Football: Blue Devils serious about winning
Some notes from David Cutcliffe’s Tuesday press conference and Duke football player interviews:
Serious stakes at Blacksburg – Duke is heading to Virginia Tech this Saturday (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net South) needing one win to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season. No team in Blue Devils football history has played in back-to-back bowl games.
The No. 16 Hokies (6-1, 3-0 in the ACC) lead the Coastal Division so this game represents a significant challenge for the Blue Devils (5-2, 1-2).
With that in mind, the team’s captains and veteran players requested the coach David Cutcliffe allow them to hold a players-only meeting Tuesday morning prior to practice.
The idea is to keep the team focused on this challenge and don’t let the idea of winning six games again become the be-all, end-all.
“This is a big game for our program,” Duke quarterback Anthony Boone said. “It’s on the road. We wanted to talk to the guys. If you want to win this game, you have to be serious about it.”
Unlike last season, when Duke claimed win No. 6 to end an 18-year bowl drought but failed to win again, the team has bigger plans this season.
“This is about our goals besides just making a bowl game,” Boone said. “We are preparing for a very good Virginia Tech team, one of the best defensive teams in the country. We don’t want to go out there and say `Let’s take this loss and look past them.’ We want to beat everyone on our schedule.”
Cutcliffe thought the meeting was a positive sign.
“I told them `That’s awesome,’ Cutcliffe said.
Norman likely unavailable for Virginia Tech – Safety Dwayne Norman sprained an MCL in his knee during last Saturday’s 35-22 win at Virginia and Cutcliffe said Tuesday it doesn’t appear Norman will be able to play at Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Norman has started six of Duke’s seven games this season, only missing the Troy win because of a hamstring injury.
Duke’s depth chart for Virginia Tech lists the starting safeties as Jeremy Cash, Deondre Singleton and Corbin McCarthy.
Reserve cornerback Bryan Fields left the Virginia game with a head injury but has improved this week, Cutcliffe said. His availability for Virginia Tech sounds more promising than Norman’s. But no final decision has been made.
Reserve linebacker Kyler Brown has missed Duke’s last two games with a leg injury but has improved. He’s getting some work in practice but may still be a week away from returning.