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October 17, 2012

David Cutcliffe

COACH CUTCLIFFE:  We obviously have a huge challenge in front of us playing a very talented North Carolina team.  We are coming off a pretty difficult loss but been pleased.
At this point we have practiced with intensity and prepared well.  Again, it will be a big challenge.  We'll have to prepare well to have an opportunity this week but we are glad to be back at home at Wallace Wade Stadium.
And I've said this all week long, first time that we've played North Carolina on a non‑Thanksgiving Saturday, so it's the first chance since I've been here that our students will have an opportunity to go to this ballgame.
So I think we are all looking forward to being back home in Wallace Wade stadium.

Q.  Why was the game moved off of Thanksgiving Saturday?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  They rotate these things, anyway.  And I can't tell you a specific answer, trying to make everybody's schedulework.  Michael Kelly gets all the non‑conference scheduling, and then he tries to get everything else to work based on the rotation.  Doesn't bother me a bit.
Like I said, I'm a traditionalist, but this is a circumstance where it's much better for us from a student body support and fan support standpoint, it's much better for us to play in October, or whenever, just not Thanksgiving.

Q.  If they want to have it at Carolina next year, would that be okay with you, at Thanksgiving weekend?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Yeah, that's where we played last year on Thanksgiving weekend, that certainly doesn't bother me.  But for our home game, it serves us better.  We have a student body from all over the country and really the world, and so many or most all of them are gone for that Thanksgiving break.

Q.  What are your recollections of Vernon, and would you have imagined at that point that he would go on to have the kind of career that he's had with you guys?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Well, saw him on tape but the first real recollection is very vivid to me.  It was in one‑on‑one reels in summer camp and it was in the stadium, and he was so competitive and so explosive.  And you're watching him not only from drills to running routes versus air and then into one‑on‑one, and I Just never saw him take one rep lightly.  And so I really saw what I thought was going to be a special player.  Do you ever imagine someone setting the kind of records he's set?  Not necessarily.  But I also would tell you, I'm not surprised.

Q.  Two players who have given your offenses significant boost this is year, and wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Desmond Scott, and can you talk about the development of a young player like Crowder, and a veteran like Scott who has made a productive move from running back to wide receiver; and also, what went into your decision‑making process to make that move?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  All right, well, first on Jamison, that you asked first, I thought by the end of the year last year, Jamison was a real weapon for our offense.  He was an excellent return man for us all season long, and I think he's a budding superstar.  He's got every tool:  Speed, quickness, athleticism, great skill with the ball.  I haven't seen anything yet Jamison can't do and a great football mind, a lot of savvy, and another guy that works like Conner Vernon works.
When it comes to Desmond Scott, I've never been around a player that can do what he's done.  I don't know if there are many, if any, other players can do what he's done, but our injuries this summer, we have reached a point where we were really good in the receiving core and our plans were going to have to be somewhat altered and Desmond is just so gifted athletically.  His ball skills are incredible.  He's got great feet and timing and a sense of balance.
So we thought we would look at this as an answer and it went beyond looking at it.  Obviously he is a very productive wide receiver.  He's really good with the ball after he catches it.   He's also a 400‑pound bench presser, so you've got a guy in the slot that's really physical.  People don't see it but he's blocked extremely well.
So that may be one of the all‑time great moves and he's going to end up a guy, one of the three players in the ACC history before the season is over with a thousand yards on kickoff returns, a thousand‑plus receiving and a thousand‑plus rushing.  So that puts together a pretty nice career.

Q.  With those early morning practices, were you able to stay up and watch that Chargers and Broncos game?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  No, I didn't.  I hate to admit that.  I saw a little bit of the first half at work, and I told them the next day‑‑ I said, you played well the first half, and you did.  You had too much field and too much bad luck.  I mean, literally luck; so the pick sticks and Decker falling down.
I had to go to bed because I had to get up so early.  We taped it, so I have seen it since, and he's pretty incredible.  I knew they thought they had a good plan for going in, and obviously I thought they did.  That's when people play you well on that team.

Q.  Do you routinely talk to him once a week?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Yeah, either that or text.  Both of us are so busy, sometimes it's easier to text back and forth and keep up with each other.  He'll critique us a little bit and I'll critique him a little bit.  I didn't critique anything he did last week, that's for sure.

Q.  What kind of coaching mind tricks have you used on your players this week to make sure that they don't get too down from what happened in Blacksburg?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Well, the first thing, it may seem like a trick but I always tell them the truth.  You know, and maybe that is a trick.  They are used to me telling them the truth.
I told them in Blacksburg in the locker room, and as it turned out after I watched the film, pretty accurately, that I thought we did two things.  We got out‑fundamentaled when the game turned around and we got out‑hit, and that's how you come back in the game.  That's what Virginia Tech did.  And that was no different than I saw on the tape.
So I told them in the locker room, I wouldn't beat a dead horse on Sunday, and I didn't.  I moved right to where we‑‑ what I believe our team is, and I went through each position of our team with an evaluation, a week seven evaluation, what I thought each position had to do to fundamentally get better what we were doing well, what our capabilities were, etc., etc.
And then afterwards, I challenged them that it's up to them to make the decision, you know, what they are going to do about it.   I can't fix it with the talk.  And the only way we can work on this is on the practice field and they responded Sunday night and they to this point haven't quit responding.  All that means is you've got a chance.
You know, we've got to carry it to the field Saturday.  I thought we prepared extremely well for Virginia Tech last week, and I probably wasn't wrong, because the 20‑0 start wasn't an accident, either.  We were dominating the game.  No gifts there.
But we have to obviously maintain that for 60 minutes against these teams that are so physically gifted.

Q.  When something like that happens, considering the history that you have had to overcome there, is it hard, though, even for you not to slip into the, uh‑oh, here we go again?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Sure it is.  I tell you what I did during the game.  I went up‑and‑down the sideline continuously, and you know, we are only 14 down going into the fourth quarter, and that's nothing.  To me, I'm telling them, that's the position you want to be in.  That's where good football teams win.  You're only 14 down in the fourth quarter, you know, go win it.
What we became is a frustrated team.  So my message then and it was on Sunday, as well, is you cannot let frustration be a guide for anything you do in line because it accomplishes nothing, zero.  And if you can feel challenged, you can be concerned, you can be a lot of things, but frustration is not one of them, and I saw a bunch of frustrated individuals up‑and‑down our sideline, and I kept trying to relay that and trying to encourage‑‑ and I guess I am old enough now to realize that I don't get frustrated if I can help it very, very often, rarely, because I've never seen it accomplish anything, and I don't want to see that emotion on our team.
So after the game I said, here is what happened and what I do want to do is put this game behind us emotionally.  I don't want to see the emotions that have come out of this game again, either during or after and that's‑‑ like I said, I told them the truth and we have gone on from there.

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