Soaking in the victory's glow
David Cutcliffe is just fine with his team taking a little time to savor something special.
Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils posted an historic win on Saturday, winning at then No. 16 Virginia Tech 13-10 to post the program’s first win over a ranked team since 1994 and the first road win over a ranked team since 1971.
Bowl-eligible for the second consecutive year, the Blue Devils (6-2, 2-2 in ACC) don’t play again until a Nov. 9 home game with N.C. State.
That allows the team to enjoy the upset over the Hokies, who fell out of the top 25 on Sunday as a result of their loss to Duke.
“We are fortunate that we’ve got an open date,” Cutcliffe said. “I told them last night it’s OK to enjoy this thing for a couple of days.”
The Blue Devils don’t return to the practice field until Tuesday. They will hold 90-minute practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before getting two full days off.
Cutcliffe said he’s even telling the coaches to take a couple of days away from their offices.
“I’m trying to get them to re-energize,” Cutcliffe said.
The excitement around the program is certainly high following the Blue Devils’ first win over Virginia Tech since 1981.
On Sunday, Duke received a bit of national notoriety by receiving two points in the Associated Press top 25 poll. Last season, after winning five of their first six games en route to the program’s first bowl game since 1994, the Blue Devils also received a vote during one October poll.
In light of the win over the Hokies on Saturday, two voters from the 60-member panel had Duke at No. 25 on their ballots for Sunday’s poll.
Pulling upsets and receiving top 25 votes, Cutcliffe said, are just another part of the growth of Duke football. It must continue, he said.
“If we can continue it, it can mean a great deal to the recruiting process, the intensity that surrounds a program,” Cutcliffe said. “I’m a believer in expectations. When you go into certain circumstances when the expectations are extreme, the performance can be extreme. I believe it’s critical to create expectations.”
Individually, one Duke player received national recognition for his performance against Virginia Tech. Redshirt junior linebacker Kelby Brown was named national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Brown had 14 tackles (four solo), including a tackle for loss, plus a fourth-quarter interception.
Cutcliffe praised his entire linebacker corps for their high level of play against the Hokies. Linebacker David Helton had 19 tackles.
“They were unbelievably active,” Cutcliffe said.
As for Brown, who missed last season while recovering from the second torn knee ligament of his Duke career, Cutcliffe sees him improving with time.
“I’m real proud of him,” Cutcliffe said. “Kelby Brown is getting healthier. That’s one of the big things. When you see Kelby playing at full strength, you are going to see a guy who is an all-American player.”
On the injury front, the bye week will allow the players to heal and rest from a physical game at Virginia Tech. Cornerback Ross Cockrell, in particular, isn’t expected to practice this week as he recovers from an ankle injury. An all-ACC performer, Cockrell played sparingly in the second half on Saturday.
Cutcliffe said the full extent of Cockrell’s injury has yet to be determined. He is receiving treatment and more information will be available as the week progresses.
“We’re still waiting to see after he gets moving around a little bit more,” Cutcliffe said