Duke football Tuesday update
Here are some notes from David Cutcliffe’s Tuesday press conference:
Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of David Cutcliffe’s weekly press conference were his comments regarding his former Tennessee pupil, Arian Foster.
Last week, Sports Illustrated published comments from Foster, the Houston texans’ running back, saying he accepted impermissible benefits during his senior season at Tennessee.
Cutcliffe was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator in 2006 and 2007, Foster’s junior and senior seasons, before he became Duke’s head coach for the 2008 season.
Here are Foster’s comments, which became public last Friday.
“I don't know if this will throw us into an NCAA investigation -- my senior year, I was getting money on the side,” Foster said in the interview for the upcoming documentary Schooled: The Price of College Sports. “I really didn't have any money. I had to either pay the rent or buy some food. I remember the feeling of like, 'Man, be careful.' But there's nothing wrong with it. And you're not going to convince me that there is something wrong with it.”
Cutcliffe offered a different opinion.
“That may have been as weak of interview as I’ve heard,” Cutcliffe said. “Arian never looked hungry.”
When asked, Cutcliffe said that yes, Foster’s scholarship covered his room and board.
“It pays for food and rent,” Cutcliffe said. “On game day, when you go back to your dorm, you usually got $15 in meal money, and you could buy, I don’t know, 10 tacos maybe.”
As for the on-going debate about whether scholarships should cover costs beyond tuition, books, room and board, Cutcliffe offered a word of caution.
“Let me tell you what it’s going to do,” Cutcliffe said. “All of that is going to make it so expensive to come to a college athletics event that nobody is going to want to come.”
And Cutcliffe disagrees with the on-going national debate over whether or not college athletes are treated fairly.
“We’re not abusing kids,” Cutcliffe said. “There’s a lot of uniformed people that haven’t seen the day-to-day. I’m pretty qualified to be informed. We’re not going to let a youngster starve. Before they starve, I’m going to break an NCAA rule to make sure they eat. I’m going to take them home if they can’t pay their rent. If we get to that point, I’m going to house them. It’s not the case. It’s not the case.”
Questions on defense – After allowing 38 and 58 points over the last two weeks in ACC losses to Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh, Duke’s defense is under the microscope this week.
Cutcliffe wasn’t ready to say that schematic changes are necessary. It’s just a matter of executing the plays better.
“It’s not about what you do, it’s how you do it,” Cutcliffe said. “You have to do it well. Not just know what to do.”
Cutcliffe did say that the young defensive backs who saw a lot of playing time in the second of last week against Pittsburgh have earned more playing time.
Those players are freshman cornerbacks Breon Borders and Bryon Fields as well as safety Deondre Singleton.
“They played real well,” Cutcliffe said. “We’re getting more and more comfortable with their comfort level with what they are doing. They proved that Saturday. You are going to see more and more of those guys. We are going to try to continue to elevate the athleticism of this team and those guys certainly do that.”
Borders, who had played 41 snaps over Duke’s first three games, played 50 snaps against Pittsburgh. Fields played 58 (after playing 33 over the first three games) and Singleton played 59 snaps against Pittsburgh.
Doubts about Brown, Norman – Linebacker Kelby Brown (leg) and safety Dwayne Norman (leg), both starters, were injured and unavailable in the second half of the 58-55 loss to Pittsburgh.
Neither is practicing so far this week as they attempt to rehabilitate their injuries and return to play.
“They are working hard trying to get themselves back,” Cutcliffe said.
Starting safety Corbin McCarthy (ankle) didn’t play against Pittsburgh after rolling his ankle in practice last week. But he has returned to practice, on a limited basis, this week.
Defensive end Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, who made his season debut against Pittsburgh after missing the season’s first three games with an ankle injury, is looking strong in practice and should be available for Saturday’s game with Troy (3 p.m., ESPN3).