Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe met with members of the media virtually on Monday afternoon for his weekly press conference.
The Blue Devils travel to Atlanta to face off against Georgia Tech. The contest will be broadcast on RSN with Tom Werme, James Bates, and Lyndsay Rowley on the call. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. The game can also be heard on the Blue Devil Sports Network from Learfield IMG College through the TuneIn app or goduke.com
David Cutcliffe Duke Football Head Coach (Ref.: Opening Statement)
“Alright. Well good afternoon. Let me first comment on that, finals and football. Exams. They don’t necessarily go well together. I’m really not sure what day it is since we hadn’t played. When you said Monday that was a reminder, we did have to practice this morning because we got a little window amongst the finals. It’s been a very unique, three weeks we will go without a game. I think our staff and our players have handled it really well. The focus this morning was outstanding.
It’s a challenge. 2020 has been a challenge, so what else is new. This morning I was looking back at Wake Forest game week schedules and there we had the Wednesday schedule all planned out, all scripted out, and it never happened. So, I’m at a point where I’m taking it one day at a time. I really feel good about us having the ability to go to Atlanta and play this week.
Number one….Georgia Tech’s a much better football team than most people are going to think based on records and different things and I think we are too. We’ve got a big challenge in front of us, a very well coached team in every phase. A talented team. We feel like we’ve gotten better during this break. So I know our guys are ready to go play some football.”
(Ref. On the decision to not make up the Wake Forest game)
“Well, first, I was very complimentary to our team as to what they’ve done. We’ve been able to play as a regularly scheduled circumstance, even had one added to us early because we were available and ready to play. Certainly, talked with our team about what was lying in front of us. As I looked at it this, we’re out of school, we’re at a point to where these guys have been in single rooms. I just didn’t feel it was a healthy thing to do to have two weeks again, coming off after sitting three weeks that it would be the right thing to do to our staff, to our squad. I told our players when we started this year, their well-being, their safety would be at the forefront of everything we did. And I think that made it pretty clear that the best decision we could make was to forego playing on December 19th.
“Nothing they had done had predicated that. All along I asked if we can find some way to move to the 12th which would be more appropriate for a team that’s done what they’ve been asked to do all year. And we got a no on that. And so with that, we just decided that it was in the best interest of everybody in Duke football just to go ahead and let the game not be played.”
(Ref.: On looking to get another game on the 12th)
“We looked at all of those options. And it wasn’t an option. So, it is what it is. And you know players do love to play. But you know when you get into all the way to December 19th when your whole schedule says you’re finishing the fifth, it just didn’t fit. But yeah, we looked at every option and tried to work every angle or option we could. And it just didn’t work out.”
(Ref.: On the cancelation coming late in the season and being able to get nearly a full schedule in)
“Yeah, I think it was a remarkable start. You know there were only a couple of games or a couple of teams that had issues. We were able to fill in on one. And when we got a call right before we’re playing Notre Dame that we’re going to be playing Virginia. It worked out fine and we’ve gotten to play a lot of football. I think it was remarkable what players across the league did to be able to make that work. I think it goes into this other thing about December 19th.
Also, in the back of my mind, we don’t know where this is headed. In the state of North Carolina, or we’ve got guys from all over the place having to travel home. You don’t know. I think some of the other leagues or people that are trying to play. I think things are going to get tough down the stretch. And I’ve got my fingers crossed that we stay healthy and the opponents we have stay healthy and that we can complete a college football season. But yeah, I think there’s been a lot of sacrifices made by players everywhere. I respect that fact that these young men have taken it and found a way to make a good college football season happen.”
(Ref.: On both Duke and Georgia Tech coming off long breaks)
“Yeah, I think there’s going to be a little bit of both. Without a doubt it’s such an unusual circumstance. And you don’t know how much – they’ve had a month off – how much they’ve adjusted or changed. And I think we both have certainly tried to continue to work and to grow as a program. So, it’s a little different than an opening game in the fact that we’ve practiced a lot of football, played a lot of football at this point. It might be a little bit more like a bowl game which can have a little different start so you hope you take care of the football and play well early, usually is really important in any bowl game. But it’ll have somewhat of that feeling to me, more than anything else.”
