Cutcliffe hoping Andrew Luck continues to grow his beard
David Cutcliffe is heading into his fourth year as the Duke head coach and encouraged about the future, but Cutcliffe is beginning to get tired of, “We’re close.”
Fortunately, the Duke roster has evolved from just 91 players (2008) to a current total of 112, which will finally allow Cutcliffe to practice with way he was accustomed to practicing at Ole Miss or Tennessee.
Cutcliffe told 620 The Zone this morning, “Here’s the thing I know. And this is the part that encourages me the most. We’re much better physically and our guys, this is the truth, are working as hard as they can possibly work to prepare. They have learned how to compete in the off-season. I can’t ask for anything more.”
“People get tired of people saying they’re close. Saying your close is saying you’re just not getting it done. We’re at a point where simply need to do or we don’t. If we don’t, we’ll shut our mouths and come back and go to work.”
This season, Jim Knowles takes over the defensive coordinator role. Knowles coached with Cutcliffe at Ole Miss in 2003 when the Rebels tied for the SEC Western Division title with LSU, then defeated Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
“Defensively, we’re still too young, but we’re not going to use that as an excuse. We can run and if you can run, then you have a chance. We’re not very big. What we do have at defense is competition at every position. Jim Knowles will make a significant difference in his leadership of our defense.”
Cutliffe also singled out co-offensive coordinator / offensive line coach Matt Luke for his day-to-day approach. Cutcliffe said, “(Matt) is one of the most consistently upbeat people. If you’re in a bad mood, just get in the car and go ride an hour with Matt. You’re gonna laugh and have a good time.”
Duke opens the season by hosting Richmond. A week later, Stanford comes to town. Cutcliffe joked, “I hope he (Andrew Luck) keeps his beard and it grows over his eyes, so he can’t see.”
The Heisman Trophy isn't the only award Luck is in contention for this season. Reportedly, the Stanford signal caller is in the running for the Geico Award...even a caveman can do it.
Jimbo: The difference between the SEC and ACC is a hill of beans
Jimbo Fisher just wrapped up a radio interview with the guys at 790 The Ticket in Atlanta.
It's hard to imagine any head coach in the country feeling better about their quarterback than Fisher.
Speaking about EJ Manuel, Fisher explained, “(Manuel) has the respect of his teammates and I think that’s the most important thing you can have as a quarterback.”
“He’s extremely competitive, has great intelligence, has the ability to process information, and is very physically gifted as a thrower and runner. He leads verbally and by example with his work ethic. He understands what it takes to be a champion, in my opinion. He exhibits all the qualities that a championship quality quarterback does.”
“He’s so athletic. He’s always on balance. He understands how to make decisions. He had great body control, which allows him to be accurate with the ball.”
Reflecting back on his first year, including a blowout loss at Oklahoma and two “last play” heartbreakers, Fisher noted, “We handled situations well. Our team and organization responded well. From that standpoint, it was a very successful season. I was very pleased with our staff and administration with how we handled the whole situation (first year).”
Fisher made an interesting statement regarding the ACC and SEC.
“Player-wise, this conference is as good as any conference in America. The difference between the SEC and ACC, as far as players, is a hill of beans. There’s not much difference.”
He wrapped with the talk by talking about the thing that he is most excited about with the 2011 Seminoles.
“The attitude is the thing that I’m happiest about our team…and they are a TEAM.”
Tracy Claeys: There's been 10 d-coordinators here in last 20 years
Minnesota defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys has four goals for the Gophers defense each week.
1. Hold the opponent to 17 points or less
2. Limit the opponent to 3.2 yards per carry or less
3. Win 65% of third-down opportunities
4. Create 3 or more turnovers
Claeys explained the challenge this season to Twin Cities ESPN 1500, “I think we can play good defense. Now, are kids willing to go through that process every week and prepare themselves the same and look at every opponent the same and say, 'It's not who we play, but how we play each week?' If we live up to those standards, we have a chance. If the kids have the will, and they want to do that part of it.”
“Like I said, there's no challenges during the spring, and so the first time things go bad, we're going to find out who's going to stick together and who's not. I think we have a chance to just keep building, but the past has nothing to do with it. Like I told Coach (Kill), if I did (think the Gophers couldn't play good defense), I would've never come with him.”
