Tag Archives: Michael Tauiliili
Wednesday’s print edition features a story called “Former Players, Forever Fans” about past Duke football players cheering for this year’s Blue Devils. In the second episode of X’s and O’s, in which Chronicle writers offer the story behind the story, Ben Cohen talks more about the players, how they feel about the team’s newfound success and whether they take some credit for it.
As always, Ben Cohen and Matthew Iles met to discuss Duke’s 31-3 ACC win over Virginia Saturday. Some key points to the discussion: the stalwart performance of the defense, the emerging of freshman running back Jay Hollingsworth, the future of Duke’s running backs and a different type of game from quarterback Thaddeus Lewis.
You might notice the sound quality is better for this episode. Tip of the hat to Sports Blog reader Dan Romero, who introduced us to another sound studio on campus. The rest of our recordings will be up to this standard.
When you’ve been as bad as Duke as has been over the last four seasons and then open 3-1 and win your first ACC game since 2004 in convincing fashion… well, expect lots of recognition. Especially when you’re the counterpart of perhaps the most famous team in the country, when you’ve hired an outspoken coach who has walked the walk and, more than anything, when you deserve it.
One game after Thaddeus Lewis and Vincent Rey were named ACC offensive and defensive players of the week, linebacker Michael Tauiliili was awarded ACC defensive lineman of the week after his career day against Virginia. The senior collected a team-high 16 tackles, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and intercepted one of four Marc Verica picks on the day. He now leads the conference with 46 tackles. The ACC honor comes one day after he was named national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Foundation.
Not surprisingly, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe was effusive in his praise for Tauiliili Sunday, one day after proclaiming he would vote for Tauiliili and Rey as co-winners of the Butkus Award for the country’s best linebacker.
“He’s certainly improved his game,” Cutcliffe said Sunday. “He’s playing at a much faster pace. He’s a much better tackler. I think he’s grown as much as anybody on our team to this point, since we’ve been here.”
Cutcliffe paused. Perhaps prompted by a pause on the teleconference, he decided to continue.
“I think he’s playing like an All-American linebacker, personally.”
Cutcliffe has made some outlandish claims this year, chief among them the assertion that Duke’s student section is the best in the country. We know that’s not true—but this one about Tauiliili might be.
In her chat on ESPN.com, ACC blogger Heather Dinich hinted Tauiliili and Rey might be the frontrunners for ACC defensive player of the year right now. She also included Cutcliffe as the favorite for coach of the year—at least right now. Of course, reality will hit soon. Duke hasn’t played an away game and has only faced off with the worst team in the conference. Might be time to enjoy it while it lasts.
Then again, if the Blue Devils can, somehow, manage three more wins and become bowl-eligible… Jake from North Carolina on Dinich’s chat said it best: “…does Cutcliffe get pronounced coach of the year, king, and any other title he wants?”
—by Ben Cohen
DUKE LOOK EVEN BETTER: With Navy’s 24-17 upset over No. 18 Wake forest and Northwestern’s road victory against Iowa, two teams on Duke’s schedule made the Blue Devils look even better. No one is going to mistake Duke’s opponents as anything close to SEC-caliber, but it does help that its non-conference foes are holding their own against legitimate competition.
QUOTE OF THE DAY II:When asked about the students chanting Cutcliffe’s name during the game, as they did against James Madison, too, Cutcliffe responded: “I’ve been in this business a long time, and I’ve had it chanted the other way. Add something, leave town, whatever adjective…and not that our sweet students would do that, but…”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: David Cutcliffe is an affable and gregarious coach, especially after wins. Conditioning has been the buzz word of the season, especially after wins. The combination added up to one of the best quotes we’ve ever heard, straight from Cutcliffe’s mouth: “I saw the fattest, softest football team I had ever seen in my life. I did! We had a 30, 40-minute workout and about a quarter of the way into it, I blew my whistle and stopped it, I was laughing. I said, ‘I’m sorry, guys, I gotta stop this. Y’all are the fattest, softest football team I’ve ever seen in my life. This is unbelievable.’ I hollered to the staff and I said, ‘The goose has laid the golden egg at our feet!’ We just get in shape and we’re gonna win four or five games around here!”
GAME STORY: First write-through up on The Chronicle’s website.
POSTGAME THOUGHTS: Finally back from the Yoh Football Center, where the Duke post-game interviews took about an hour. The star of the show was undoubtedly defensive lineman Clifford Respress, who even gave his own opening statement. The general theme of the players’ and Cutcliffe’s comments? Conditioning. Of course, that’s been the story all year, but perhaps none more so than today, when Duke absolutely dominated the second half…. For that matter, mea culpa on one of my statistics before. Duke forced six turnovers–four interceptions and two fumbles–not four. It does, however, further my point…. Cutcliffe said he benched Jabari Marshall after Marshall’s excessive celebration penalty because he wasn’t going to allow such behavior to go without retribution. Continue reading