Triangle Notebook

Wolfpack's Doeren mum on Tar Heels talk; Duke's Cutcliffe mixes things up

August 9, 2013 

N.C. State, NC State, football, ACC

N.C. State's Dave Doeren encourages his team during the Wolfpack's football practice Wednesday, August 7, 2013.

ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Dave Doeren hasn’t said much about North Carolina since he was hired as N.C. State’s football coach. That’s by design.

There is no countdown to the game or “triple play” zingers from Doeren.

“I don’t talk about it,” he said of the Tar Heels, who will visit Raleigh on Nov. 2.

Doeren said there’s a reason for ignoring UNC and it’s not an issue of “legitimizing” them, as Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora said of the rivalry last year before his first game, an epic 43-35 win at Kenan Stadium.

“The week of the game, they’re our mortal enemy,” Doeren said. “Right now, we need to get better and we need to worry about us and we need to beat Louisiana Tech. That’s where our focus will be.”

That doesn’t mean Doeren isn’t aware of the rivalry.

“Your job should be to always try to be better than them because they are our rival, but we don’t need to talk about that game,” he said.

He said his stance on rivalry games goes back to advice he got from former Northern Illinois coach Joe Novak on how to approach the rivalry with Toledo.

“Don’t make it as big of a deal as it is because the kids already hate them,” Novak told Doeren.

The day-by-day approach worked for Doeren at Northern Illinois; he went 2-0 against the Rockets. Joe Giglio

UNC’s Lipford back after recovering from injury

There were plenty of times last season when Darius Lipford stood on the sideline and wondered how he might have been able to help the defense, which often struggled.

“Sitting on the sideline during the games was really rough for me,” Lipford said. “Because I saw a lot of situations where I knew my athleticism could have helped.”

Instead, Lipford spent time recovering from a knee injury he suffered last summer – which followed the torn ACL he suffered in UNC’s loss against Missouri in the 2011 Independence Bowl.

Lipford, a junior, is back now. After finishing the 2011 season with 42 tackles, he likely would have entered last season as a starter. The odds are against that now.

“Working my way up the depth chart is definitely going to take some time,” Lipford said this week. “But it’s more of getting guys to trust me, knowing that I know the plays – I know that I’m going to do the right thing.”

Lipford, a former strong-side linebacker, is continuing to learn the Bandit – the hybrid defensive end/linebacker position in UNC’s 4-2-5 defense. It’s similar, he said, to a role he played in high school.

The most difficult part of his return? Lipford said it’s the speed of practice.

When last he went through a preseason practice, it was against a far-slower, pro-style offense. Now it’s against an up-tempo spread. Andrew Carter

Duke’s Cutcliffe mixes things up, keeps practice fresh

Over his 31-year coaching career, Duke’s David Cutcliffe has come up with basic principles and strategies to run his program.

He isn’t afraid, though, to try new supplementary methods and approaches.

“You just don’t let things be,” Cutcliffe said. “I’ve never been that way, whether it’s lining up and how you play football, how you train, how you study as coaches.”

Last year, the Blue Devils tried split-squad practices at the beginning of camp, with the players on the two-deep depth chart going in the first session, everyone running together through kicking drills, and then the reserves and freshmen working in the final group.

Cutcliffe decided to follow the same schedule this year, splitting practices starting Tuesday and through Saturday this week.

“We have really gotten a ton of reps and better opportunity to evaluate some of our young people,” Cutcliffe said. “Nobody can run and hide, because they’re getting reps. They’re getting a full practice of reps. They’re getting all that individual work.

“So the coaches, hats off to them, they’ve got a lot of film to watch, and they’re coaching hard through basically two different practices.”

Cutcliffe singled out the young receivers and defensive backs Wednesday, and two names keep popping up when the players are asked about young standouts: wide receiver Johnell Barnes and cornerback Breon Borders. Both true freshmen could earn significant playing time this fall.

“You’re seeing who can threaten to become a 2 or who can threaten to become a 1 if you’re out there with your 2s and your 1s,” Cutcliffe said. “What it has done is create a lot of competition, and that’s what you hope to have.” Laura Keeley

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