DURHAM — Early in the conference season, after losses to Georgia Tech and Pitt, Duke’s defense looked like it would struggle through a rough ride in the ACC.
Now, thanks to the leadership of several players including junior linebacker Kelby Brown, Duke has given up an average of 17.3 points over the past three conference games and is in contention to play in the ACC Championship game. Brown was named the ACC Co-Linebacker of the Week for after registering 10 tackles, including a sack, against N.C. State.
Brown discussed what it’s like to be part of Duke’s first winning team in 19 years.
Q: How rewarding has this season been for you and the rest of the team?
Well, it’s definitely been a very rewarding season thus far. I think every year we’ve been here working just as hard, but now we’re finally starting to get rewarded for it, particularly on defense. We’ve heard for years that Duke’s had a really bad defense, and it’s been really awesome to win games because of the defense.
Q: This team is setting the bar for future Duke teams. Does it seem like this is a special team or does it still feel like there’s much more to accomplish?
Well, I have to give credit to the guys that were here before us because they were really the ones that laid the foundation for us. I was a part of two 3-9 teams and that wasn’t easy, but it was necessary to get the program where it is now. This team is really special because we have a lot of leaders.
I used to be the most vocal player as a freshman and sophomore, because that’s the way I always have been. But now we have guys that are supportive and are always encouraging and has made us all really close.
I think what we’re doing will hit us later on, but for right now we can’t really take that step back to look at what we’ve done or we might lose sight of what we can still do. That’s the focus right now.
Q: Saturday, what’s it like to play in a game that could determine whether you make it to the ACC championship game?
The cool thing about this game is that from here on out, our destiny is pretty much in our hands with the exception of what Georgia Tech does. We need to win this game if we expect to make it to the ACC Championship, which is our ultimate goal. That makes this game bigger than any game prior to it because we didn’t think we’d be in this position after losing to (Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh). Now we’re hungry to get this win and get to where we want to be.
Smith: 919-829-8941; Twitter: @RCorySmith