Duke head coach David Cutcliffe wants to get Jela Duncan more involved this week after the redshirt ...

Week 3: Quick hits from Lunch with Cut

Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly press conference Tuesday, addressing the Blue Devils' recent 24-14 loss to Wake Forest and their upcoming matchup against Northwestern. Duke (1-1) faces the Wildcats (0-2) at Ryan Field Saturday at 8 p.m. Here are some of the more notable sound bytes from Cutcliffe’s press conference:

Wake Forest exposed weaknesses on both sides of the ball for the Blue Devils. After scoring 49 points in the season-opener against N.C. Central, Duke's offense often stalled after reaching midfield. The offensive line was especially woeful, surrendering five sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Although Daniel Jones finished with 332 passing yards, the Charlotte native committed three turnovers and struggled with his accuracy.

The Blue Devil defense also failed to stop explosive plays, as the Demon Deacons recorded six plays of at least 20 yards. Wake Forest running back Cade Carney took advantage of holes in Duke’s defensive line to rush for 108 yards and three touchdowns—including a 55-yard scamper that broke a 14-14 tie.

“I mentioned after the [Wake Forest] game that our team played really hard, and they did. They gave their best. But sometimes your best isn’t your best… The best means pushing yourself to the next step and the next level. And the only way that will happen is with work. Right now, we are a work in progress.”

Like Duke, Northwestern has struggled out of the gates, losing its first two games at home against Western Michigan and Illinois State. Although the Wildcat defense has surrendered just 31 points this season, Northwestern's offense has failed to generate a passing attack. Quarterback Clayton Thorson has recorded fewer than 200 yards through the air in each of the first two games. The Wildcats’ rushing attack also struggled against Illinois State after All-Big Ten running back Justin Jackson suffered a lower-body injury. Jackson is expected to play against the Blue Devils.

“[Northwestern] will be as well-coached a team as we will play… Obviously they’re somewhat like us right now, trying to find the formula.”

Duke’s offensive struggles against Wake Forest were in part a product of the Blue Devils’ inability to establish a rushing attack. The Demon Deacons loaded the box with seven defenders, daring Duke to pass. As a result, the Blue Devils rushed for 37 yards on 30 carries, and running backs Jela Duncan and Shaun Wilson combined to carry the ball just once in the second half.

Moving forward, the Blue Devils will look to run the ball more effectively in order to keep opposing defenses off balance and create more opportunities to throw downfield.

“You have to look at the formations and what you do to allow yourself to run the ball regardless of what the [opposing defense does]. I can do a better job of that.”

The Blue Devils have been unable to make up for the departures of All-American kicker Ross Martin and punter and placeholder Will Monday so far. Against Wake Forest, freshman kicker A.J. Reed missed field goal tries of 30 and 43 yards in the first half, preventing the Blue Devils from building on an early 7-0 lead. Duke also experienced special teams troubles against N.C. Central when Monday's replacement—redshirt freshman Austin Parker—fumbled a punt snap.

“Right now, I don’t think there’s anybody that I’m pleased with in [place-kicking]… It’s got to be every part of it—snap, hold and kick. I wasn’t pleased today with the consistency with what I’m looking at.”

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