Tag Archives: David Cutcliffe

LeBron, Not Coach K, Still The Chosen One

When he’s not going by King, LeBron James has been dubbed The Chosen One—or at least, he has since Sports Illustrated pegged him with that title when the King-in-waiting was only a high school junior in 2002. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski coached James this summer as he guided Team USA to a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics.

One day, he told students at “Have a Coke with Coach Cut” Wednesday in the Great Hall, Krzyzewski was talking with James and the superstar had his shirt off, showing off the tattoo on his back that reads “The Chosen One.” Krzyzewski noticed the body ink and asked if he could get a tattoo of the same ilk.

“Coach, I really like you a lot, but no one would choose you,” Krzyzewski recalled James saying to the delight of the approximately 200 students in attendance.

—by Ben Cohen

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Q&A With Larry Coker

Larry Coker was one disputed pass interference call away from leading Miami to back-to-back national championships in 2001 and 2002. Now, he’s the color analyst for ESPNU and has covered three of Duke’s games this year—its wins over Navy and Virginia and its loss to Georgia Tech. The Chronicle’s Ben Cohen caught up with Coker Tuesday to discuss his impressions of the Blue Devils, his recruitment of Duke defensive lineman Vince Oghobaase and his prediction for this weekend as Duke welcomes the Hurricanes.

How does this year’s Duke team compare to the teams that you coached against?

I think it’s probably the best that’s been around in a few years.

You’ve seen the pass-catch combination of Thaddeus Lewis and Eron Riley three times this year. What kind of potential do they have on the next level?

They have a lot of potential, they could be Sunday-type players, especially if Lewis can get some help with the running game—it’s going to make him a lot better. I know Harris is doing a pretty good job, Hollingsworth did a nice job the last time I saw him [against Virginia Sept. 27]. I think [Lewis and Riley] are both Sunday-type players.

Given linebacker Michael Tauiliili’s season so far, is he the favorite for ACC Defensive Player of the Year?

I don’t know that—I know he has all-league potential. Vince Oghobaase, too.

Were you surprised Oghobaase came to Duke instead of other highly touted programs?

Yes, I think it was a decision he and his family made for his eduaction and for the right reasons, but i was surpsirsed. I thought he would probably end up… it was Duke or [Miami]. I thought we were going to get him.

Can all the changes from this year’s team to those of the last few years be attributed to change at the top of the program, starting with Cutcliffe?

Well, it was the previous staff that recruited these players. Ted Roof did a really good job recruiting and this was kind of the year that he had built for. But the new staff and attitude of David Cutcliffe and the stamp he puts on this team and the staff he’s put around him—it just personifies those good players that have matured.

How difficult is it for Lewis to succeed if he doesn’t have a legitimate running threat?

It’s pretty hard. You’re going to get a lot of different pressure. If you can run the football, it makes a lot of difference how you put pressure on the passer. I think it’s pretty hard to just be a good passing team and not being able to run the ball.

What are your thoughts on this weekend’s Duke-Miami matchup?

Miami’s got a lot of talent. That’s going to be the key, whether Duke can protect the quarterback. If they can, they’ll have some chances in the passing game. Defensively, Duket is pretty good. Javaris James, the running back, will help Miami. Miami didn’t play well last week, so they’ll want to step out of the shell and play great. It’ll be a challenge for Duke—it’ll be a really good game. It’s kind of a tossup game.

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Krzyzewski To Join Cutcliffe For Cokes and Nachos Wednesday

When David Cutcliffe meets with students Wedneday to break down game film and sip Coca-Colas, he will be accompanied by the only coach more prominent than he is: Mike Krzyzewski.

Coach K himself will join Cutcliffe in the Great Hall for soda and nachos at 8 p.m. Both he and Cutcliffe will take questions from the gathered students (no word on whether Krzyzewski will analyze football film).

Krzyzewski’s squad tips its season Saturday with the annual Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage at 1 p.m. preceding Cutcliffe’s team’s home game against Miami at 3:30 p.m. Krzyzewski will open his practice to the public Friday at 5 p.m.

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Tennessee Struggles Without Cutcliffe

The last 10 years have proven that Philip Fulmer’s Tennessee teams were better when David Cutcliffe was the offensive coordinator. But few, if any, would have thought that Cutcliffe’s new team would have a better record than his old squad five weeks into the season. Yet that’s exactly how the 3-2 Blue Devils find themselves—or at least found themselves before a 27-0 thumping from Georgia Tech—as 2-3 Tennessee struggles in the SEC, with more hits likely to come soon.

