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September 19, 2012

David Cutcliffe

MIKE FINN:  We're now welcome head coach David Cutcliffe of Duke.  With that, coach, brief opening statement, then we'll go to questions.
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  All right.  We've had good work this week.  We have a lot of getting better obviously that we need to do.  I think our players have taken that to heart to some degree this week.
We have a Memphis team that's hungry, like we are.¬† They're certainly hungry to win.¬† They have talent.¬† A team that worries me on the perimeter offensively, and a team that's got a lot of athletes defensively that line up in a lot of different places, and they're playing a lot of different people.¬† A very well‑coached Memphis team.
I think Justin has put together quite a staff.  So we're looking forward to a weekend at home where we're celebrating the 100th season of Duke football.
With that, I'll take your questions.

Q.  Certainly you're facing a team that hasn't won yet.  What flaws do you see that make you think, We can take advantage of this or that?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  I think their biggest issue at this point is that they've turned the ball over.  They're doing a lot of things well.  They threw for 323 yards.  They have a kicking game that is as solid as it can be.  Their place kicking and kicking off are very good.  Their punter, averaging over 45 yards a punt net, which is incredible.
I think the thing that they haven't done is take care of the football.  You can't count on that if you're Duke.  We're going to have to play extremely well to put ourselves in a position to win the game.

Q.  I was going to ask you a little bit about your history with Memphis.  I remember you being here when you were at Ole Miss, you had four games with them, obviously a lot of games when you were at Tennessee as a coordinator.  What do you remember about those games?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  I think Memphis always has athletic teams.  Lot of friends through the years that have played and coached there, so I am very familiar with their program.  Again, a lot of friends that have been coaches there and players there.  So a lot of history.  A lot of thoughts about the Liberty Bowl.  I've coached in a lot of football games there.  Obviously the City of Memphis.  A lot of good memories is what it amounts to.

Q.  Can you tell me a little bit about this home at home series, how it came about, what you find most attractive about it.
COACH CUTCLIFFE:¬† Well, it's in the state of Tennessee, which is an area we recruit.¬† Obviously with our history in Mississippi, it's in our recruiting circles.¬† It's staying in the southeastern United States is important to me as we develop our non‑conference schedule.¬† I think it's both programs that are trying to get to the next level, work hard to get there.¬† So we have similar circumstances in that regard.
It looked like a good fit when we both needed non‑conference ballgames.

Q.  Coach, tell me a little bit about Blair Holliday being back this past weekend.
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Well, it was a surreal moment when he walked in our pregame meal all dressed to a T in his new suit.  He's a big, tall young man.  You could have heard a pin drop when he walked through the doors.  Everyone was seated except me.  I was getting ready to bless the food.  He came in.  The only comment that was needed, I said, Hey, everybody, let's welcome back No.8.  He received a standing ovation from the squad.
He proceeded to go around the room giving people hugs, greeting people.  It was really one of those times where the clock stopped.  Time did stand still for a moment.
The other kind of comical part was that we thought, he went out for the coin toss, we thought the safest place for him to watch the game would be up in our building, my office area that overlooks the stadium.  He wouldn't have any of that.  We couldn't have pried him away from the sidelines.
They kind of put him back there where he was safe, and our players kind of surrounded him.  I think he had the time of a lifetime just being back on the sideline with his buddies.  We were very happy that he was here.

Q.  How is he progressing?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  He's making progress.  He's got lots of challenges, as you might imagine.  He knows it.  We had a long discussion about that.
When you know what you used to could do, and he's very aware of that, the most difficult thing is to fight frustration, depression, a feeling of 'I'm not going to get there.'  I just told him, Rome was not built in a day.  It's going to take more patience.  A guy that was an elite athlete, things were happening quickly for him.  I told him that it's not going to be the same.  But his goals were our goals.  Whatever he wants, I want.  We were there to support him.  Kind of left it at that.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about your overall injury report.  I feel like it's the longest one in the ACC every time I type them up.  Is it a situation that's improving or do you feel like you're hanging on by a thread each week?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  We have hung on by a thread.  It's beyond anything I ever would have imagined.  We got some people back the last two days in practice.  We hope we'll be able to release tomorrow, but Jordan Byas looks better.  We were able to get Walt Canty back.  He played partially in the last game.  Lucas Patrick, one of our really promising young offensive linemen is back practicing.  A couple of others.  Kyler Brown and Britton Grier, a couple more defensive players.
There are some that just aren't going to get back anytime soon or at all.  We had another freshman who was playing well for us, Corbin McCarthy, tore his labrum.  He had to have that repaired yesterday.  So he is out for the season.
It's been hit‑or‑miss.¬† We don't have any choice but to accept it.¬† I think our coaches have done a great job trying to get a lot of people ready that we didn't think were going to be involved in certain areas and they are now.¬† So it's just part of it.

Q.  Are they more bones and fractures or are they conditioning things like pulled muscles, joints?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  No, we don't have any pulled muscles.  Most of them have been broken bones, ligaments, the shoulder, the serious injuries unfortunately which have required surgeries.  Jordan Byas tore cartilage.  There's no rhyme or reason.  We're not out of shape.  We're not this or we're not that.  I guess it's Art Chase not living right, just unlucky.
MIKE FINN:  Coach, thanks for being with us.  Good luck this weekend and we'll talk to you next Wednesday.

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