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November 25, 2014

David Cutcliffe

DAVID CUTCLIFFE:  First of all, it's Senior Day.  It's a great celebration, a lot of guys that are playing a lot of good football for us.  Certainly, I'm very proud of what those guys have accomplished and very proud of who they are.
With that, what we need right now, we got a dose of Sunday and today, is a lot of good hard work.  That's got to continue.  We're playing a team, Wake Forest, who plays extremely well.  Good, solid football in every aspect last week.  So we're trying our best to just get better each time we go on the practice field.  Hopefully, that computes into how we play on Saturday.
With that, I'll take your questions.

Q.  As far as these rivalry games you have with North Carolina, obviously, and then another in‑state team in Wake Forest, just what you can say about the importance of them, not just on the field, but also off the field when you go onto the recruiting trail right after the season.
DAVID CUTCLIFFE:  Well, obviously, it always affects you in your in‑state recruiting, and we have North Carolina, Wake Forest, and North Carolina State all in our league.  So it's very competitive in that regard, and all of that's bigger than one ball game, but you want to play well when you play your in‑state rivals.

Q.  And as far as your team and what you've seen these last couple games, obviously taking some losses and struggling to score at certain points, what do you take away from your offense and what's happened the last couple of weeks?  And how have you addressed that to try and move back to a more productive game against Wake Forest, and obviously in a Bowl game moving forward?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE:  Well, we've been very inconsistent offensively.  When you're completing less than 50 percent of your passes and put yourselves in some bad down and distance, and then obviously doing something we hadn't done early, turn the ball over.
The only way I know to correct those things is go to the practice field and do it with extremely focused, hard work, and that's what we're approaching to do.

Q.  Hey, Coach Dave, talk about Wake Forest.  What do you see on film for Wake Forest?  I know they struggled this year, but they'll probably give you trouble on Saturday.  What do you see on film?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE:  Wake Forest is a team that's playing good, solid football.  That game against Virginia Tech may have been as solid a football game, when you talk about defense and the kicking game.  That's been Wake Forest's strength all year long.  Time the offense to go along with that puts you in position to win a game or you win the game.  They certainly found a way to win the game extremely‑‑ in a tough, physical way Saturday against a tough, physical football team.
So Dave Clawson's a heck of a coach.  Anywhere he goes, he's won.  You know you're in for a battle, and that's the bottom line.

Q.  Talk about Senior Night or Senior Day.  What's it like for your seniors, if they win, you're going to have the most wins you've ever had since the '60s.  Is that a pretty cool stat there?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE:  Yes, I think certainly what they've accomplished, over the last three years particularly, when these guys have been doing the bulk of the playing, it's been pretty spectacular.  Winning like that with their freshman year‑‑ their first year here was a three‑win season, so that tells you what they've accomplished over the last three.  They brought the program and its habits to another level.  So we're all very appreciative of that.

Q.  Coach, I know that Senior Day is big for all those guys on your roster like that, but one guy I wanted to ask and sort of sum up what he's meant to you is Jamison Crowder.
DAVID CUTCLIFFE:  Jamison is one of the best people that I know, and he is a pretty special competitor.  He's done things here that just are pretty amazing, whether it's catching the ball, returning a punt, playing in a ball game, but what Jamison Crowder has done for us is there's another level of practice that he understands.  I don't know that he's ever missed a day.  In every drill, he is the leader.  He's working harder than anybody on the field, and those players are rare.  I've had a few of them in my career, but they're rare when you've got a guy with great talent that is your best worker, and that's one of the best formulas for a football program.

Q.  And then defensively, what David Helton has meant.
DAVID CUTCLIFFE:  Well, he's just‑‑ I told him the other day he's about as rock solid, dependable as anybody that you could ever‑‑ whatever we ask him to do, whether it's early in the kicking game or playing a good bit as a true freshman and leading the league in tackles, leading the team in tackles, playing mike, playing will, covering kickoffs, covering punts‑‑ I don't know if you have a guy that's more willing and more of a team player than David Helton.
And he's a special teammate.  Very, very good with his teammates.  And one of those guys that's also a scholar and a gentleman.  I mean, a real scholar and a gentleman.  So my hat's off to David and what he's accomplished in four years at Duke.

Q.  Good afternoon.  To follow up on what you said about being inconsistent on offense.  Where does improvement have to come from to be better on offense the last two games?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE:  The first thing is not turn the ball over.  If we take care of the football, that keeps us‑‑ we turn one over in the end zone, or right at the end zone‑‑ but it just keeps the drive alive when you don't turn it over.  It doesn't give the other team any opportunities for field position.  So it always starts there.
And then we have to complete‑‑ we're an offense that can complete 65 percent of our passes and should.  Our passing efficiency is as low as it's gotten, then it stresses your run game.  We're running the ball better than we ever have.  I want to be more consistent.  I want more four‑yard runs plus and less three or under or four or under.  So that stuff is all things you do at practice.  That's having a good football practice and putting another good football practice on top of that and another one.
I really think in the three games in 13 days, probably lightening practice up and being challenged with regard to being physically beat up a little bit, that probably set us back.  So hopefully, we can bounce right back out of that.  That's what we're counting on.

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