The Volunteers travel to No. 10 Georgia this weekend bogged down by a debilitating batch of statistics. ESPN’s Chris Low, the SEC blogger, writes that Cutcliffe never lost to Georgia when he was at Tennessee, and his offense was held to under four touchdowns just once in nine games. In games at Athens, Ga., moreover, Cutcliffe’s unit averaged 35.4 points in five games. In three contests without him, that number has dropped to 14.

Take a look at Duke and Tennessee’s scoring numbers this year, and you’ll see that Cutcliffe, and perhaps not Fulmer, was the mind behind the Volunteer dynasty (listed as Duke/UT):

  • SCORING PER GAME: 24.6/18.0
  • PASSING PER GAME: 205.6/171.2
  • TOTAL OFFENSE: 324.4/317.6
  • TOUCHDOWNS: 15/11

Sure, Tennessee gets roughed up in the SEC while Duke pals around in the ACC, right? Not so fast. The Volunteers have played Florida and Auburn, but this site ranks Duke’s strength of schedule No. 10 in the country, while the Volunteers toil at No. 33. Maybe it’s some Cutcliffe magic, after all.

—by Ben Cohen

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ACC Sees Topsy-Turvy Weekend

There are the long-term surprises—Georgia Tech is 4-1! Miami has more losses than Duke! A respected columnist predicts an 11-1 record for North Carolina!—and then there are the more immediate shocks.

Virginia 31, Maryland 0 qualifies for the latter. If you had told any college football fan that Virginia, just one week after being trounded 31-3 by Duke, would turn around and shut out Maryland, one week removed from shocking preseason top-10 Clemson, the laughter would have been louder than the calls for Al Groh’s firing. Same scenario, albeit on a smaller level, with Florida State and Miami’s shootout, or the Tar Heels’ pounding of No. 24 Connecticut.

The ACC might not be a good league, but it certainly has the parity to satisfy any rabid football enthusiast, even if that same equanimity might hinder the league in the eyes of the BCS committee. The ACC has only three teams in the top 25, and none in the top 15. Yet somehow, it has, week after week, proven to produce exciting, unexpected and, in the case of Virginia-Maryland, downright flabbergasting results.

“Nobody is going to tell me they predicted that,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said of the Cavaliers’ win, although he could have been talking about the league in general. “It’s a funny game. It’s not all decided by looking at the results of one game. That’s just part of this crazy game. We will be trying to figure it out, but, again, I don’t know how you measure that.”

Indeed, it is an upside-down league. Duke’s season might be judged a failure if it doesn’t go to a bowl, North Carolina’s might be a failure if it doesn’t go to the ACC Championship and no frontrunner—Bueller? Bueller?—has yet to emerge in the Atlantic Division.

That’s why I’m circling one game to watch next weekend: Gardner Webb at Georgia Tech, 3:30 p.m.

Rock on, Runnin’ Bulldogs.

—by Ben Cohen

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After Loss, Duke Still Gets Coaches’ Poll Vote

The day after the Blue Devils lost to Georgia Tech 27-0, Duke received a vote in the coaches’ poll. Again.

Last week, the mysterious coach was justified in handing the 3-1 Blue Devils a No. 25 tally. An AP voter once told us that the trick to voting is sneaking in one or two unparalleled choices: no one remembers a bad prediction, and the voter looks great if the team validates the vote. That is, if Duke had gone down to Atlanta and stomped the Yellow Jackets, it might have been ranked this week.

But a vote now? After a 27-0 loss? There are more than 25 teams better than the Blue Devils–this weekend proved that.

“Oh Lord, I don’t know who would do that,” head coach David Cutcliffe said Sunday.

Cutcliffe immediately suspected the coach he named last Sunday: South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, who made his name at Duke. But Spurrier told The Chronicle he wasn’t the culprit last week.

“He must be in a real good mood, he beat Ole Miss yesterday, so maybe he didn’t see our score,” Cutcliffe said of Spurrier. “But whoever did it didn’t see our score yesterday. It’s much appreciated, and we’ll try to live up to it next time out.”

–by Ben Cohen

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Talking Football: Duke-Georgia Tech Video Preview

Fifth episode of Talking Football, this time filmed on the Bryan Center Plaza. Both Cohen and Iles pick Georgia Tech to beat Duke, and for different reasons. Some points of discussion: the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense, how playing Navy will help Duke and whether Georgia Tech’s defense can stop Thaddeus Lewis and Eron Riley.

Feel free to offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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