks back, which makes it -- that's where all option attacks start, and in my opinion, they do the best job of all the option teams attacking you with their fullback and with their quarterback. So they minimize their mistakes.

So when you get right down to it, what you just said is the most critical question: Can we defend them? We can't count on getting any gifts from them, but can we be physical, defeat blocks and make tackles? We'll know more about that after Friday night, but I think we are more equipped than we've been.

Q. I know you've talked in the off-season about your confidence in both the offensive and defensive lines being better this year for you. How have you seen both of them progress through the fall, now that the season is ready to start?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, I've had good conversations with Ben Albert and Jim Bridge as we've competed with each other. I've gone to a lot of those drills, and we've spent a lot of time against each other, a lot of inside drill work, a lot of broken-down live work, where it's full speed pass rush but one-on-one, full speed run blocking half line. It's been fun because it's been a war.

We are more physically physical. We're stronger, and it very much shows. Our strength staff has done a great job. We made an emphasis -- we went to a four-day lift week, and we did it through our entire cycle, and in trying to become more physical. We play in such a physical league. I'm anxious -- it's hard to tell when you evaluate it against each other, but it certainly looks and feels more physical, and I'm hoping that is true when we get on the field with Army Friday night.

Q. Daniel Jones is already getting a lot of talk about a potential round 1 guy if he comes out in the draft this year. What do you see of his ability to shut that noise out and kind of focus on the task at hand?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, he's an unusual young man. I promise you, he doesn't hear any noise. He is so tuned in to being a teammate. Daniel has never really been about himself. Every bit of his being is about being a part of the team. And that's really our program. We've got other guys that are underclassmen that that may well happen. If it does, I've been around it a lot before. We'll help them make what is the best decision for them. But we don't have to worry about that for a while. The fastest way to make that not happen is to be distracted, and so I think he has been tremendous this spring.

Another thing I would tell young players all over this country, if you play this game trying to keep from getting hurt, you're going to get hurt. I've seen it too many years. I've done it a long time. We've met about it with all of these guys, or I did, met with them back in May after spring practice, and we feel great about where we are with that.

Q. You're the elder statesman of the conference, and I hope this doesn't happen for a while, but when you finally hang up that whistle for the last time, in one sentence, what would you like your legacy to be as a person and as a coach?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I would hope that maybe if there's one sentence, it would just be that he did things the right way. I don't know that you have to kind of get beyond that, but that's what we've tried to do, and that we've cared about people. I think probably through the years, what I would -- the other part of it is trying to raise young coaches because they're going to affect a lot of folks; boy, he had a lot of good people work for him, and that is important to me as a legacy.

Cut is Staying Put at Duke per ESPN

Cutcliffe has some time in at Duke - image property of Blue Devil Nation.net

Unless you have been in hibernation or are not a sports fan, you know that Tennessee recently fumbled the handing of hiring or firing Greg Schiano.  Okay, maybe he was neither hired nor fired but let me add for emphasis that it was a hot mess.

Now, sources say they reached out to David Cutcliffe who has already balked at the opportunity in the past.  Make no mistake about it, part of Cutcliffes heart is in Tennessee where he met his wife.

But the Vol Nation has had horrible timing in hires of late and their track record of success has been abysmal with choices.  Had they offered Cutcliffe at the right time, meaning years ago -- perhaps he would be there today,

Coach Cutcliffe poses with Duke AD Kevin White - copyright BDN Photo

Anyhow the story is making the rounds on ESPN.  But Cutcliffe seems likely to end his coaching career at Duke.  He has invested a lot of time in building a program that will soon get its fifth bowl invitation in six years.  And the university has invested in him with facilities in a mutual plan for improvement.

FWIW, Tennessee is now flying a group to Stillwater, Oklahoma to entertain Mike Gundy.

Duke will know where they are going bowling this coming weekend.  As for Tennessee, a storied program continues to struggle in their efforts to rebuild.

Duke 31, Wake Forest 23: Postgame

WINSTON-SALEM - The Blue Devils are headed to the postseason after securing a 31-23 win over Wake Forest on Saturday.

Head Coach David Cutcliffe: After falling down 14-3, the Blue Devils fought back to claim the victory and bowl eligibility, something he called "critical" for the program.

QB Daniel Jones: 25-44, 346 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions. 37 yards rushing, 1 touchdown.

CB Mark Gilbert: 2 interceptions, 1 pass break-up

Center Austin Davis: the senior anchor to Duke's offensive line will get to play one more game as a Blue Devil.


Coach Cutcliffe Post-Game: Duke 20, Virginia 13

DURHAM - Duke Head Coach Cutcliffe was clearly pleased with his team's effort in a 20-13 Homecoming win on over Virginia on Saturday. He pointed out his defense's 10 pass break-ups, the play of the offensive line, and an emotional boost from Shaquille Powell as keys to the victory. Duke is now 6-1, tied for 1st place in the ACC Coastal Division, and bowl-eligible for the 3rd straight year as they head into a second bye week.