Duke’s coach was already back at work beginning his breakdown of the Blue Devils next opponent Miami as well as looking at the NC State game tape, trying to decipher what went wrong and what didn’t.
“After looking at the tape I’m really pleased with our effort in all three phases,” Cutcliffe said. “I thought we played the entire game extremely hard. North Carolina State played very well and very hard.”
“We’ve got a lot of things that we can improve upon. We did somethings well obviously, but we did somethings that we haven’t done or that we’ve done better.”
Cutcliffe had a lot of praise for the Blue Devils defense, who aside from a few explosive plays held the NC State offense in check and forced three turnovers including two DeVon Edwards interceptions which were returned for touchdowns. As a result of his play, which included a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Edwards was named national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
While the defense continues to rake in praise, it is the offense that has for the last two games been sputtering, thanks large in part to poor play at quarterback. Starter Anthony Boone has thrown seven interceptions over the last two games, and the offense has not been able to move the ball with any consistency. Cutcliffe addressed the quarterback situation and said that you can expect to see both Boone and Brandon Connette play for the rest of the season.
“Offensively it was a matter of inconsistency that set us back. I didn’t think we played as well overall on offense. Even more so than maybe than Virginia Tech at times in third down and some other areas,” Cutcliffe said. “All things I think we can address and we’ll have to to try and continue to be successful.
“It is going to take both of those guys for us to win. You’ll see both of them. We haven’t made any decision or are overly concerned about who will start. We do believe to find their rhythm and our rhythm we’re going to have to look at both of them.”
Cutcliffe addressed what many fans have been wondering about, as well as analysist: why has Duke not continued to try to run the ball.
“A lot of it is the defensive deployments. Putting more people in the box, actually challenging us to throw the ball and so we, by design, try to take what we believe they are giving us,” Cutcliffe said. “It is something that we’ve talked about. Our team seems to play better when we get in a rhythm of running the football. And we certainly have got to address that regardless of how anyone lines up. We can’t let people talk us out of running the football.”
There were no new updates on injured players like Ross Cockrell, Dwayne Norman and Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo, who didn’t play against the Wolfpack. Cutcliffe said decisions were made after pregame warm ups to not play them in order to not sacrifice one game and potentially lose them for more games. They said they would know more after Tuesday’s practice about the status of those players.
Cutcliffe said he hasn’t completed his evaluation of Miami but knows that in order to beat the Hurricanes who, like Duke, are still vying for the ACC Coastal Division, the Blue Devils will have to player better. He also indicated that he didn’t think that Miami’s latest swoon of two straight losses will have any bearing on the game.
“I’m watching Miami and I’m not deep deep into it. I’m certainly very familiar with them. We’ve got to play much better than in the past against Miami to have any chance,” Cutcliffe said. “I don’t think anything that has happened previous to this makes any difference. Its just a matter of us playing better than we’ve played and we have to play really well to have a chance to stay on the field with Miami.”
When asked how he keeps his team grounded when they are in a position to win the Coastal Division title and not look ahead, Cutcliffe said it was pretty easy.
“All I have to do is turn the tape on and they certainly aren’t looking past Miami. We’re not dreaming about the future. We haven’t beaten Miami since we’ve been at Duke. A lot of our guys have been involved in a lot of those ball games. They have great respect not only for this team but this program. We certainly aren’t going to be looking past anything.”