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Devils need to up physical ante vs. Deacons

Duke coach David Cutcliffe acknowledged Tuesday that for his program to continue to move forward, the Blue Devils are going to have to end their 10-game losing streak against Wake Forest.

And to do that, they're going to have to up the physical ante against the Demon Deacons. Cutcliffe said he was happy with his defense's effort in Saturday's 41-27 win over Elon, but the Blue Devils made too many  mistakes. They'll have to fix that and face a far rougher and tougher opponent in Winston-Salem on Saturday.

Duke notes: Scott will start at tailback

DURHAM – Sophomore tailback Desmond Scott, who led Duke’s rushers with 262 yards last season, has earned the starting nod against Elon on Saturday because “he’s a player that’s good in every phase,’’ coach David Cutcliffe said.

“Whether that’s running screens, whether he’s a route runner or running the football – he’s got a nice knack of running the football,’’ Cutcliffe added Tuesday. “Maybe he’s not the fastest one, but he certainly finds a way to find seams and cracks, and he’s been the most consistent guy at gaining 4 and 5 yards, minimum, per carry. … And he’s taken care of the ball.”

After Duke scrimmage, there's competition at kicker

DURHAM – Duke coach David Cutcliffe said he’s not trying to create a kicking controversy, but after watching Friday night’s scrimmage, “there will be competition.”

Returning starter Will Snyderwine made only one of three field goals – making one from 32 yards, but missing from 30 and 38 – while senior Nick Maggio connected from 20 yards out, and missed from 55.

Duke's Sarmiento has knee surgery

DURHAM -- Duke redshirt freshman Sydney Sarmiento, a reserve defensive end, had his knee scoped Tuesday “but we expect him back soon,’’ coach David Cutcliffe said.

“He’s got a chance [to be back] before the season [beings],’’ he added. “It’s one of those things, you see those guys sometimes after scopes back in six days. But it just depends on how receptive his body is to the surgery they did.”

Duke notes: Receivers hamstrung

DURHAM – Sophomore Conner Vernon said he thinks Duke’s wide receiving corps can be the best in the ACC.

But it needs to get healthy, first.

Although Vernon and All-ACC wideout Donovan Varner returned to limited practice Tuesday morning, Austin Kelly – the third starting receiver in the group – sat out. Kelly and Vernon sustained hamstring injuries during Monday night’s scrimmage, while Varner sat out the scrimmage because of a hurt hamstring, as well.

Renfree shines, receivers hurt in Duke scrimmage

DURHAM – Duke coach David Cutcliffe was pleased with the play of new starting quarterback Sean Renfree during the team’s first scrimmage Monday night, particularly considering he was without some of his better receivers.
Starter Donovan Varner, a first-team All-ACC wideout last season, was on the sidelines in a black “do not hit” jersey because of a hamstring injury.

Duke notes: Renfree feeling good after first practice

DURHAM -- No Duke player was more eager to start fall practice Monday night than quarterback Sean Renfree, who tore his ACL last November and had to sit out spring drills while he rehabbed. Coach David Cutcliffe was impressed with how the sophomore – who must replace four-year starter Thad Lewis -- threw the ball and managed the offense during his first official practice back.

Most significant for Renfree was that he never gave his surgically repaired knee a thought.

Duke's Cutcliffe gets 'a little charge' out of preseason poll

GREENSBORO -- The last time Duke was picked to finish better than last in the ACC, or at least its conference division, in the league's Football Kickoff Preseason Poll was 1999 (when the Blue Devils were predicted to finish seventh).

So head coach David Cutcliffe was pleased to see that his team, which won five games last season, was chosen to finish fifth in the talent-heavy Coastal Division. In all, it racked up the 10th-most points (169) from the voting media out of 12 teams.

Diagramming plays, coining phrases

Duke head coach and offensive guru David Cutcliffe has a solid reputation for expanding his playbook. Now, he's working on padding out the dictionary.

Asked to describe the changes on defense for the Blue Devils, who are moving away from a strict 4-3 scheme, Cutcliffe said, "What we're switching to is 'multicality.' "

Respect "off the roof" for Duke's Cutcliffe

GREENSBORO — Duke center Bryan Morgan laughed when asked, for at least the third time Sunday, what it felt like when head coach David Cutcliffe chose to stay at Duke last season, rather than leave for Tennessee.

"I love this question,'' Morgan said, grinning, at the ACC Kickoff. "We were sweating bullets, people asking me, 'Bryan, do you know anything?' and me saying, 'How would I? I'm in the same position you are.' [His decision] just showed how much faith he has in us, how much he's put into our program and rebuilding our program into an elite program.

"And that means a lot. If you think that we had respect for him before that -- whoa. It's off the roof now. It was just great to hear that, because it would have been easy for him to go to Tennessee. ... He knows the place so well, but it meant so much for him to stay."

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