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November 8, 2017

David Cutcliffe

Greensboro, North Carolina

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Veterans Day, it is an honor for us to be on base, to be a part of this Veterans Day that will be a big celebration there at West Point. It's also a huge challenge to play an Army team that is an outstanding team. They've won five games in a row for a season. They have talent. They do every little thing they do extremely well in all three phases. We'll have to be as good as we can possibly be to have an opportunity to go up there and win.

I'll take questions.

Q. Obviously Army is having a good year, coming off that win over Air Force. What are you seeing on film to explain why they've been so successful?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, they've got experienced, talented players. They were good a year ago. Actually, two years ago they were a better football team than their record. Their quarterback, it all starts with him on offense. He's a dynamic player. He's a great runner. He runs their offense extremely well. They run the ball as well as anybody I've seen. They haven't thrown it much this year. They've only got 16 completions in nine games, and they're 7-2. That should tell you something.

To complement that offense, they've got an outstanding defense. They're experienced up front. They're experienced in the secondary. They play great team defense. This is a team, when you turn on the tape, you watch the kicking game, their coverage skills, their return skills, I think they do as good a job as anybody at coaching a team to play just that: as a team.

Very difficult team to beat for anyone.

Q. When you play a service academy team, are there certain common threads no matter which one it is in the way they approach the game, the discipline, that sort of thing, or is that not the case?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: No, I think it's absolutely the case. Discipline would be a word that I would use. Efficient. I think maybe the most common thread is how intense and how hard they play every down. You've got 11 people working together to try to win the game. I would say if you look at any of the academies, that is the common thread. They're doing a lot of things there, but they're building a team far above and beyond anything else.

Q. With Army in particular, is there a way to prepare for their relentless rushing attack? You've faced something in a different way when you played Georgia Tech, but what about the way they approach it?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, they use a lot of formations. I've kind of gotten involved myself through the years with that process, so I have gone out with our scout team, and we go out early with that group. We're running versus air initially, run full speed through all of the plays, getting more and more efficient with it. When I kind of get them pumped up, motivated, and actually yesterday we scrimmaged, live scrimmaging, which rarely do we practice live tackling and scrimmaging in a game week, but we did yesterday because I don't think there's any other way to prepare for it.

It's a challenge, there's no question. These guys are outstanding running the football.

Q. Did you do anything live during the bye week or was the bye week to focus on yourselves?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: On Wednesday of last week, one day we put on full pads. We were basically live without actually tackling to the ground that day. We had to be somewhat full speed there. We did less work against each other in this past open date than we normally would because we're playing this versatile Army attack, so we had to focus our defensive time on it.

It's not very normal for what we did yesterday. I thought it made us better yesterday. Thank the good Lord no one got hurt. We got through it without any injury.

Q. Have you done that previous times you played Army or even Georgia Tech?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: We do a little bit of it, but not to that extent. We do live cuts. We let our show team actually try to cut our players live because we think with that offense, you get so many cut blocks, we felt like you have to do that. We designate periods for that.

As I said, yesterday we just went full tilt. Hopefully that will help us.

Q. Why did you decide to do that?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, I just felt like two or three things. One, that will get your practice charged up. I felt after five games losing in a row, a spark would be good. We also did some full speed work ones against ones yesterday, excluding the Army offense. I think it generated the energy that we hoped for, for all of us.

The other part of it is this Army team does so many things. I don't know that I've seen somebody do as much with this offense as they do. I didn't want the practice to turn into a memorization. I wanted them to have to play. I don't think you can stand and stare at that offense and have a chance to stop it. You got to react to it. I felt like this particular matchup, it was critical for us to do that.

Q. In regards to defense, I've been hearing about Army's defense all week. I think your defense is allowing only 20 points per game. Can you go into your expectations of them this Saturday.
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: I think our defense has had a tremendous year in every aspect. We have obviously (indiscernible) close games particularly. It's been a year where offensively we've had our problems. But our defense has been pretty steady and kept us in ballgames. It's hard to play great defense if your offense isn't staying on the field.

I am very proud of what we've accomplished there. I think we're stronger, we're faster, we're more physical on defense than maybe any time since we've been here. We're still young.

I think as you look at Duke's defense right now, it bodes well not only for what we're going to be capable of here in November, but what we're capable of doing moving forward.

Q. How different is this Army squad, because you played them last year? Are they much improved from last year?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: I thought they were really good a year ago. We played in the hurricane game a year ago. It was an unusual game in that regard.

I'll tell you, since they've been there, this staff, they've been impressive. They've recruited well. They have good players. That doesn't need to get lost. It's not just scheme. They have really good football players.

This team is confident. When you have that experience at quarterback and this offense, they've got some quarterbacks on defense, people that are very experienced at what they do defensively. They're impressive.

I think you'll see Army under Jeff Monken be this kind of team.

Q. Is it good to have the bye week to get ready for Army instead of the week after, with the option, to get ready for that?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: No question, it helps you. That extra three days of work last week made this past Tuesday, yesterday, much less transitional. You do feel like you're ahead of the game to some degree with that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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