Welcome back to Three and Out, readers. I’m sure you saw the story from Duke’s 52-13 win over Elon Saturday, as well as a look at what worked, what needs work and what’s next. Speaking of next, Duke will head to Troy on Friday, ahead of the 7 p.m. kickoff time Saturday. And in a testament to head coach David Cutcliffe’s thoroughness (a trait of most successful college coaches), the Blue Devils’ schedule for Saturday is completely mapped out, the result of years and years of trial and error. A wake up time that’s not too early, but not too late, time for a few meals, time to relax, etc.
Speaking of thoroughness…
***Any outdoor exercise enthusiast can tell you that temperature definitely impacts performance. So, if its 92 degrees with a 50 percent chance of rain and humidity of around 70 percent, that’s a significant. That also happens to be the forecast for Saturday in Troy, Ala.
The Blue Devils go through a seminar on hydration the first day they report to preseason camp. That way, the hope is that the team’s hydration habits are already set on a solid foundation and there doesn’t need to be any last-second freak out before a game like this.
“(Strength coach Noel) Durfey always stresses to get your gallon of water a day, so I try to always drink a gallon a day,” quarterback Thomas Sirk said. “My biggest thing is drinking a glass of water right when you wake up in the morning. That’s something I’ve always done, right when I wake up, first thing I do is drink a glass of water.”
***A reporter commented to Cutcliffe that Sirk was running like a fullback Saturday, and he was asked if that makes him cringe.
“I cringe a lot,” Cutcliffe said. “That’s what I was getting ready to say, I would much prefer him to run like a quarterback than run like a fullback. That doesn’t mean he has to be soft. I’m not talking about getting down on the ground. He’s just got to be smart, he has got to be behind his pads. He’s a big, tall guy. I don’t want to take his competitive edge away from him.
“But I want him to remember that you can be fast and tough, so play fast. Use his speed a little bit more than using his power. “
***One position where toughness and physicality is a must is at tight end. David Reeves—who told the media he prefers to go by D.J., so that’s what it will be from now on—is the most physical of the bunch, Cutcliffe said, so it’s not a huge surprise that he is the starter. Even though Braxton Deaver (who is out this year with a torn ACL) was Duke’s second-leading receiver last year, the emphasis for the position is still on blocking.
“That position, if you look at what we do with them, they essentially play fullback, they play tight end, which puts you almost playing like a tackle, they play wide receiver, they go in motion, they block on the perimeter, they block inside,” Cutcliffe said. “If you’re going to be a successful tight end, at any level, you’re going to play more like a tackle than you do a receiver. Six catches a game in 12 games, 72 catches. How many tight ends had 72 catches in collegiate football? Maybe one or two or three. If you play 50 snaps, the rest of them are without the football. I would rather them play like a tackle.”
In case you were curious, just one tight end caught more than 72 passes last year—Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro, who caught 106. UNC’s Eric Ebron was second nationally with 62 catches.
***The most important trait for a young cornerback to have, according to Cutcliffe?
“If you’re a young corner, you better have good enough feet to get yourself out of trouble,” he said, “Because you are going to get yourself in trouble.”
True freshmen Alonzo Saxton II and Zach Muñiz both fit that bill. They are the second pair of true freshmen corners to play at Duke in as many years ( Breon Borders and Bryon Fields did last year).