Tag Archives: Michael Tauiliili

Duke’s Michael Tauliliili Named 2nd Team All American

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DURHAM, N.C. – Duke senior linebacker Michael Tauiliili has been named Second Team All-America by the Walter Camp Foundation, the organization announced on Thursday evening.
“Given the history behind the Walter Camp Foundation, I know this is a prestigious honor,” said Tauiliili. “I know it dates back a long time and it is an honor and privilege to be named an All-America. I commed my coaches, teammates and everybody surrounding Duke football in helping me make the transition physically, mentally and emotionally from last season into the player I was this year.”
auiliili, a 5-11, 235-pound native of Houston, Texas, becomes the first Duke linebacker to receive All-America honors since Mike Junkin was a second team selection in 1986.  Other Blue Devil linebackers to garner All-America accolades include Bob Matheson (1st team in 1966), Dick Biddle (3rd team in 1970) and Keith Stoneback (3rd team in 1974).  Tauiliili is Duke’s first All-America choice overall since punter Brian Morton was honored with a second team citation following the 2000 campaign.
In 2008, Tauiliili led Duke in tackles (140), interceptions (4), pass breakups (5), quarterback pressures (5) and caused fumbles (3).  His 140 stops led the ACC and matched the eighth-highest single-season total in school history.  He added 13.0 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery and was a primary reason that Duke made significant improvement in scoring defense (-9.8), total defense (-67.4), rushing defense (-28.7) and passing defense (-38.7) while facing the second-most difficult schedule in the nation — a ledger that included 10 bowl eligible teams and the top-ranked FCS squad in James Madison.
A First Team All-ACC selection this season, Tauiliili finished third in the league’s Defensive Player of the Year voting after captaining a Duke defense that held three opponents to less than 10 points for the first time since 1976.  He is the only linebacker in the ACC to rank among the league’s top 10 players in four defensive statistical categories.

Tauiliili played 46 career games at Duke and finished with 434 tackles, 46.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 quarterback sacks, seven interceptions and eight pass breakups.  On Duke’s career charts, he ranks fourth in tackles and third in tackles for loss.[/private]

Tauiliili named ACC Player of the Week

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DURHAM, N.C. – Duke senior linebacker Michael Tauiliili garnered ACC Player of the Week honors after registering a career-high 20 tackles and his team-leading fourth interception in the Blue Devils’ 28-20 loss to North Carolina this past Saturday.
The league accolade is the second this season for Tauiliili, who also was honored following his 16-tackle, one-interception outing versus Virginia.
A native of Houston, Texas, Tauiliili posted the most tackles in a game since Terrell Smith had 22 hits versus Rice in 2003 and his 20 tackles are the most by an ACC player this year.  Also against the Tar Heels, Tauiliili added 2.5 tackles for loss to push his season total to 13.0.
Tauiliili closed the regular season as the ACC’s leading tackler with 140 stops, a total that matches the eighth-highest single-season total in Duke history.
The conference’s complete list of weekly honorees includes Tauiliili (Defensive Lineman), N.C. State’s Russell Wilson (Rookie), Georgia Tech’s Roddy Jones (Offensive Back), Virginia Tech’s Ryan Shuman (Offensive Lineman), Boston College’s Robert Francois (Defensive Back) and Boston College’s Billy Flutie (Specialist).

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Duke looking to win back-to-back road games

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Duke travels to Winston-Salem this Saturday for an afternoon showdown with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Wake enters the game as a 7.5 point favorite despite coming off back-to-back losses to Maryland and Miami. The Demon Deacons have lost three of their last four games after opening the season with three victories. Wake Forest has been ranked as high as number 15 in the USA Today poll this season, but fell out of the top 25 after their Week 8 loss to Maryland. Duke will be attempting to win back-to-back road games for the first time since the 1994 season.

Both teams enter the game with four wins and three losses, and they have played two common opponents: Navy and Miami. Duke beat Navy, 41-31, in Durham, while Wake Forest lost, 24-17, at home in Winston-Salem. Both teams lost to Miami. Duke dropped a 49-31 decision at home, while Wake Forest lost, 16-10, in Coral Gables. In discussing the game, Duke Coach David Cutcliffe said, “The challenges continue to get bigger – we’re playing a Wake Forest team that’s very talented, a very experienced team. They can beat you a lot of ways, they can beat you with their defense, they can beat you with their kicking game, and they can certainly beat you with their offense.”

Wake Forest is struggling on offense and is currently last in the ACC in scoring at 17.4 points per game. The Demon Deacons are ranked 10th in total offense averaging 303.7 yards per game. Like Duke, they have struggled to run the football. Wake is 10th in rushing offense averaging 109 yards per game on the ground. Over their first six games, Wake Forest ran out of the spread offensive set, but against Miami they shifted to the Power I and rushed the ball 52 times for 195 yards. Tailback Josh Adams ran for a career high 111 yards on 21 carries. This complicates Duke’s defensive preparation for the game as they must be prepared to defend both offensive sets on Saturday.

