Duke to use three quarterbacks, Cutcliffe says

ewarnock@newsobserver.comApril 18, 2012 

— David Cutcliffe likes coaching quarterbacks. He likes them so much that the Duke coach plans on using three quarterbacks next fall.

“I’ve always been a one-quarterback, pro-offense-style kind of guy, but I’ve always been willing to change, and the game has changed,” Cutcliffe said Wednesday.

Speaking to about 100 members of the Durham Sports Club in a packed ballroom at Croasdaile Country Club, Cutcliffe had a lot to say about quarterbacks.

“We’re probably the only team in major college football with three quarterbacks coming back that played as much as ours did,” Cutcliffe said.

Starting junior quarterback Sean Renfree saw the most action in 2011 and threw the most (completing 282 of 434 passes for 2,891 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions), while freshman Anthony Boone became the Blue Devils’ third leading rusher (2.9 yards a carry). Sophomore Brandon Connette both caught and threw passes in Duke’s spring game.

“I told our staff that we’re going to find the best 22 players on each side of the ball – regardless of position, that are fierce competitors, that help us win – and we will find a way to use them,” Cutcliffe said. “That includes the quarterbacks. You may see more than one in a game.”

The Mannings

Cutcliffe worked with both Eli and Peyton Manning within the past year. Eli worked out under Cutcliffe’s supervision during last summer’s NFL lockout; he ended up with a Super Bowl Ring. Peyton, working his way back to the NFL from neck surgery, went to Durham last winter to retool his game under Cutcliffe’s supervision; he got a contract with a new team: the Denver Broncos.

“We got a little time with Eli, and then Peyton came in and that turned into a lot of fun,” Cutcliffe said. “It was a great winter.”

The key to working with Peyton? Muffins.

“Thank goodness for Mrs. (Karen) Cutcliffe,” the Duke coach said. “She took care of both of us. Peyton loves her blueberry muffins for breakfast.”

Once Peyton was fed, Cutcliffe said, he worked relentlessly.

“It was great for our team to see Peyton and to see his presence as a competitor, his work ethic, his commitment to excellence, and his commitment to being coached after being a star all those years playing football,” Cutcliffe said. “They saw a guy take coaching like a guy should take coaching.”

Cutcliffe saw the strain that doubt about his team status put on Peyton Manning.

“Once he finally made the decision to become a Bronco, he was back to being Peyton again,” Cutcliffe said. “I’m excited for him. He’s working hard. He’s feeling good.”

Russell Wilson fan

Cutcliffe answered several questions from the audience about NFL quarterbacks.

He said Panthers QB Cam Newton, whom he tried to recruit in high school, clearly had the ability to make an impact in Charlotte.

“The skill, mentality, competitive drive, the willingness to work, I think it really is all there,” he said.

Cutcliffe called himself “a big Russell Wilson fan” and said the former North Carolina State quarterback could fit in the NFL, somewhere.

“He has an incredible arm. He has a great ability to see even though he is not a really tall guy,” Cutcliffe said. “He is a winner. Obviously he’s quite fast. You want him on your team. But whether he will get a shot to start, I don’t know.”

Tim Tebow also will face some doubters as a New York Jet, Cutcliffe said.

“New York is a tough place,” he said. “Does he have the skin thick enough to deal with the New York media? Eli does. Nothing is going to rattle Eli – nothing.”

Warnock: 919-932-8743

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service