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Quotes: Miami 52, Duke 45
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 11/24/2012
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Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe
On the game and second-half effort:
“We played hard, not totally well, in the second half. The first half we didn’t have any phase of our football team playing well, which falls on my shoulders. Actually we didn’t play well offensively [in the first half]. We only scored 10 points against a defense that’s in my opinion fairly average. Defensively [in the first half] we played poorly and in the kicking game, particularly in the area of returns we played poorly. So we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. The second half we certainly made some plays offensively. There was some definitive progress I’d say. I’m not very happy about any of it, but defensively there were flashes, but only flashes and if I were a return man on kickoffs I wouldn’t get out there behind that bunch blocking for our kickoff return men. All of that falls in my area of responsibility. We have a team that plays against us that averages almost 10 yards a play and 15 receptions averaging about 25 yards a catch. We got a back that averages 11 yards a carry against us. You’re not going to win football games, period, end of story. I told them I commend them for playing hard in the second half. We’re not into consulting people about getting beat and we didn’t ever really give ourselves a good chance.”

On starting the season 6-1 being a hindrance to the progression of the team:
“I don’t think it is, but I don’t know that. Obviously I‘ve given that some thought. We haven’t played really good since the North Carolina game. I don’t think it’s because we haven’t practiced well, but it falls under my area of responsibility and we haven’t played good. I told them that at halftime. I told everybody in this program that at halftime. It’s unacceptable. Part of the progress is getting better every game you play year to year, but also during the season. We made mistakes in the 12th game you shouldn’t be making in the 12th game and that bothers me greatly.”

On senior wide receiver Conner Vernon:
“Anybody that thinks we’re not going to miss Conner [Vernon] is crazy. Good gosh, the production, the plays that other people don’t make. He is just a fierce competitor. Let’s just go beyond just catches, go beyond just touchdowns. It’s the number of first downs that he’s made, the number of big plays, fourth-down receptions, go back and count that through his career. He’s one of the more clutch players I’ve seen. I certainly hope, and I know there’s a lot of good players in this league, if he’s not first team All-ACC I don’t know that I’ll be bothered to fool with it anymore. I hope people that are voting, the media that are voting, there’s a coaches team out there. If he can’t be first team All-ACC I don’t know what one looks like anymore. That’s what I would say. He’s an All-American. He is a first team All-American. I want someone to show me a player that has done more over a career than he has. Certainly nobody in the ACC has. In a circumstance that he played in, let’s face it we weren’t great around him all the time. We’re getting better, not to be confused with where we’re going to be and we’ve got to be there quickly.”

On preparing for the bowl game:
“I told the players we’ve got a busy calendar. There is nothing more important than finishing strong academically. We’ll have a combination of their lifting calendars in place while we’re recruiting. I’m going to be gone all the next two weeks. We’ll work some practices on the weekends. They’ll also do some of their self practice like they do in the summer. They’ll stay sharp, we’ll lift, we’ll stay into some conditioning work. Then we’ll come back on the weekend of December 7, 8 and 9 and have some full-fledged practices. Then we’re back on the road recruiting. That’s finals week and come back and go in earnest from about the 16th and depending on where we’re playing we’ll know when we’re breaking, if we’re breaking for Christmas and what we’ll do. We have about three schedules set for that. So we’ll get a lot of practice days out of this. We have a chance to get better. To me the bowl games are the last game of the 2012 season, but I also view it as the first game of the 2013 season and that’s how we’re going to play it.”

Duke CB Ross Cockrell
On the Blue Devils’ performance in the second half:
“We continued to fight, but at the end of the day, you want victories. You can’t really be proud of a loss.”

On the team’s 6-6 record and probable bowl game berth:
“We were 6-2 and we knew we were going to a bowl game early in the season, but we’ve got a lot of things to correct and a lot of things to work on.”

On what can be improved in the break before the bowl game:
“We’re definitely focused on the bowl game and winning the bowl game. We have one game left to right the ship and get ready for the off-season.”

Duke WR Jamison Crowder
On his 99-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Sean Renfree:
“On the 99-yarder … it’s a play where I’m supposed to run a 15-yard comeback. But when I came to the line, I saw that they were in a cover two, according to the way the corner was lined up. The safety was supposed to be over the top, but when the ball was snapped, the corner stayed right there at his depth and I saw the safety shoot down. Instead of me running the comeback, I just kept going straight. The field was open and luckily Sean saw me. I threw my hand up, caught it and just scored to make sure I didn’t get caught from behind.”

On what the squad can take away from its persistence in the second half:
“The first half, we came out and we were real flat, a lot of mistakes. The second half, we came out and fought a little bit. We didn’t want the season to end like this, but Coach Cut[cliffe] knew that the way we came back and fought in the second half, it’s a lot of improvement but at the same time we still made some progress going out and showing we can compete in the second half … We still made progress as a team and as a program.”

