Duke coach David Cutcliffe lost time on Sunday as he washed his wife's car and arrived a few minutes late for a his evening teleconference. He called the car washing therapy, following the Blue Devils' 21-16 loss to Maryland on Sunday – the team's fourth consecutive loss of the season.
Cutcliffe, rushing to finish, said he did a "pretty good" job at washing the car, something he said that would have been unacceptable to his late father, who would have sent the coach back to keep working.
His football team did a pretty good job against the Terrapins on Saturday, and though that was encouraging, their performance was also unacceptable. Cutcliffe said they Devils (1-4, 0-2) will approach the upcoming off week and seven remaining games on their schedule with the mentality of getting better in every practice and on every play.
"We're at a point where it's all just one game at a time," he said.
Cutcliffe said the Devils must reverse their negative turnover trend, improving on a -6 turnover margin. They are ranked 12th in that statistic in the 12-team ACC.
"We're rock-bottom there," Cutcliffe said, adding, "If you take care of the ball you'd be shocked what could happen."
Still, Duke's third-year coach saw improvement against the Terps, especially on defense where the Devils were sharper, applying pressure up front and shutting down receivers.
They played like they practiced on defense.
"When you lose a game you always try to find things to get better at, so we just went into practice with the mindset that we have to get better this week," Duke safety Walt Canty said. "We had a great week of practice, and when you have a great week of practice, that is how you perform. When you don't practice during the week, you're not going to perform well."
The Devils will practice three days this week in preparation for their home game against Miami (3-1, 1-0) on Oct. 16.
Cutcliffe said "there's no doubt" that his team can improve. He said his players were encouraged by their marked improvement on Saturday yet disappointed at their mistakes.
The losses have taken a toll, though haven't depleted their belief in themselves.
"It was pretty ugly after Alabama and Army," Cutcliffe said, adding that player spirits weren't as low on Saturday. "They were spent, but not down. They knew they had played better."
But just better, like "pretty good," is not where they ultimately envision finishing.
"We have a lot of getting better to do," Cutcliffe said.