A local newspaper today asked what motivation Duke had for this Saturday’s game against Charlotte.
Here’s Andrew Carter’s question: “What is the motivation for a struggling team at the midpoint of the season coming out of an off-week? . . . . Charlotte, it would seem has a lot to play for, what with going against an ACC opponent. But Duke?”
It’s not an unreasonable question. Charlotte is 2-2, with a winning season in its grasp. The 1-5 Devils would have to run the five-game table to finish above .500. Charlotte has never played an in-state ACC team. A Conference USA team beating an ACC team would raise eyebrows in a way that an ACC team beating a Conference USA team would not.
Duke defensive tackle Ben Frye ZOOMed with the media today and addressed that question.
“You can look at it and say that our record isn’t what we want it to be. But as a competitor, a competitive mindset is each week is a new week and if you don’t come into it with the same attitude you started with you’re going to lose games. We have as much to play for as we want to play for. Every week resets. We don’t let our guard down just because we’ve lost before. Short memories.”
Frye is part of a defensive-line cohort that may need to keep the pressure on Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds in order to take some pressure off a young defensive backfield.
“It’s always important to get after the quarterback, creating pressure. It makes it easier on the backfield. Yes, we’re dinged up but I think we’ve got some young guys back there . . . that we can count on to step up and get their jobs done. . . . It’s an opportunity for those guys and I think they’re going to take that opportunity. We’re going to get after him upfront and I think interceptions will happen.”
Speaking of interceptions, Chase Brice also addressed the media. David Cutcliffe told the media yesterday that Duke was concentrating on reducing the mistakes without reducing the aggressiveness.
“Preparation, practice and getting the little things accomplished. Throughout the game you can kind of get away from those little things and those little details and they’ll start adding up. Stick to my aggressive play and put the ball where I need to put it and also be smart.”
Key points during the bye-week?
“I was really focused in on accuracy and my foot work and timing plays up foot-work wise with my throws, working on my faking and those things that you take for granted.”
“First will be me giving my guys a chance, us coming down with the ball and also taking more shots, taking shots in a series of the game where you can catch them in a bad spot or where they can’t sense it coming. . . . also just continue playing fast, aggressive play.”
Sounds like maybe Duke’s head coach has talked to Duke’s offensive coordinator about predictability.
Frye and Brice agreed that the bye-week came at a good time.
“We needed it big-time” Brice said. “We have some banged up guys, some tired legs. . . . It was a much-needed bye. I’m super-excited to get back on the field.”