On the feeling of knowing the team is most likely headed to a bowl game:
“It feels good. Just a little bittersweet – wish we could have pulled the game out today. But at the same time, like I said, we’re making progress, going to a bowl game for the Duke football program so  it feels good.”

Duke WR Conner Vernon
On going up against some players he knows from the Miami area:
“Some of those guys I played with – Brandon McGee, No. 21 – in high school. I know those guys. A lot of those guys are local guys. I don’t really know them personally but I do know of them, just being back home.”

On his two touchdown receptions from quarterback Sean Renfree:
“It was literally one of those bang-bang plays that Sean just gave me a chance, put it up there for me, and I was lucky enough to make a play. We’ve been doing that for three years now, and to end like that, it’s tough. Again, we fought hard in the second half, but we’ve got to play four quarters and not two.”

On the team’s probable bowl game berth:
“It’s still kind of bittersweet. You always want to win your last game, especially for the fans that came out and have been supporting us all year long. Just to know we could have done that much better is really what hurts.”

On what the team will work on in December in preparation for the bowl game and next season:
“Just keep working. This is the underclassmen’s audition for the coaches now. This is basically another spring practice for them. They’ve got 15 practices to get ready for the bowl game. And for us seniors, it’s kind of just one of those things to leave our legacy at Duke football. Not only the first senior class to go to a bowl game since ’94 but the first senior class to win a bowl game since a long time. That’s definitely the mindset we’re going to have going into it. And for those younger guys, it’s their team now. We’ve only got one month left with them, so it’s literally their team and we’re just going to pass down the reins to them.”

Miami Head Coach Al Golden
On the win:
“We’ve given up a lot. We gave up a bowl game last year. We’ve given up a bowl game this year, now we’ve given up a postgame in Charlotte, a championship game in Charlotte. We’ve given up three games in the postseason to right the ship and [we’re] really grateful to the team and the seniors. I’m not surprised it was this type of game. I just told the team, it was such an emotional week. If you think about the range of emotions on Sunday … Monday … Tuesday … Wednesday and then when [Duke] came storming back and just the way they did it … you know with a 99-yard play. I felt like, ‘Oh man, now we got respond. Do we have enough in us in the tank to respond?’ And then Herb [Waters] came back with a big play. I’m proud of them. As I said in the beginning of the year, it wasn’t going to be perfect. We were picked to finish fifth in the league. We didn’t have anybody on the preseason all-conference team. We didn’t have many starters coming back. We had the toughest schedule, too. We started 10 freshmen this year and played 21, and we just finished tied for the Coastal lead. And [we’ve] got a whole slew of guys coming back. I’m excited. Can’t wait to go back on the road and sign a real good class to compliment last year’s class and move this thing forward.”

“It wasn’t perfect. We’re nowhere near good enough right now - getting off the field and taking the ball away and sacks and that kind of thing. I know that. We all know that. We got to eliminate some of the errors. We get in a game like this and we’re putting out fires constantly. The guys, we just got to learn and grow up and we will. Again we played a lot of guys that just got to keep growing up and keep improving.”

On Duke Johnson:
“He’s a special young man. He works hard and he wants the ball in his hands at the end of the game. With the entire offensive line coming back and the tight ends coming back and the full back coming back and the quarterback’s coming back and the receivers coming back … I think he’s going to benefit from that greatly. The whole supporting cast is coming back and we’re going to add to it and get ourselves better. Duke’s a special young man.”

On what he said to the seniors:
“Just how grateful we are. What a huge sacrifice when you think about it. They didn’t ask for it. They led us all week. This was tough. Don’t diminish for a second how hard it is to get the guys motivated and focused after … entering the Duke week we thought, ‘We win we’re in Charlotte,’ and then that got pulled. We needed that senior leadership and the seniors did. I thought they represented the program and the university with class - incredible amount of integrity. [They] didn’t displace anything on anybody else. [They] didn’t point the finger, years past or anything. It’s a credit to them that we won today because emotionally we didn’t have much in the tank.”

On using trick plays:
“When you have a quarterback and a veteran offensive line you can do that. We became very veteran as the year went on on the offensive line. The same thing at the quarterback position. We’re getting to the point where those two plays … we wanted to go for the jugular on 4th-and-1. Obviously we all thought it was a touchdown and disappointed it wasn’t. You go for it there because you think, even if you don’t get it you’re going to get the ball back at midfield. Or even if they do change the field it’s going to take five minutes. Instead it takes 10 seconds. That’s a backbreaker there. With the wind I thought for sure Jake [Wieclaw] could end the game there. I think we were up by 14, so to make it 17. And we went for the win twice and it didn’t work out. It’s just one of those deals. We’re not good enough to put anybody away yet. Again, I’m just encouraged about moving the program forward.”