The Wake Forest players held a players only meeting this week to discuss the recent tough losses and ensure everyone was focused toward the five remaining games. At Tuesday’s press conference, Coach Jim Grobe discussed the meeting, “Our seniors are running out of time. We’ve got five games left. I think they feel a little bit of pressure right now to perform down the stretch.” Coach Grobe also discussed the spread offense saying it hurt them against Navy and Maryland, and then stated the offense wasn’t diverse enough in the loss to Miami. “A little bit of balance would be good.”

Duke has allowed opponents to score 21.1 points per game while gaining 341 yards. They have given up an average of 193 yards through the air and 148 on the ground per game. Duke’s defense gave up over 200 yards on the ground to Georgia Tech (224) and Navy (207), but was much stingier in their other five games by allowing an average of 122 yards rushing per game. Shutting down Wake’s rushing game will be a priority so Duke can win the Time of Possession battle and keep the defense rested and effective through the Fourth Quarter.

Linebackers Michael Tauiliili and Vincent Rey are number one and three in the ACC, respectively, for tackles. They will need big games this weekend to ensure the Demon Deacons continue to struggle offensively. Duke has 11 interceptions on the year but injuries are starting to take a toll on the secondary. Leon Wright aggravated a hamstring problem against Vanderbilt and Lee Butler is banged up. Defensive end Ayanga Okpokowuruk recorded two quarterback sacks in the Vanderbilt game and he and the rest of the defensive line are going to have to apply pressure to Wake Forest Quarterback Riley Skinner. Duke has recorded 13 sacks on the season.

Duke has struggled in the Red Zone this year and must improve in this area to be successful in November. Over the first seven games of the season, Duke is last in the ACC in red zone offense scoring 18 times out of 29 opportunities. Coach Cutcliffe has stated this team will be defined by their performance in November and if Duke is going to win games against ACC opponents in November they must take better advantage of scoring opportunities. Last week Duke blocked a punt and took possession on Vanderbilt’s 13 yard line and ended up with zero points after a missed field goal. Earlier in the game, Michael Tauiliili intercepted a pass in Vanderbilt territory, but Duke failed to convert the turnover into points.

In an earlier interview with Blue Devil Nation, Duke Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis discussed the game, “I think consistency and execution will be the key in this game and the team that has the fewest mistakes will win.” It might be more accurate to say the team that takes advantage of their opponent’s mistakes will win.[/private]

Tough defense drops Vanderbilt 10 – 7

[private]Chris Rwabukamba intercepted a Mackenzie Adams pass at the one yard line with 46 seconds left in the game to thwart a Vanderbilt comeback attempt and preserve a 10 – 7 Duke victory. With the road victory, the Blue Devils improve to 4 – 3 on the year and end a six game losing streak against the Commodores. For Coach David Cutcliffe, it is his first road victory since taking over the helm at Duke.

Duke was unable to capitalize on Vanderbilt mistakes throughout the game. Michael Tauiliili intercepted Adams on Vanderbilt’s third play from scrimmage but Duke fumbled the snap on a field goal attempt and came away with zero points. Just before halftime, Duke blocked a Vanderbilt punt and took possession on the Commodores 13 yard line. A fumbled snap and penalty on the offense were followed by a missed 43 field goal attempt. In the third quarter, Vanderbilt fumbled a punt resulting in Duke starting off from the Vanderbilt 15 yard line. Duke failed to move the ball as Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis was sacked but this time Nick Maggio converted the field goal and Duke expanded their lead to 10 – 0.

Duke’s defense shutdown Vanderbilt’s offense for most of the game with the Commodores only points coming on a 79 yard pass from Adams to wide receiver Sean Walker. For the game, Duke held Vanderbilt to 291 total yards and held the Commodores to 81 rushing yards. Duke was able to consistently pressure Quarterback Adams sacking him four times to compliment the two interceptions.

On offense, Duke achieved success with the short pass play. Thaddeus Lewis was 21 – 36 for 222 yards and a touchdown. Four Blue Devils caught multiple passes: Eron Riley caught nine passes for 83 yards, Johnny Williams caught four for 39 yards, Tony Jackson caught three for 74 yards and a touchdown, and Donovan Varner caught two for 12 yards. Duke struggled to run the ball and was held to 28 yards on the ground. Thaddeus Lewis was sacked five times for 37 yards with the yards being counted against the running game.

This was a big win for the Duke football team. With five games remaining the Blue Devils need at least two more wins and possibly three wins in order to secure a bid to a post season bowl game. If Duke is going to win those two or three more games this season, they must continue to improve week-to-week. The red zone offense is one area where Duke struggled today and Coach Cutcliffe will certainly address that issue in practice this week.

Next up for the Blue Devils is a trip to Winston-Salem to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3). Duke has not won a conference game on the road since beating North Carolina 30 -22 on November 22, 2003. Duke has already broken a couple of streaks this season and they will be looking to end the road conference game losing streak against Wake Forest next Saturday.[/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]

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]