Cutcliffe, Petri reunite on Duke staff

Defensive line coach joins Devils

Staff WriterJanuary 21, 2011 

Duke coach David Cutcliffe announced the addition of defensive line coach Rick Petri to the Blue Devils' football staff on Thursday.

Petri, who worked with Cutcliffe at Mississippi for six seasons, reunites with his old boss as an assistant coach. He will fill the position made available by the departure of Marion Hobby, the co-defensive coordinator, for Clemson.

Petri's hiring addresses a defensive area Cutcliffe has said for the past two seasons he intends to improve.

The Devils, who finished 3-9 overall and 1-7 in the ACC, lacked presence up front this past season as they relied on inexperienced players. The Blue Devils ranked 11th in scoring defense (35.4 points per game), 12th in rushing defense (208.2 yards allowed per game) and 12th in sacks by (12) and 10th in opponent's third-down conversion percentage (41.7) in the ACC.

"Rick is widely known in the coaching profession as one of the top teachers of defensive line play, and his track record of preparing young men for the National Football League speaks for itself," Cutcliffe said. "Also, his ideas and methods of helping players mature into young adults fits very well with our philosophies."

Petri coached at Ole Miss from 1998 to 2004, working with defensive tackles who included first-team All-SEC players Kendrick Clancy and Jesse Mitchell. This past season, Petri worked for Miami coach Randy Shannon, helping the Hurricanes become the ACC's top pass defense, third-best total defensive squad and fifth-best scoring defense.

Before working at Miami, Petri coached at Kentucky from 2005 to 2008. He has spent 34 years as a college coach.

In his six seasons at Ole Miss, Petri said, Cutcliffe's high standards and organization made it easy to show up every day. Petri said Cutcliffe expects loyalty from his assistants, as well as the ability to develop relationships with players.

"Coaching is teaching, teaching is relationships," Petri said. "Where did you learn the most in school? The teachers you had a relationship with ... you were comfortable with and you felt like you could have an interaction. Give and take. That's very much what he believes in.

"I also think [Cutcliffe] believes in, like I do, that your job is not only to win games and coach people but also help them become better young men."

A native of St. Louis, Mo., Petri will coach in the state for the first time, though he's no stranger to the South.

"I've got another southern state covered," he said. "My wife and I joke about that all the time. I've been in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky. I haven't worked in Georgia, haven't worked in Alabama. ... Now I have North Carolina. I'm pretty well-covered in the southeastern part of the United States."

robinson@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4781

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