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April 23, 2014

David Cutcliffe

COACH CUTCLIFFE:  As most of you know, we went right to spring practice.  Signing day was February 7th.  February 9th, we started spring ball, which I felt like was great for this team.  Certainly our guys have liked it.  Post spring we've had a great run of six really, really productive weeks in the weight room and conditioning area, which I think we've seen a lot of improvement.
I think probably the most relevant thing to mention quickly is I think post spring we're still right now looking at how we'll manage Brandon Connette due to the illness his mom has been diagnosed with back in December.  Transferring somewhere on the West Coast.  Going to be greatly missed as a young man and person.  Certainly as a player.  But it was an easy decision to support Brandon in every way we could.
The big thing is we're focused on Thomas Parker Boehme, people we have coming in.  I think it's really important to look at what we're getting done in that regard behind Anthony Boone who is returning as our starter.
With that I'll take your questions.

Q.  Do you have a physical update on Lucas?  Seemed to be the only major guy hurt in the spring.  Have you been able to avoid surgery with that?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Lucas Patrick is still in rehab, but no surgery, thank goodness.  Looks good.  Feels good.  He's getting all of his upper bodywork, a lot of other physical conditioning work.  I think he's going to have a fairly normal summer.  I think that's probably the best news we've had coming out of the spring practice overall.
Coming out of spring practice, looks like we'll have all of our people available as we head into the summer.

Q.  Brandon was not only your backup quarterback, he was part of a very effective short yardage in a goal line third or fourth down conversion unit.  Do you see developing another special package like that?  Is that something that Anthony will take on his plate?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  Well, Thomas Sirk did a lot of this this past spring.  We were able to practice him full speed as you saw in the spring game.  He's got great speed, a lot of the same attributes that Brandon had as a runner.
Parker Boehme, who was hurt at the tail end of spring but is going to be fine, is that same kind of guy.
We're starting the year with only one quarterback that's ever played collegiately, and that is Anthony.  I think the big deal right now is that we are definitively looking at certain ways to use whoever ends the backup or maybe even a third team.  I want those guys to get some meaningful playing time.  That's one of the ways we've gone about doing it through the years.

Q.  Because Anthony is your only guy with any experience, did you have any kind of conversation with him, does he feel like it's a different role, a new role?  Do you feel like you have to ask more of him?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  I've had a lot of conversations with him.  Most of it is involved in the leadership at the position that is involved.  That's a change.  Anthony can't get consumed with his own role, his own preparation.  He's our leader at quarterback, where he kind of shared that with Brandon previously.
Whether it changes what we do on the field with him, I think that probably remains to be seen.  But I really don't see that much of a change in the role we ask Anthony to be.  I want Anthony to be a great starting quarterback in all aspects of the game, focused on his improvement, which is what all of us do every year.
As I mentioned, I'm real serious about trying to find a way to get our younger quarterbacks some meaningful snaps.  I did it when I was at Ole Miss.  I did it when I was at Tennessee.  Always just wanted to stay aware of that depth situation.

Q.  As the head of the coaches committee, what is your sense of where the discussion is on eight versus nine conference games as the league prepares for Amelia Island next month?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  I think it's going to be debated.  I will say that.  I wouldn't be being truthful if I would tell you that the coaches lean heavily toward eight.  That's where we are.  We have schedules made out over the next few years.  We have Notre Dame rotating in and out of there.  We have Kansas, Northwestern.  We have some Big 12, Big Ten, SEC schools on our schedule now.
From a coaches' standpoint, we're happy with the eight games.  I think there's going to be a lot of discussions we're going to have with the ADs that will be interesting.

Q.¬† Might those discussions involve the Commissioner's NCAA‑proposed legislation of doing away with divisions, and might that affect the eight versus nine debate so you would play people more often, rotate through the entire league more frequently?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  There's going to be debate from a standpoint of coaches heavily favoring two divisions, more meaningful games late in the year late in the year, et cetera.  It's why Major League Baseball, the NFL, why they stay within divisions.  Division races are interesting to fans and all alike.
It's going to be pro and con.  It's going to be voiced very strongly by some.  It's going to be listened to hopefully by all.  In the end we do what's best for the conferences and what's best for the institutions.
Should be an interesting time.  There's a lot of things involving NCAA legislation.  There's things involving the conference.  Player safety.  I think all of those things will dominate our discussions as we move forward in Amelia Island.

Q.  I think it's been two years at this point since Thomas Sirk has been able to play competitive football.  Do you expect the same things from him when he first arrived in Durham or has he changed over the past two years?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:  He's a better player.  I hate the fact he's been dealing with the surgery that came at the end of the 2013 spring.  He got a lot of work there.  He's had a lot of meaningful reps, which has been good in practice.  Our practices are intense.  It's not game snaps.  But he's gotten better.
I expect more from him, to be honest with you.  That's been my conversation with him.  He's not a rookie.  Whether he wants to look at it or not that way, you got to go play like a veteran.  What you have to do is play like you've practiced.
He's prepared very well in his times where he's been healthy enough to practice.

Q.  With the change at offensive coordinator, what kind of impact will that have?
COACH CUTCLIFFE:¬† We stayed in‑house.¬† Scottie Montgomery will do a great job.¬† He was an integral part of what we were doing a year ago.¬† Kurt had been with me since about 1996.¬† That is change.¬† But we're going to be in the same system, same systematic approach we've had all these years.
Scottie has a great attention to detail, a great teacher.  I felt like our spring from a staff working standpoint went extremely well.  We have a new receiver's coach if Jeff Faris.  John Latina is a veteran of this system since 1999.  Re'quan Boyette has been in this system.  I'm comfortable with where our offensive staff is right now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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