“There's been 10 D-coordinators here in the last 20 years. That's not really good job stability on my part, and so those things you got to let it go. Not to say you can't learn from the past and some things that have went on, but that's not going to have anything to do with if we play good on defense or don't. The past 20 years is not going to affect that.”
Claeys may puke if the Gophers only have 9 sacks like they did a year ago.
He explained, “It bothers me. That's just something whether it's the Big Ten or Conference USA, it doesn't matter. The quarterback has to make decisions under pressure and not sit back there and do what he wants to do or let a coach signal in from the sideline of what he wants to throw. Every secondary coverage, there's a weakness to it, and the way you cover it up is by getting to the quarterback.”
“Make the ball come out quicker; the quicker the ball comes out, the more people can chase and run. You can watch game after game whether on Saturday or Sunday, it doesn't matter. Bad things happen when the quarterback can hold onto the football. I've been very blunt with the kids -- that's a situation that has to be corrected, and without blitzing 25 times a game. You know you have to be able to put pressure on the QB and get him get the ball out. I told someone the other day, 'If you look up and halfway through the season we only have nine sacks, we're going to struggle. We're not getting things accomplished we need to get accomplished.”
The Gophers open at USC. The next three games are at home against New Mexico State, Miami (OH), and North Dakota State.
George Deleone: I've got to get up to speed technology-wise
UCONN offensive coordinator / tight ends coach George Deleone began coaching in 1970.
Deleone has coached at Southern Connecticut State, Rutgers, Holy Cross, Syracuse, San Diego Chargers, Syracuse (again), Ole Miss, Temple, Miami Dolphins, and UCONN.
A lot has changed over that time, especially in technology and recruiting.
Deleone told the Hartford Courant, “I can't do the freaking thing; it's ridiculous. But you can't function without it (social media), and you know what? I'm going to have to get better at it.”
Deleone best summed things up by saying, “They're not adapting to what I do."
He added, “Right now I've been going on e-mails and I've got my young coaches over there and they help me stay in touch on Facebook, but I'm gonna say this to you: I've got to get up to speed technology-wise. The big thing for me right now is being able to turn on the computer. I absolutely have to get up to speed. A lot of that technology has infiltrated young America, and that's our clientele, so we have to adapt to what they do.”
We have a couple of recommendations for Coach Deleone and any others in a similiar situation.
1. Download the FootballScoop iPhone app
2. Create a twitter account and then download the twitter app on your phone
3. Be sure follow @footballscoop
4. Create a facebook page, then find the FootballScoop Staff on facebook. Almost 5,000 coaches have friended us on facebook.
Joe Paterno explains his plan to handle quarterback decision
Joe Paterno feels this year's team at Penn State is more willing to accept tough coaching that last year's team. Paterno believes the Nittany Lions will be improved, but he isn't close to naming a starting quarterback.
A year ago, Paterno allowed his nine assistant coaches to vote on the starting quarterback at the beginning of the year. Paterno admitted to the Reading Eagle that he didn't want true freshman Rob Bolden to start, but all nine assistants voted for Bolden, so Bolden started.
Joe Pa explained, “Because I thought he (Bolden) was a little too young. He hadn't been here for spring practice. He had just been in high school. He had never played before 100,000 people in an environment such as Alabama. So I was concerned about that and I laid back a little bit because the guys were all gung-ho about it.”
Not surprisingly, Joe Pa is going to let the quarterback battle play itself out during August camp.
He explained, “I'm assuming he's (Bolden) going to come back unless he tells me otherwise. I think in all fairness to the kid, he ought to be looking forward to enjoying it. Most of these kids are pretty good kids, just like the (Pat) Devlin kid.”
“Devlin and his dad sat in my kitchen. The dad said he needed two years to be a pro. I said, ‘He could have two years here.’ He went to Delaware and took him to a national championship game. I thought he'd be a pretty good draft pick, and he didn't even get drafted. He's better than that. I like Devlin, but (Daryll) Clark had done a good job, and I wasn't about to just.”
“I'm going to play the guy who's best for the team as long as the kid works at it. Devlin may have beaten out Clark if he had come back, I don't know. But the year we played Clark ahead of Devlin (2008), I thought Clark was better for that team. Right now, I wouldn't know for sure which one of the two kids (Bolden or Matt McGloin) would start. I'd sit down and tell them what I'm thinking. I don't want them to read about it in the press.”
