Duke’s Cutcliffe ‘disappointed’ player ejected vs. Alabama
One of the lingering effects of Duke’s 42-3 loss to No. 2 Alabama last Saturday in Atlanta is the Blue Devils won’t have one of their senior captains for part of their next game.
Defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord was ejected last Saturday after being flagged for a flagrant personal foul. His early third-quarter entanglement with Alabama right guard Landon Dickerson escalated into punches being thrown and Cerenord stepping on Dickerson.
According to the NCAA rule book, players are prohibited from striking an opponent “with his foot or any part of his leg that is below the knee.”
Cerenord was the only player penalized in the incident, which occurred outside of the full view of television cameras on a play where Alabama running back Najee Harris gained four yards. Both Cerenord and Dickerson wound up with their helmets off and the penalty was called after Duke’s Dylan Singleton tackled Harris on the other side of the field.
“I think (Dickerson) just dumped him and the guy was tired of it,” Alabama right tackle Jedrick Wills said Monday, according to Al.com. “He was just doing his job.”
Because the ejection occurred after halftime, NCAA rules stipulate Cerenord must sit out the first half of Duke’s next game, which is Saturday night against N.C. A&T at Wallace Wade Stadium.
“I’m disappointed, to use an understatement,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “He and I met Sunday and, I think the word is frustration on his part to be honest with you. He was out-competed on the play purely.”
Cerenord is one of Duke’s most experienced players and was named a team captain last month. He’s a redshirt senior who was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA after he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon last October.
Cutcliffe said any other disciplinary action -- beyond the NCAA rule that causes him to miss half of the NC A&T game -- he levies against Cerenord is between coach and player.
The play, which occurred with Alabama up 14-3, was shown and discussed during Duke’s team meeting on Sunday, Cutcliffe said, to give the Blue Devils a chance to learn from something adverse. And Cutcliffe said Dickerson could have been called for a foul as well.
“There was more there,” Cutcliffe said. “We had a chance, I thought, for about a 2-yard loss on that run. We didn’t pull the trigger. We weren’t aggressive. We didn’t protect the edge.”
When Harris escaped and ran outside, the play extended as he gained four yards down the sideline before Singleton stopped him.
Meanwhile, Cutcliffe said, Dickerson and Cerenord were battling back at the line of scrimmage.
“All of this in the process and time,” Cutcliffe said, “this guy (Dickerson) is locked up with Edgar, which would have probably been a foul on them if the whistle had blown and the play should have been stopped because the guy was a little extra-curricular. But in that process, that’s how things happen to teams.”
Cutcliffe’s lesson for the Blue Devils is that if the defense had executed better, the play would have gone for a loss and, perhaps, Dickerson could have been the player who picked up the 15-yard penalty.
“We all own it,” Cutcliffe said. “I own it because it happened. I’m not going to run from my ownership. But we talked about the whole thing as a team. There were so many little things like that that you learn about yourself when you are playing a great team -- not a good one, a great team. But we weren’t doing the little things as well as we should. So I own that completely.”
As Cerenord was being escorted to the sideline by the game officials, Dickerson was seen on camera pointing off the field. Cerenord is seen pointed his finger in Alabama center Chris Owens’ face.
When Cerenord was heading to the locker room, gesturing to Duke’s fans and pounding his chest while Alabama fans booed, Dickerson was seen on camera waving good-bye from his sideline.
Wills also said Monday that he saw Cerenord throw punches at Dickerson earlier.
“A couple of them from what I saw,” Willis said, according to Al.com.
The 6-6, 308-pound Dickerson, a native of Hickory, N.C., joined Alabama as a graduate transfer from Florida State earlier this year.
Alabama coach Nick Saban praised Dickerson’s play during his news conference on Monday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
“Had a lot of effort out there,” Saban said, according to Al.com. “Did a good job for the most part. One of the guys that we feel competed in the game like we like and I’m sure that he would tell you and his coach would tell you that, are there things he could have done better fundamentally? Absolutely. But we certainly liked the competitive character that he played with.”