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Quotes: Duke 38, Troy 31
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 09/28/2013
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Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe
On winning a tough battle:
“Troy University, which was formerly Troy State, has been an outstanding football program for 50 years – a long time. This team is going to always be dangerous. They’re going to have athletes. Their skill is pretty equal to our skill and speed out there. I thought we were a little more physical than they were but in the end we were a little more consistent than they were and we won the dogfight. We won the shootout because our defense was opportunistic in some down-and-distance circumstances and got it done. And forced eight punts – that’s a big deal in a game like this. And then our offense, when we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot, we were pretty good. We just can’t afford lost yards here or lost yards there to keep chain normal. We would have been better even.”

On the play of the defensive ends in the second half:
“We talked a lot going into the game about every man on both lines of scrimmage winning your personal battle. When you’re out there at end and you’re rushing a passer, it’s usually you and an offensive tackle and vice versa when our offensive line is out there. We felt like those matchups were in our favor. We didn’t get as much out of that in the first half and those guys challenged themselves and it was much better. We had some big plays on defense – didn’t give up near as many explosive plays. We gave up a few but you’re going to do that in this day and time. And in the first half, I was shocked our guys, we really stopped them and contained them running the ball pretty well. The thing is, they just had too many easy completions as the day wore down. But I’m real proud of our guys playing 60 minutes. We got better today. We got better in every area today and that’s going to prove to be helpful to us as we continue to put this season together.”

On the performance of quarterback Brandon Connette:
“We put together some explosive plays. When you have 20 completions and 324 passing yards, that’s pretty effective with your completions. He missed a couple just by a hair to Jamison [Crowder], and he’s got those capabilities. He can run the football and he can manage the game, and he’s going to continue to get better. We’re nursing two sore quarterbacks and riding that horse No. 18 pretty hard. There’s a lot of pressure on that young man … He’s a gutsy performer. He’s not always going to be perfect, but he is a very gutsy performer.”

On the continuing growth of the program:
“I told them, ‘Guys, I want you to understand that there haven’t been a lot of Homecomings won around here in recent years. It’s a big deal in itself. We’re playing with essentially our third quarterback and still playing and gained 514 yards. I don’t know when we’ve been able to do that. There’s a lot of great things going on with this football program and this particular team. This team is 3-2 the hard way. Nothing’s going to ever be easy but we’re going to be exciting.”

Duke Quarterback Brandon Connette
On how he thought Duke’s offense performed in the win:
“We came out on offense the first two series and went 3-and-out trying to find a rhythm, but once we found our rhythm we just got on a roll. It was four straight drives with touchdowns, and you can’t really ask for much more than that on offense. Troy came out and put more people in the box and did a good job against the run, so a lot of credit to Troy for making those adjustments.”

On the importance of taking shots deep downfield:
“You have to take shots. If you don’t take shots during the game, whether they’re complete or incomplete, the defense is never going to be afraid of it. They’re just going to sit on the sticks and sit on the routes. So you have to take shots; you have to hope that more of them go for you than against you, and if they go against you hopefully they’re just incompletions. I thought Troy’s corner made one hell of a play on that interception. It was just one of the deep shots we were trying to take. But overall I think we won the deep battle today. We had the big touchdown to Jamison (Crowder), and we had a couple deep passes to Max McCaffrey. Johnell Barnes stepped up really big on a 3rd-and-20 on a simple go route that he made one heck of a catch on. You have to stretch the defense a little to open the underneath routes, and I thought we did a good job today.”

On where his tough style of play comes from:
“A lot of that comes from just how my parents raised me. Growing up, I had five younger brothers and an older sister, so it was just a war every day in my house. It was a real physical household, roughhousing and stuff. If you got hurt roughhousing, my mom and dad would just say, ‘It’s your fault, you were playing the game.’ So I think that’s just my mentality. My parents did a great job with all my brothers and sisters as well. That’s what I credit the toughness to.”

Duke Linebacker David Helton
On the difference between Duke’s defensive play in the second half:
“We talked about things, but we didn’t change our schemes much or anything. Really, we just made a decision, especially in the fourth quarter, that we needed to stop them. That was it. We made a decision that we needed to get a rush on the quarterback, and both those decisions, you could see them in the second half. It was absolutely fantastic that our D-line just played their butts off in the second half. I’m really proud of our defense.”

On how his mentality changes on third down:
“It definitely changes. On 3rd-and-27, you’re thinking, ‘I’m going to sit back and we’re gonna let it come in front of us. Whatever it is, it’s gonna come in front of us, and we’re gonna tackle the ball.’ It’s one of those things where you can feel third down. The crowd starts roaring, and we definitely made a decision in the second half that we were gonna stop them.”

Troy Head Coach Larry Blakeney
On defensive adjustments in the second half:
“You get those looks and you settle in to what the other team is doing. Sometimes a team becomes your best look team, where they teach you what they’re doing and you adapt to it and learn where you need to be and how to make a stop … We kind of settled in with them on defense and finally got some things done. We made a few stops.”

On Duke’s offense:
“They were difficult guys to tackle. [Brandon Connette] was a make-them-miss kind of guy and they have a couple of backs that creased us there pretty good, early. Receivers caught the ball and made runs. It was like a circus for a while. They’re a well-oiled machine, well-coached with a lot of character … I figured the game would probably be a high-scoring game, but I didn’t know exactly how it would go. I knew Coach Cutcliffe and his team could move the football and score a lot of points. They made some plays on us, especially the first three quarters.”

On Duke’s return game:
“They stretch it in the kicking game. On kickoffs, in a game like this, you certainly need to cover them, because they have talented guys back to receive. We did a good job kicking the ball, I thought.”

On safety Jeremy Spikner’s return:
“I’d say [his return] helped a lot. For a while it didn’t look like it, but he is a guy that triggers coverages. He has to get lined up right with leverage to the speed receiver’s side and play run off of that. He has been a really good football player for us and I hope it continues. It was good to get him back.”

On a hold call that negated a touchdown:
“[The score] would have certainly put us up. I didn’t see [the hold]. I asked [the referee] what he saw, and he said our guy wrapped his arms around [the Duke player’s] legs and held him. That’s his job. Those guys work hard to be able to do their jobs. I don’t always like how they call things, but it was a good play by Chandler and we got some blocks … It’s frustrating. It’s real frustrating to be that close. That wouldn’t have ended the game, but it would have put us up. That play would have put us up, but [Duke] would have still had six or seven minutes left.”

On the team’s recent results:
“Well, I can make a lot of excuses. We eeked out a win against UAB in overtime, and we beat Savannah State, who we were supposed to beat, and then we had three straight road trips, with the hardest place in America to get to with the first one. Then a road trip to Mississippi State, and then a road trip here. That’s tough on the body. I don’t care how young you are. I’m sure it takes its toll. Everybody has to do it sometimes, it’s just the way the schedule falls.”