David Cutcliffe Press Conference Quotes: Charlotte


head coach David Cutcliffe spoke with media following practice at camp


DURHAM – Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe met with members of the media on Monday afternoon for his weekly press conference.

The Blue Devils travel to Charlotte on Friday for their season opener. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network with Chris Lewis, Corey Chavous and Justin Walters on the call. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. The game can also be heard on the Blue Devil Sports Network from Learfield through the TuneIn app or goduke.com


David Cutcliffe Duke Football Head Coach

(Ref.: Opening Statement)

Well, I welcome everybody back in person, although nobody knows who anybody is since we’re all masked. Our team, based on yesterday’s practice, is really excited to get to play. This started back for them in January, and they’ve been able to stay together and be together, for the most part, throughout that. I expect we’re going to play quite a few people. It’ll be interesting to see how many when it’s done. I’m not talking about in regards of score, I’m talking about playing people regardless. People have earned some things and we’re excited about seeing ourselves compete. We’re playing a team that is uniquely different. They’re going to be well coached. Will Healy and his staff are creative. I think they’ve added, you don’t know anything for sure, but looks like seven to 10 transfers that could be starters. New punter, new snapper, in the kicking game. It’s truly an opener and you have to adjust well as it goes on. They will be a good football team and opening up on the road is always a challenge, a focus. The biggest thing we’ve got to do is focus on Duke and how well and clean we can play. That’s what we’ll be looking for in this first game.”


(Ref.: On how much Duke can take away from last season’s game against Charlotte)

“I mean, they have different players so it’s really hard to have any idea what you’re going to see. You remember a year ago we went through four openers. We didn’t have any film of people in our first four games. We were discussing that how hard openers are. You do the best you can, but you can’t guess. You just prepare for all the things you’ve seen.”


(Ref.: On some player hometowns being impacted by Hurricane Ida)

“I haven’t heard of anything. Obviously, we’ve been praying. We have Coach Calvin McGee, who is a New Orleans resident. This is a difficult thing any time, but certainly praying for all of the people down there. I haven’t had a player tell me that anybody has had any issues with their homes or otherwise.”


(Ref.: On differences of culture in a program last season due to the pandemic)

“Well, I think when you look at the chemistry of the culture of a program, there’s some carryover always, but it’s also a year-to-year circumstance. Every team in college is uniquely different. When you go through no spring ball in March, as we normally would, and then you don’t return until later in July, what is the culture? Where are you? And then you have a certain number of injuries. I think all of these guys felt that a year ago. That’s kind of what I said when I opened up, this started back in January. I think the reason they’re talking about it is that they’ve cherished this time they’ve had. They realized in 2020 how much they missed that. There’s no question that was a big part of what suffered with our team for the 2020 season. We didn’t even have to bring it up. It’s just been important to them. I think they are themselves important to each other and that’s a good thing to hear that they are talking about it.”


(Ref.: On what Michael Reese has shown during camp)

“Michael has got some fast twitch. He’s quick. He’s very strong. What he’s done is he’s really changed his strength levels since he’s been here while maintaining his quickness. He’s a good pass rusher off the edge. He can run. He’s a dynamic effort guy and just playing at a high speed. We needed that input from him, and he has provided that.”


(Ref.: On Gary Smith III being availability to play)

“Gary Smith is day to day. He’s moving around. He’s earned the opportunity to be listed as the starter until we find out that he can’t. He had a heck of a start to his camp and a great spring. We’ll see where it ends up. I’m always optimistic.”


(Ref.: On the overall health of the team)

“Really, really good. I’m excited about where we are in that regard and, better knock on wood because we’re still going to put pads on tomorrow in practice. Tomorrow is one of those Tuesday-Wednesday days, the confusing one for us. I was talking with Art (Chase) and Kat (Castner) about it yesterday. We had our Tuesday practice on Sunday, but it was actually Monday. So whatever y’all want to name that day, let me know. Y’all are journalists, come up with a good name.”


(Ref.: On vaccination rates and tough conversations surrounding the vaccine)

“Oh, not really. I think our guys early on wanted to be vaccinated. People have their choices and their reasons, and we respect that. We all know what we had to do a year ago. We weren’t here together for a reason and now we are in really another public health crisis. I still respect a family or a person’s religious reasons or medical reasons. That’s the two areas that you can opt out of it. I think our players were really enthusiastic about getting vaccinated as quickly as they could. I even get some of them asking me now about the third dose. So, yeah, I mean, it’s been really good for us, so we’ll see where it heads.”


