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Quotes: Duke 46, FIU 26
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 09/02/2012
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Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe
On opening the season with a victory:
“It’s huge [to come out with a victory]. We played a lot of young people. I think we probably did play nine true freshmen. I haven’t been given that number, but it’s great to see guys get their feet wet. Redshirt freshmen played and we got fifth-year seniors playing well. It was a little awkward start on offense and then we got it revved. Defensively, I think we learned a lot about ourselves tonight. I think it’s going to help us grow. We need some people back and some are going to get back and some are not. Overall, I’d grade it a really fine victory. We need to prove the maxim that you improve more from game one to game two because we can solidify some things that we can do better. I’m not displeased with our young specialist, but I didn’t love the fact that we weren’t perfect in the place-kicking game and could have been, but again I think I learned something there. I think those guys need a little more grass work. We’re on turf now all the time in practice so it’s little things like that. [I’m] very pleased with our squad.”

On the balanced team effort in the win:
“Conner [Vernon], if you get the ball around him, is going to make good things happen. He’s not the leading receiver already at this point in this school’s history by accident. He’s going to end up the leading receiver in the history of this league and that’s not an accident. If I’m Sean Renfree, I’m finding a way to get the ball around [Conner Vernon] and when they get to doubling him, I’m going to get it to [Jamison Crowder] and then we’re going to get [Isaac Blakeney] and [David Reeves] involved and [Brandon Connette] and get those backs more involved. I liked our backs tonight and I loved our offensive line. That is a really good defensive front for FIU we saw tonight. All of them back from a year ago and preseason conference player of the year for the Sun Belt in [Tourek Williams]. And think about it ‘Did you ever see him show up?’ He didn’t show up. I just told John Latina I saw smiles in all five of those guys’ faces. I just was really pleased. We had three false starts and we’ve been messing around a little bit with our cadence. Sean [Renfree’s] a veteran and he bit us a little bit. Overall the discipline on offense was good, one turnover. We took the ball away, which was good. The kicking game was solid. I thought our coverage units and return units were solid. But we’re better than what we showed there, so a lot of improvement to be made.”

Ross Cockerel’s TD return at the end of the first half:
“Incredible play. I wasn’t real pleased at the time. We pinned them back on kickoff coverage, had a big penalty and let them out of the hole defensively and they go down there. That was sweet to see that. When I saw Ross with the ball, I knew he was going to score. If you’ve ever seen Ross play high school ball with the ball in his hand, he’s really good. He really is. I think about that a lot; I just don’t want to wear him out. But he’s good with the football in his hands and he proved it tonight. He’s a good runner.”

On injuries and players going out of the game:
“We’ve got all of these people out and then all of a sudden [Lee] Butler’s out with cramps, Sarmiento’s out, Canty’s out. We went down in numbers there at the end and that’s what allowed them to have a little success there at the end. Again, they can gauge themselves. Hydrate a little more and better think about what we’re doing in that regard.”

On the speed of play:
“Nobody is going to play much faster than FIU played on offense. I told you that before the ball game. I told you it was going to be a fast game. We can play even faster than we did on offense and I’d like to see that, but the humidity was really tough tonight, really tough.”

On Stanford:
“A big challenge. We all know that. A top-25 team. We’ve just played a good team, so that helps us. Obviously Stanford played a good team. I talked to Mike MacIntyre yesterday and Mike told me that they had a great camp. He said, ‘Coach, we’ve got a pretty good football team. We’ll play them well.’ To say the least, they almost beat them. But it’s a challenge to regroup. I don’t think we have any major injuries out of this. Hopefully it’s just bumps and bruises and we get everybody back for practice on Tuesday. We’ll work out light tomorrow night and then we got to go at it and get better. We’ve got a lot to learn about Stanford starting Tuesday.”

Duke QB Sean Renfree
On opening the season with a victory:
“Any time we can open up the season with a big victory like that, it’s always a lot of fun. Our preparation we put into it, it all paid off in the end.”

On completing deep passes down the field:
“Conner [Vernon] and Jamison [Crowder] both showed up today and made big plays down the field. Our offensive line did a heck of a job up front, giving me time and letting us throw downfield.”

On communication with his wide receivers:
“I think the experience we have at receiver – also our line – is huge. This is my third year now throwing to these guys and I can trust guys. I know where they’ll be and what their range is – all that really helps.”

On what the win over FIU means heading into week two:
“I think this one’s huge. Obviously, we’re going to move on. We’ve got a big opponent next week. Right now we’re going to celebrate and get ready to work tomorrow.”

