Duke coach David Cutcliffe calls it his “Checklist Book” and it’s filled with personal notations.
Cutcliffe said Tuesday he started it when he was an assistant coach and has continued it through the years, so it probably has Tolstoy thickness. As he watches video of games on Sunday, he jots down thoughts about the mistakes that were made.
“Every mistake I’ve made in coaching, which is far too many to brag about,” he said. “When I write it down I write down a solution and it’s called my checklist.
“Most of them are short and I’ve organized them through the years. There will be one through 1,000 in one category – that many at times.”
It’s safe to say Cutcliffe had several checklist notes after the 34-20 loss Saturday to Virginia. In talking about quarterback Daniel Jones’ five interceptions in the game, Cutcliffe did say to point the finger at him, as coach.
Jones is a redshirt freshman and is 19. Cutcliffe and offensive coordinator Zac Roper are the ones who feel the responsibility of having Jones ready to handle all that he will see from a defense.
Cutcliffe said there was a play Saturday when Jones forced a pass to Anthony Nash that was not intercepted but was a bad decision.
“Just because it doesn’t end up as an interception doesn’t mean it’s good decision,” he said. “That’s not what we’re teaching. He should have and could have run for a first down. And he threw back across his body toward in the inner part of the field. That one didn’t bite him but the next time he did it, a little further, it did.”
As Cutcliffe was talking, one could almost see him scribbling the words in his book: “Just because it does’t end up as an interception …”
“Coaching is fun,” Cutcliffe said. “Teaching, mentoring, seeing people improve, on and off the field. I think Daniel Jones if the perfect guy to continue to work with in that regard, and be a great leader here.”
Jones not only felt the sting of five pickoffs but also was hammered in the end zone by Virginia linebacker Jordan Mack. The ball went flying and was recovered by the Cavaliers for a clinching touchdown late in the game. Mack had a clear shot at Jones and took it, hitting him in the chest.
Jones said Tuesday that the five interceptions bothered him a lot more than the one big hit. And watching the game video also was painful.
Duke’s defense got a one-week pass on the video, linebacker Ben Humphreys said. With the Blue Devils hosting Army’s option attack this week, there was no reason to watch the mistakes against Virginia.
“That’s good for the mind but also good because we have to flip the switch with that offense,” Humphreys said. “We’ll look at the Virginia tape after this week.”
Not so with the offense.
“We certainly watched the film,” Jones said. “There’s too many mistakes, too many things we didn’t do well, I didn’t do well, to look past it. You never want to watch a game with five interceptions. That’s not much fun to watch.”
The Blue Devils (2-3, 0-2 ACC) pounded Army 44-3 last season in West Point, N.Y. Duke limited the Black Knights – who were averaging 288 yards rushing a game – to 44 yards rushing the first half and 113 in the game, forcing three bad pitches that were converted into scores.
Cutcliffe said Tuesday that running back Jela Duncan, who missed the Virginia game with a leg injury, has practiced but that his availability for Saturday is not known.
Another unknown for this week’s game is the weather and the possible impact of Hurricane Matthew. Jones said quarterback snaps are done with a wet ball, just in case. Duke is preparing.
Cutcliffe probably has a checklist on “bad weather” in his book, too.