Duke Football: David Cutcliffe Press Conference Transcript

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: It’s a good time for us to have had an open date after nine straight games. Really impressed with our team spirit. We practiced yesterday morning. We practiced again this morning. They have been resourceful. These are as two of good of practices as we have had.

So certainly I know there’s hope that we can continue to improve and win some of these close games that we’ve had and then play better when we were in every game down the stretch. Three to go, so we’ll see what happens.

Q. Can you talk about how important it is after nine weeks and then four weeks of practice before that, for the players to take a mental break from football, as well as physical?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I think it’s a big deal. This is actually a five-week camp this year. This is the longest camp because of the rule change. So we started in July. Our first practice was in July, and then we played nine weeks in a row.

And I think it has some — I just heard Mark Richt talking about Thursdays. Players are going to school and the tests and the requirements along those lines and then when you’re playing every week, and particularly in our circumstance, where things got tougher each loss; I think they are stressed beyond physical. It’s emotional.

So we have had to take that into consideration. We’ve had shortened meetings. Shortened, not just brutally short, but less than an hour and a half on the field but we have gotten the quality we wanted from them and we are going to work even a little bit lighter tomorrow. And I want them away from it. They will be away from it Thursday evening, Friday, Saturday, and we won’t be back till Sunday night.

Q. In the last few games what have they shown you about your team that you think it’s possible to get in there and fix, some areas that you really want to work on?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, yeah, I don’t think there’s any question that it’s very evident to the players, to the coaches, offensively, we haven’t thrown and caught the ball with much efficiency like we had earlier in in the year. You know, giving up some explosive plays on defense. And it’s not been any literally just one thing.

We are a team. We have seven seniors that start for us. We’re playing a lot of young people. That’s not an excuse because our job is to have everybody ready.

But again, it’s probably consistency, and so one of the other reasons we shortened practice and talked to our coaches is because I wanted to see if we can go wire-to-wire at the highest level possible. I’m really impressed with the way our team has taken on that challenge.

Q. The early signing period, has that already changed the way you do recruiting in your calendar?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Not really the signing day. The 2019 class is going to be taking official visits in April, May, June, and I’m not in favor of that at all and that significantly changes their calendar, our calendar. Our class has committed for quite some time, and I don’t expect any surprises and — (audio break).

The early signing day isn’t really going to affect us. It’s the 2019 class early official visits. They are signing in December — but we have had our class committed for quite some time, so that portion of it has not really been a big issue to us.

Q. Will you be bringing in kids that signed for visits in January?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Most of our visits will be in December. That’s what our commitments have always wanted to do. If they can’t because of some scheduling circumstance, then we would bring them in. We may have three or so midyear enrollees, but most of our class will come in next summer.

So they can still make their official visits after they have signed with us, and we would go about what we do the same way. And what I was saying before is that December, January, we are going to — the biggest change is we are going to be having to do a great deal more evaluating of 2019 players because they are going to be wanting to make official visits in April. How do you know, you know. That’s a nightmare. That’s something I am totally against as far as legislation.

Q. Planning that time in summer, January — to start looking at kids?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Yeah, I’m going to go into homes and schools of everybody that we’re going to sign. I always have and always will. I want to know their families, the dynamic surrounding the family. My only chance to do that as a head coach is in December and January. So I’m going to do that.

But while I’m on the road, I’m going to have to be doing the best I can of evaluating 2019 players that may want to set up visits in April, and I’m not all in favor of just bringing people in that I don’t know enough about their character, their academics, let alone even their athleticism completely by that point.

So I’m going to be trying to go to basketball games and see athletes for what they are or just see workouts in the weight room. We’ve had a lot of conversation about that type thing as a staff is we’ve got to get as many evaluations in as we can with those young people.

Q. Would it make even more sense to push up the early signing period to September or August —
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Possibly. You know, with you again, we’ve tried to move up, move up, move up, and I’m not sure that’s the best approach to people making quality decisions. If you start looking at transfer rates in other sports, and now you even see like men’s lacrosse is trying to move all theirs back. These kids sign early, way early and next thing you know, they are at an institution a year and they don’t want to be there. I just don’t think that’s the healthiest approach.

Earlier is not always better, and I think we’ve got to be careful. I think we need a little bit more maturity in our approach as we study this, personally.