(Ref.: On possible position changes during the open weeks)
“I’m not going to announce any at this time. But the time off has been good to take a look at some things that can build depth and strengthen our team. So, we do feel good about that.”
(Ref.: On the possibility of Duke and Georgia Tech playing last weekend)
“It did not really come up. I thought about it, but it didn’t come up. What went through my mind is, why don’t we make hay while the sun shines here. And I had said something to people administratively because of what we saw happen out west in the Pac-12 with Cal and UCLA. I guess they got two days notice and found a way to play a game. But I guess that wasn’t in the cards. So you know, it didn’t work out that way. But yeah, I had the thought you know always trying to get it done when you can as soon as you can.”
(Ref.: On the possibility of all college football coming together under a single leader)
“Yeah, I don’t think that would hurt at all. I’ve always been a proponent of that, some form of a commissioner. I think it would help to make this a little more of a unified approach. It’s been very difficult and splintered, in my opinion, up to this point. I know basketball is looking at the same types of things. When it’s such an independent approach and kind of what we’ve grown into as a conference approach. Then even within a conference, not totally synchronized. So yeah, I’ve always been in favor of that because I think it would make a huge difference as to evening the playing field, putting people on the same level and in the guidelines, not talking about just a pandemic, but the guidelines that we would follow would all be the same.”
(Ref.: On the possibility of a bowl berth)
“Well that would depend on how much of a delay there would be because again, it goes back to the safety of the players. Obviously we’d be thrilled with – and I’m not even sure that’s a possibility. Anything’s possible in 2020, let me back up. But it would again, just be the period of time. Have to talk to our people as far as protocol and quarantining on a return when you come back from being away at home. All of those things would enter in because again, the health, well-being, the conditioning level of your team, all of that would have to enter into that kind of thought process.”
(Ref.: On the possibility of some student-athletes coming back with extra eligibility)
“I think it’s a great opportunity for certain guys. We’ve had conversations with players. I should say, I’ve had conversations with players. And that’s an option with certain guys. What I think and what I’ve told players you’d never do that unless you were just absolutely excited about not just playing games, but January, February, spring practice, the grind in the weight room and winter conditioning runs. What you don’t want to do is ever see a player return and not be all in because it’s not good for anyone at that point. I think it’s appropriate with what everyone’s been through, and it’s going to make things unique because you forget sometimes that the younger guys are gaining a year too. At the end of their time. If you’re a freshman or a redshirt freshman, it’s going to be a unique circumstance to try to count your 85 scholarships.
“I think this year, if a guy returns, he doesn’t necessarily have to count in your 85 if he’s a senior after that it’ll post back up to 85. So, it’s just going to be a unique few years that will help us keep remembering 2020.”
(Ref.: On the season being a successful one even with the ups and downs)
“Absolutely, we’ve played a lot of football. There have been a lot of weekends that a lot of college football fans have been happy. Players have been happy. Coaches have been happy. I’m certain that administrators feel the same way. It’s been a huge positive. I think we all knew going in that it would not be seamless, but it’s been pretty remarkable that all of these young people have done so well and been so disciplined in their way of living that we’ve been able to play as many college football games to this point as we have. So really proud of the Atlantic Coast Conference and all of the members, all of the players and all of the coaches.”
(Ref. On his impressions of Georgia Tech)
“Yeah, they play extremely hard. They’re talented. They’re really well coached. You see their coaching influence in all three phases. They’re a young team in most places. But really a well-coached, good football team. And people think that’s coach talk, it’s not. I’m not going to compliment a team if I don’t think they’re an extremely well-coached team, but they certainly are.”