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September 24, 2014

Al Golden

AL GOLDEN:¬† Obviously we're playing the Duke Blue Devils at home at Sun Life, so it's nice to be home, and we're playing a heck of a team, a team that hasn't lost in a long time in the regular season and is 4‑0 and ranked in the top 25.¬† You can see why when you turn on the film.¬† You've got a quarterback that makes it go for them.¬† They're rotating in a bunch of different running backs and they're deep, big, strong, physical offensive line.¬† McCaffrey and Crowder can get the ball‑‑ Crowder can obviously make you miss underneath, and they're protecting the ball well on offense.¬† They're taking the ball away on defense.¬† They're not giving up deep balls on defense, and they're tackling well, and they play their defense really well.
Just like last year, one of the best kicking games that we'll see all year, not just because of the specialists but because of their attitude and how they cover.  Excellent challenge for us and one that we're preparing for as we speak.

Q.  You started off talking about the opponent that you're going to have this weekend in Duke.  What are you seeing in your team heading into this game?  What are some of those positive, key areas that you really think you're taking in that are going to be effective against a team like Duke?
AL GOLDEN:¬† Well, number one, I think we learned a lot about our team last week in Lincoln, and there was a lot of individual performances where guys grew up.¬† On defense Darrion Owens grew up and did a good job, and Deon Bush did a good job for us, Ufomba Kamalu did a good job.¬† There's a lot of individual performances where guys played a lot, played in a big‑time environment and grew as players.¬† Braxton Berrios and I think Clive Walford obviously picked his game up, and just countless others.¬† From that standpoint, I think that's good.¬† And then obviously we have a great challenge ahead of us in Duke, and that gets their attention, number one.¬† Number two, the things that we need to fix on offense, defense and special teams, we've got their attention, and clearly because we're back in the Coastal Division, it adds added meaning. ¬†Those are the things that we're thinking about right now.

Q.  When you look at some of those areas that you want to fix heading into this game, what are those areas that you're working on in practice that you really feel need to be addressed before Duke?
AL GOLDEN:  Well, we'd better tackle better than we did last week because between this group of running backs and boon, they can make you pay and they did that to us last year.  We're going to have to be better tacklers.  We're going to have to eliminate any mental errors for sure.  We're going to have to generate some TFLs and sacks, which we didn't do a good job of last week, so those are just some of the areas on defense.
Offensively on special teams, we're still trying to improve our kickoff return and our kick coverage, and then on offense, we need a better running game than we had a week ago, and obviously a little bit from an offensive standpoint, probably more individual base, but if we turn the ball over three times against this team, who doesn't turn it over, it's going to create an even greater challenge for us.

Q.  You mentioned the defense.  What do you need to do better defensively against Duke than you have in the last couple of years?
AL GOLDEN:  Well, there's a lot of things we've got to do, starting with me and the personnel and selection, play selection and scheme and everything, starting there, and then going all the way down to each individual player and tackling and our fits.  Again, I think everybody in the building is accountable to it right now starting with me, and we need to improve.  We certainly need to improve our run fits.  We need to improve our tackling.  We need to generate more TFLs and negatives, and then we can't give up the deep ball because Boone is capable, so not only does he have McCaffrey that's long and that can go get it, but this team really hurt us on the perimeter a year ago.  Those are just a number of the areas that we're focused on, and again, it starts with me and goes through the staff, and ultimately to the leadership of the team and then each individual player and each position group.  Each position group has got a focus area that we need to improve on, and that's what we're doing.

Q.¬† ACC conference play is coming back in this group.¬† Duke last year reached the ACC Championship game, and that was a late season match‑up.¬† Do you think the match‑up this year although early season has the same type of implications?
AL GOLDEN:  Well, yes, because they haven't lost in the regular season, and they're the defending champions of the Coastal, and they're ranked 23 and playing really good football.  Again, it's the most important game for us because it's the next game, but in terms of the conference and moving forward, obviously it's a big game for both programs.  To answer your question, I'm sure it does have more significance or equal significance, but for us it's important because it's just the next game for us.

Q.  Talk about the playbook; how open is the playbook for Brad since that game against Nebraska?
AL GOLDEN:¬† Well, it's not that it wasn't open against Nebraska‑‑ are you saying Nebraska or Louisville?¬† I'm sorry.

Q.¬† The whole season since Louisville‑‑
AL GOLDEN:  Okay, so again, the misconception coming out of Louisville was that it wasn't open, but in reality we had the ball three times inside the 10 and only came away with three points.  So from that standpoint, there's no doubt that that was a learning experience for Brad, and he has grown as a player.
I think more than anything, it's not really that James is trusting him more.  I think that Brad is more comfortable in trusting himself and his line of scrimmage operation and all that, and certainly I think Brad got a lot of confidence, as he should have, from the game the other night.  We can't turn it over three times.  It doesn't matter how many stats you have or how many points you have or how many yards you have.  If you turn it over three times, it's hard to overcome against a good team on the road.  He's got to learn that this week against a team that doesn't really turn it over at all, and I think it's going to be critical for his growth that we protect the ball and continue to just trust and play because that what he's doing right now.

Q.¬† And talk about the run defense.¬† I know last week Nebraska ran all over the defense‑‑
AL GOLDEN:  It did.

Q.¬† What do you guys have to do to stop‑‑
AL GOLDEN:  We've got to do a lot of things differently.  We've got to do a lot of things differently, starting with me, the way we're practicing, whatever changes that we have to make schematically, whatever personnel changes, maybe we need to see this player a little bit more than another player.  There were some individual performances in there that guys can grow from, and I think that's positive, but we need to tackle better and we need to generate more losses, both sacks and TFLs, and just in general, everybody just execute together, stay together and execute the defense as it's called.

Q.  I just wanted to ask you, David Cutcliffe's reputation has always been as a quarterback guru, the Mannings and all that, but does it seem to you watching him the past couple years that he's turned it more into a run offense?  They're rushing for more than they're passing these days?
AL GOLDEN:  I think that's a great point.  I think obviously he's found what works best for him at Duke, and I think the thing that's evident with Coach Cutcliffe and everybody in our league and around the country respects the heck out of him, the one thing that's evident is that he's comfortable in his own skin and he's comfortable at Duke, and now he's recruiting to that system, so I think that's the biggest difference right now.
I'm sure earlier on he was throwing it a little bit more, but based on how he's recruiting now, and I don't want to say cookie cutter, so to speak, but he's got the system in place now and he's recruiting to it, and it's evident on both sides of the ball and it's evident in his kicking game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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