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Braxton Deaver
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Braxton Deaver
Mondays: FINISH
Tuesday 12/30/2013  -  Duke Sports Information
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By JOHNNY MOORE
GoDuke The Magazine

ATLANTA – In big letters across the top of the Duke Chick-Fil-A Bowl poster is the word FINISH.

Ever since last year when the Blue Devils did not finish well, losing their last five games after beginning the season 6-2 and becoming bowl eligible in their eighth game, this football team has been focused on the word FINISH.

And so far they have done a very good job of finishing.

After becoming bowl eligible once again following their eighth game of the year, a victory over nationally-ranked Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, the Blue Devils did not stop and rolled off four consecutive wins before falling to the nation’s No. 1 ranked team in the ACC Championship game.

But this team knows they have to finish the job and secure a bowl victory with a win over Texas A&M on Tuesday night in Atlanta.

And it will not be an easy job as the Duke defense will face its second consecutive game with a quarterback who has a Heisman Trophy in his house.

“I'm a very aggressive guy coming off the edge,” explained Duke defensive end Kenny Anunike when asked about how he would handle Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel. “When you are playing a quarterback like Manziel who will take advantage of something like that and has a good game, then you have to limit your rush. Certain things you just can't do. You can't zoom high, and when we say zoom high, it's taking off behind the offensive tackle and trying to get the quarterback from behind, because Johnny Manziel steps up in the pocket and his line will continue to block and he will take off right up the middle, and that will hurt us and that's how they hurt teams in the past.

“So it's all just about collapsing that pocket,” continued Anunike, “make sure our guys stay locked in in coverage, don't watch the show, because that's how the receivers keep the play alive, and they can hurt you.”

Last year it was Cincinnati. This year the bowl competition has stepped up as the Blue Devils face a nationally-ranked SEC team.

"This is our second year,” explained Juwan Thompson following practice at the Georgia Dome. “As a player, you understand what you're here for. You try to have some fun, but when it's time to practice, you get into practice mode. When that's over, then we can have our fun. Then we can focus tomorrow on the concept of ‘this is another opportunity to have more fun. This is a reward for us.’ So this time is practice time, then we'll have our down time and meeting time where we'll focus in and focus on the goal ahead."

“It's the 'W' that we left on the field last year, and we know that we're going to work hard for this one,” said junior tight end Braxton Deaver. “We want it just as bad as we did last year. I think that cohesive bond to really want to win this and come here and focus, and not mess around, not do anything we're not supposed to be doing, but just realize what's on the table is what we've been doing."

“This has been a historic season for the Duke Blue Devils and this team has been relentless all year long,” said senior captain Dave Harding. “We have high expectations for ourselves, and there have been a lot of naysayers along the way. It’s been our job to prove them wrong and we’ve had a great time doing it. Eleven wins is huge. Each game, we’ve been writing history. Ten wins had never been done before, but we want to set the bar high and our senior class especially wants to set the bar high for future Duke teams.”

 There is also a hidden meaning to bowl games that only a coach understands.

“We now have a class that came in a year ago that has gone to bowl games both of their years in our program,” explained Cutcliffe. “That needs to become a standard. Then once it becomes your standard, it becomes a habit, and that's all certainly capable of occurring. We've built the program around that, around consistent success. So these are certainly huge steps in that regard.

“As you move forward, what bowl games do over a four or five year in a row period, you start looking at the practice time. If you take a freshman that entered Duke when we weren't playing in a bowl, and you take a freshman that entered into a school that's played in a bowl game every year, if you red-shirted after four years, how much more practice time has he had than a player that never got this experience? Also, there is no doubt, I've been around this a long time, when you taste bowl games, when you taste what a championship game feels like, you don't forget it. It's a whole lot easier to get back the second time than it is the first time to a championship game, I can promise you that. I hope we have created that. I don't hope – I know we have created that kind of hunger in our program.”

And along with the hunger comes the desire of taking the frustration of last year’s loss to Cincinnati and creating a different outcome to this bowl game.

“We all know the taste that was left in our mouth a year ago,” Cutcliffe pointed out. “I can promise you these guys do. I haven't lost it yet. So it's extremely important that we prepare well and play well, and then the chips are going to fall where they are, but we're not going to leave anything out there if we can certainly help it.”

The players understand, and of course the coaches understand the importance of the game. Now it’s just time to take all your preparation and work and go play the game.

In other words.....FINISH.