(Ref.: On Jack Wohlabuagh and his return after missing 2020 due to injury)

“Jack’s been through a lot, as we know. We really tried to start him slow in camp and let him build his confidence and the length of time that he would go. It’s been fun to watch him enjoy getting back full speed, scrimmaging and live. He’s playing really well. We chart center snaps and location and not just grade their film. His snaps are 98 to 100 percent. He’s a big, powerful guy in there and he brings something special. We’ve got people playing good behind him. Addison Penn is a young guy that is basically a redshirt freshman. I can’t remember what any of them are now because the NCAA, I think they’re all freshmen. But anyway, he’s playing well and Casey Holman can play there as well as Kade Parmelley. We didn’t list everybody that could play center, but I feel good about that position and feel good about Jack’s health.”


(Ref.: On Gunnar Holmberg being named a team captain)

“Well, you could almost see it coming for all the right reasons. Gunnar’s commitment level has been incredible and it started last January in spring practice. His leadership through the summer was obvious. He took that role on, not trying to become a captain, just doing what he should do. I’m really proud for him, along with Jake Bobo and DeWayne Carter, all of it well earned. There were a lot of people that got votes, but those three just outdistanced. I think it’s good for me. I found it a comforting thing as I was looking at the votes, that when you’ve got the guy that’s helping make the decisions is your starting quarterback for the first time and that his teammates have that much confidence in him. So that vote of confidence, I think personally, will help him.”


(Ref.: The comparison of heading into the season in 2021 compared to 2020)

“Well, I think we’re all so into each other and the amount of work that’s gone in together. I don’t want to say survived, but it’s close to that a year ago. I think that we’ve been there picking each other up, investing in each other, not that the other team a year ago wasn’t trying to do that. We had a big opener on the road a year ago. I thought our guys did everything they could do. But I think this team has focused on their conditioning a lot more. It brings more confidence in that regard because, quite frankly, we’re far more conditioned and we were able to get to a year ago. It’s really daylight and dark in that regard.”


(Ref.: On replacing the pass rushing lost along the defensive line)

“Well, I go to each defensive lineman and I have conversations about that. Pass rush is technique, it’s effort, it’s ability. But, a lot of it is a mentality of getting there. You got about three seconds to do it, so you work at it every day and no different than anything else you do. I think that schematically you do some things different, too, because you have different personnel from year-to-year. We’ve been able to adjust and change and challenge that. One of the things we got to grade early is not just sacks, but what kind of pressure you put a quarterback under.”


(Ref.: On J’Marick Woods and his offseason work)

“J’Marick has really improved himself physically and his knowledge of the defensive scheme and his confidence level. I mean, back there, in our safety positions you’ve got to react like this [snapped his fingers]. They’ve got to be right. You can’t be fooled by run fakes and it’s all of a sudden pass. You have to have man-to-man discipline, zone discipline. He has worked so hard. I’ve watched J’Marick. He’s been over here on weekends when they were off, and I will run into him in the building and he’s doing some kind of footwork. I’ll see him in the speed and agility room by himself, or he’s over there watching tape. I like any player when it’s really important to them. Football’s important to him and his team is important to him and he fits our culture and fit who we are. I’m happy that he is playing at a high level.”


(Ref.:  On what he hopes to learn from the opener at Charlotte)

“Opening games will absolutely tell you about the discipline level, what you’ve accomplished as a coach, what your conditioning level really is, the ability to be able to sustain through 60 minutes focus. You try to do all of those things in practice. You get in the first game and probably as you go look and even watch a little bit. I got to watch Saturday, a lot of games are lost, not won, in openers. Are you going to do the things that you have to do, the discipline things not to beat yourselves? Then let’s see how well we play and what kind of playing ability we have. I think the biggest thing you find out are have you done all the little things as a coach to be disciplined and take care of the ball and be penalty free and all of those little things that are a real test in an opener.”


(Ref.: On the special teams unit)

“First of all, Kirk Benedict does an incredible job. We’ve got experienced and talented specialist Charlie Ham, Porter Wilson, John Taylor and Jackson Hubbard as a holder. I mean, it’s really fun to watch our guys. I like watching them practice and their pre practice routine because they are focused. They love it. They’re leaders in their own right in that regard. I like our return game. I like our folks. We’ve got a lot of experience back in the area of special teams and a lot of athleticism. I think that has a chance to be in a big edge for this 2021 Duke football team. 


(Ref.: On if he is looking for separation of players in the opener)

“Well, I’m not a big fan of gamers because gamers practice really well. It’s not hard to see what you expect. That’s kind of an old-fashioned deal. Coach, just let me get out there when the lights are on. No, the lights come on at practice a lot. I think this team’s deep. I think there are a lot of people that have played their way into, I look at it as played, but practiced their way into the opportunity to help contribute to win. I’m a firm believer if a guy is ready, you have to play him some and I think we got more people ready to play than what we’ve had. And that’s why I’m saying we’re going to play a number of people.”




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