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Virginia vs. Duke
Duke Coach Quotes
October 31, 2009

Head coach David Cutcliffe
Opening statement

“I am really proud of our entire operation. That was a complete football game, but certainly not an easy game. My hat is off to Virginia – they were well prepared, they played extremely hard and they made it difficult for us on offense. They were a tough match-up for us. The best part of it was that we were relentless. We kept playing. I told Kurt [Roper] to just keep throwing it, we gave up (six) sacks, but the end results were good. I knew we had a tough match-up in the red zone, and I was too prophetic. I said to our coaches earlier in the week that when the field gets shorter and we are physically mis-matched, their secondary is really powerful and quick and it got a little tough for us down there but our offense kept playing. Our defense played a complete football game. They had a lot of big hits, did a tremendous job of stopping the run, and a tremendous job of competing and challenging every pass. Our kicking game – five field goals, wow, what can you say – it was huge. We still have things to shore up in the kicking game as we continue to move forward, but I could not be more proud of a group of people.”

On looking back at the game and the fact that Duke was trailing with four minutes left
“It all was an explosion. When you kick field goals like we did in the first half, you just know, experience tells you that you are going to have to overcome a deficit. So I was not surprised when Virginia came out, did a good job and took the lead. So I was not overly concerned, but it was a pretty amazing finish on our team’s part. It does not happen just because you want it to. It takes a lot of courage against a front like that coming at you at quarterback, an absolutely perfect route run by Conner Vernon, focus to catch it – when you are playing zero coverage there is nobody else there. So tremendous execution on the touchdown. The fumble return for a score is not an accident either. That is pressure, persistence in rush, and awareness to quickly scoop and score. Our defense was tremendous at that point.”

On Thaddeus Lewis’ ability to hang tough in the pocket
“Thad Lewis knew he was going to have a tough day of pass rush. End on end, we talked to him about it, but he is a tough son-of-a-gun and does a good job of keeping his eyes down field. They are so big up front that they are very difficult to see through sometimes. They got their hands on the ball a little bit too much, we did throw an interception, but we were fortunate. But Thad was tremendous in never faltering, never backing off – he kept it full throttle. He is one of those guys that has a lot of talent, and if he just keeps keeping on he is going to make big plays.”

On Duke’s performance and momentum from three and out after the interception
“That was a big stage in the game, and we had them back on the 20-yard-line. They did the natural thing to try and run the football, and they really did not have a ton of success running the ball so our guys responded. It was huge. When they threw the touchdown pass to take the lead I went immediately to the defense and said, ‘guys, that is OK. We are going to score a touchdown somewhere in here.’ I kept telling them it is the next series that they had to focus on. They needed to energize for the next series. And they did a good job of it. I think our conditioning really paid off, and our front continued to play really fast defensively.”

On the Duke players as fighters week after week
“It is consistency of practice habits. We have great young men that buy in to what we ask them to do. They have never questioned how hard we practice, how much we run and how much we push them. That is a great tribute to the kind of young people they are.”

On Thaddeus Lewis’ success in three straight weeks against veteran quarterbacks
“Our guy, if you look what he has done over the past four weeks, tell me a quarterback that has played better. The guy we have never gets mentioned, and that is OK if that is what you want to do, but show me one playing better. We just do not get the highlights. I was talking to Sean Renfree as the game was going on and telling him to just keep competing – what a great lesson for our young quarterbacks to see.”

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