#GoDuke

By Johnny Moore

 

GoDuke The Magazine

 

FINISH

 

ATLANTA – In big letters across the top of the Duke Chick-Fil-A Bowl poster is the word FINISH.

 

Ever since last year when the Blue Devils did not finish well, losing their last five games after beginning the season 6-2 and becoming bowl eligible in their eighth game, this football team has been focused on the word FINISH.

 

And so far they have done a very good job of finishing.

 

After becoming bowl eligible once again following their eighth game of the year, a victory over nationally-ranked Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, the Blue Devils did not stop and rolled off four consecutive wins before falling to the nation’s No. 1 ranked team in the ACC Championship game.

 

But this team knows they have to finish the job and secure a bowl victory with a win over Texas A&M on Tuesday night in Atlanta.

 

And it will not be an easy job as the Duke defense will face its second consecutive game with a quarterback who has a Heisman Trophy in his house.

 

“I'm a very aggressive guy coming off the edge,” explained Duke defensive end Kenny Anunike when asked about how he would handle Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel. “When you are playing a quarterback like Manziel who will take advantage of something like that and has a good game, then you have to limit your rush. Certain things you just can't do. You can't zoom high, and when we say zoom high, it's taking off behind the offensive tackle and trying to get the quarterback from behind, because Johnny Manziel steps up in the pocket and his line will continue to block and he will take off right up the middle, and that will hurt us and that's how they hurt teams in the past.

 

“So it's all just about collapsing that pocket,” continued Anunike, “make sure our guys stay locked in in coverage, don't watch the show, because that's how the receivers keep the play alive, and they can hurt you.”

 

Last year it was Cincinnati. This year the bowl competition has stepped up as the Blue Devils face a nationally-ranked SEC team.

 

"This is our second year,” explained Juwan Thompson following practice at the Georgia Dome. “As a player, you understand what you're here for. You try to have some fun, but when it's time to practice, you get into practice mode. When that's over, then we can have our fun. Then we can focus tomorrow on the concept of ‘this is another opportunity to have more fun. This is a reward for us.’ So this time is practice time, then we'll have our down time and meeting time where we'll focus in and focus on the goal ahead."

 

“It's the 'W' that we left on the field last year, and we know that we're going to work hard for this one,” said junior tight end Braxton Deaver. “We want it just as bad as we did last year. I think that cohesive bond to really want to win this and come here and focus, and not mess around, not do anything we're not supposed to be doing, but just realize what's on the table is what we've been doing."

 

“This has been a historic season for the Duke Blue Devils and this team has been relentless all year long,” said senior captain Dave Harding. “We have high expectations for ourselves, and there have been a lot of naysayers along the way. It’s been our job to prove them wrong and we’ve had a great time doing it. Eleven wins is huge. Each game, we’ve been writing history. Ten wins had never been done before, but we want to set the bar high and our senior class especially wants to set the bar high for future Duke teams.”

 

 There is also a hidden meaning to bowl games that only a coach understands.

 

“We now have a class that came in a year ago that has gone to bowl games both of their years in our program,” explained Cutcliffe. “That needs to become a standard. Then once it becomes your standard, it becomes a habit, and that's all certainly capable of occurring. We've built the program around that, around consistent success. So these are certainly huge steps in that regard.

 

“As you move forward, what bowl games do over a four or five year in a row period, you start looking at the practice time. If you take a freshman that entered Duke when we weren't playing in a bowl, and you take a freshman that entered into a school that's played in a bowl game every year, if you red-shirted after four years, how much more practice time has he had than a player that never got this experience? Also, there is no doubt, I've been around this a long time, when you taste bowl games, when you taste what a championship game feels like, you don't forget it. It's a whole lot easier to get back the second time than it is the first time to a championship game, I can promise you that. I hope we have created that. I don't hope – I know we have created that kind of hunger in our program.”

 

And along with the hunger comes the desire of taking the frustration of last year’s loss to Cincinnati and creating a different outcome to this bowl game.

 

“We all know the taste that was left in our mouth a year ago,” Cutcliffe pointed out. “I can promise you these guys do. I haven't lost it yet. So it's extremely important that we prepare well and play well, and then the chips are going to fall where they are, but we're not going to leave anything out there if we can certainly help it.”

 

The players understand, and of course the coaches understand the importance of the game. Now it’s just time to take all your preparation and work and go play the game.

 

In other words.....FINISH.

 

 

 

 


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