Sounds like a veteran head coach.
Penn State opens with Indiana State. Alabama visits Happy Valley in week #2 for a 3:30 pm EST kick-off.
Andy Ludwig: I don't know what more you could ask for...
Andy Ludwig is gearing up for his first season as the offensive coordinator at San Diego State. Ludwig joined Rocky Long’s staff after serving as the offensive coordinator at Cal last season.
It was an easy decision for Ludwig, who feels very comfortable with the offensive personnel at San Diego State. He is looking forward to coaching senior quarterback Ryan Lindley, who is on his third different offensive coordinator as a starter.
Ludwig told XTRA Sports 1360 in San Diego, “I really feel like my job is to make sure it (our personnel) fits what I want to do. With a four year starter at quarterback, a 1500 yard rusher at tailback, four or five returning o-lineman, and a good group of tight ends…I don’t know what more you could ask for as an offensive coordinator.”
“It will be pro-style, west-coast emphasis that ensures we are featuring the quarterback and tailback.”
Ludwig made it seem the Rocky Long isn’t radically changing the way things were done under former head coach Brady Hoke.
“I don’t think it’s a new philosophy at all. I think Brady Hoke coached toughness and demanded high character out of his players and I see the same thing out of Coach Long.”
Asked if overall depth is the biggest difference between some of the bigger schools that he has coached at, Ludwig said, “That’s my initial impression. It’s the depth. But again, I think the younger players that we are bringing in are quality guys. I feel good about our personnel across the board.”
San Diego State opens with four non-conference games including Cal Poly, at Army, Washington State, and at Michigan.
Cutcliffe blames himself for Bama game, looks forward to hosting Stanford
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe believes the Blue Devils are close and he knows what has to happen to produce more wins.
During a radio interview on Thursday, Cutcliffe said, “I know we’re better. We just have to produce wins. That’s the bottom line.”
“We played well last year, (but) we didn’t win. We lost five ACC football games that we very easily could have won, three by five points, one by six, and one by ten at Georgia Tech when we were leading but managed to throw a pick-six.”
“We have to take care of the football and we certainly have to play better defense. If we can do those things and do them much better, we can have a really fine football team.”
Cutcliffe is hoping for a much improved season from quarterback Sean Renfree, who threw 17 interceptions a year ago.
Cutcliffe explained about Renfree, “It’s a mental thing. Not trying to win games. Shaun is really athletic and people don’t know it. I want him to relax. When are they going to turn the corner. He takes that personally and is out there trying to win games on every possession. You can’t play quarterback like that. He has matured. He’s watched hours of more film. He’s watched those seventeen interceptions. I think he has a much better grip on who he is and how to go about winning football games as a quarterback.”
Last year, Duke hosted Alabama at Wallace-Wade Stadium. The Crimson Tide won 62-13. Cutcliffe, who is usually one of the best in preparing for marquee games, seemed disappointed with himself in the preparation for Alabama.
This year, the Stanford Cardinal will travel to Duke in week #2.
Cutcliffe said, “A year ago, Alabama came to town and we laid an egg. I think I underestimated the emotions. We were drained before we ever played the game. I just didn’t manage, it was kinda normal for me, but that’s what I’ve done my entire career. Our team was just spent. I think we’re better equipped this time and I think we’ll play really well against Stanford.”
Dooley addresses potential multi-year scholarships
Early in the week, we made an SEC Media Days prediction that, “Dooley will spend at least 40% of the time talking about rule changes, NCAA stuff, athletic director questions (the stuff other than this year’s team).”
In the words of a loyal FootballScoop reader, “It wasn't your wildest prediction in the article, but you were correct on Dooley.”
The Tennessee head coach loves to talk, which leads us to Andrew Gribble’s article this morning with a stunning title…“Dooley Not Afraid to Share Opinions.”
Addressing the topic of potential multi-year scholarships that Mike Slive is interested in, Dooley didn’t hesitate to offer his opinion.
Dooley explained, "I hear about how it's so awful when a player gets a scholarship taken away. I'm sitting there going, 'Universities give academic scholarships all the time, and if a student doesn't meet certain academic requirements, they take it away from them.'"
"It's no different to me in athletics. We have a commitment to them, and they have a commitment to us. So we're giving them a benefit and they're giving us a benefit. That's why it's a contract."
Good point, young Derek.