Duke WR Conner Vernon
On his touchdown reception from quarterback Sean Renfree:
“That was actually one of those things where it was more of a bid on his part and I ran the wrong route, in a sense, ironically. He was able to just read what I was doing. We’ve had such a connection these past three years that he knows what I’m thinking, I know what he’s thinking. I kind of opened up and he was able to throw me outside and I was able to shake off that one tackle and it was a foot race to the end zone. It wasn’t even planned. I’ll probably get in trouble in the meeting room tomorrow when we watch it on film because I didn’t really run my right route on that one, but he was able to make a play.”

On a big reception down the sideline in the first half:
“We knew what kind of defense they were in and we knew that Coach [Kurt] Roper felt really comfortable with that play all week. We were working it all week and it was just a perfect moment. Sean [Renfree] put a perfect ball out there to let me just run out there, and I started running as fast as I could. I had a lot of room to run and I had another good block by Jamison [Crowder] down the field just getting me those few yards. It’s something we practiced a lot this camp was just blocking downfield and really giving that extra effort because you don’t know when that one play is going to bust it for a touchdown.”

On establishing a Duke record for career pass receptions:
“There’s been a lot of good receivers at this university and in this conference, and just being able to have my name at the top of this great institution of prestigious football and also just a great institution overall, it’s just a humbling thing. It’s funny, I’m sure Donovan [Varner] has probably called me by now for taking his record. But it was good. I owe a lot to the offense and Coach Cut[cliffe]. Sean [Renfree] got me the ball and I just needed to do what I was out there to do.”

Duke Safety Brandon Braxton
On his contributions after making his first start on defense:
“Any way I can help the team and I just came out, and we won, which felt good.”

On facing FIU’s high-powered offense:
“Our defense was really energized the whole night, and I think that was key for us. They do have a really good offense and they’re really fast, so I think all of us went to the ball – it really helped.”

On what the defense did to limit FIU offensively:
“We felt really conditioned tonight – I’ll say that. They were moving and grooving, but we all felt really ready to go. And now that we’re doing the signaling from the sideline, it’s getting our plays in faster, which is helping us because we can read their offense and then react.”

On Duke coming up with two turnovers:
“We were really focusing on stripping the ball and making big plays. We just came out and did it tonight.”

On what has been most exciting about the transition from offense to defense:
“I think that defense fits more of my personality. I think I’m a little wild and crazy and I like reacting more than just doing systematic things, so it’s just really been a beneficial switch for me. I think I can keep on improving in my game as a d[efensive] back.”

On opening the season with a win:
“It’s big. This game is definitely going to set the tempo for the entire season. I think we came out and played really well. FIU is a great team, but we just played well tonight and I’m pretty excited.”

FIU Head Coach Mario Cristobal
On Duke’s blocked field goal at the end of the first half:
“The snap was high and the holder tried to get it down, but by the time he got it down there was some leakage. So when the block was returned, that’s a big time swing right there. We are trying to cut that thing down, get those 17 points on the board. Instead it goes seven the other way, so that’s a 10-point swing right there. Those things are tough. We get down there early, came up short on a fourth down conversion; that changes the momentum a little bit. Their first score comes off a turnover. Turnovers were very, very costly for us. The fourth down conversion that they made and that we didn’t make, obviously that is something that swings the game a little bit.”

On Duke’s passing game:
“A couple wrinkles, sometimes they out ran us. We just got beat deep. Other times they made a good play, made a good throw. You got to give them credit. We were close a couple times to hitting them, and they got the ball off and made some things happen. Offensively, we got in the red zone in the first half three times, and came up with only one score as well. We had the big play to [Kedrick Rhodes] obviously and that was positive.”

On Kedrick Rhodes:
“Ked has always run hard. I think him and Darian Mallery ran hard. They both did a good job. They tallied up a bunch of yards, but not enough points. It is all fine and dandy, but you still got to get the ball in the end zone. The positive thing is that guys continued to play hard until the end of the game. They kept playing and playing. We started unraveling in terms of how the scoreboard was getting tilted, and these guys continued to play football, continued to play hard. We found some positive things at the end of the game, but overall obviously a disappointing performance by us.”

On the loss:
“We need to execute plays better, and we always talk about it in there. When we win games, we win them as a team and we lose them as a team as well. We aren’t going to point fingers at a specific player or a specific coach or a specific call or a specific turnover. We got to secure the ball better. You [can’t] put the ball on the ground against a team like that with a high powered offense. It was one of our goals coming into the game. You have to secure the ball, protect the football. We didn’t do that, gave them points right away. We talked about the importance of special teams, and coming to play all of these games early in the college football season. We have to execute well. A simple thing like a snap throws us off kilter, thing gets blocked and suddenly its seven points the other way. In a game that is very manageable at the time, when we are trying to find our rhythm offensively, those things certainly affected us a bunch. And then when [Duke] came out in the second half and scored right away, that gave them a little more space, a little more room against us, but it’s about the tale of the game right there.”