BROOKS FOOTBALL BUILDING/DURHAM David Cutcliffe has never before had to get one of his football teams ready to play after a seven-touchdown loss, but that’s the assignment the Duke coach faces this week.
The Blue Devils have good memories of their last meeting with the Black Knights, as they won 35-19 at Michie Stadium with quarterback Sean Renfree coming off the bench in his first college game to lead a fourth-quarter blowout. And Duke may have the best team Army has played so far this season.
Despite the rough weekend, Cutcliffe was upbeat at his weekly press luncheon on Tuesday.
“I feel better standing here today than I might would’ve for a number of reasons,” Cutcliffe said. “We practiced well (Tuesday morning), and coming back to practice well after a painful defeat is a good sign. I believe that if you have character that you grow during times of pain and suffering. I don’t think, I know, that this team and staff has great character and they showed that today. Rome wasn’t built in a day and that doesn’t cure everything we have to fix, but it’s a beginning.
“The second thing is, after getting into that tape again and again I’m more encouraged than discouraged about our athleticism, our future and our immediate future. We have capabilities in many areas, and we’ve got to turn that level up a notch and keep it there.”
WALLACE WADE STADIUM/DURHAM According to the T-shirts some fans are wearing for today’s Duke home football game with, yes, Alabama, it’s the “Wallace Wade Showdown.”
Back in the early part of the last century Wade was one of the greatest coaches in college football, winning three national titles for the Crimson Tide before putting together a nearly equally successful tenure in Durham.
By anyone’s standards it’s a beautiful and warm, sunny day for college football, one of those “chamber of commerce” days for the television cameras from ABC.
Alabama — the alma mater of Duke coach David Cutcliffe — is the top-ranked defending national champion, which is really as familiar to Tide ears as it is for Dukies to hear the same phrase applied to their men’s basketball team.
Alabama fans have made the trip in droves to see their team play a non-conference game on the other school’s campus for the first time since a trip to Oklahoma in 2002. The powers-that-be at Duke, wanting to play the game in Durham as opposed to moving it to Charlotte or even Atlanta, are ready for the influx, adding temporary bleachers including a big set in the South end zone to increase capacity to 37,845 as opposed to the usual 33,941. The crowd is split something like 50-50 between Duke Blue and Alabama Crimson.
Alabama definitely lives up to expectations, scoring and scoring and scoring some more in a 62-13 rout in front of a standing-room-only throng of 39,042.
(Note: This story is the debut of intern Sean Donohue, a senior at Green Hope High who is the newest writing addition to Triangle Offense.)
KENAN STADIUM/CHAPEL HILL—As UNC struggles to remain on its feet from the loss at LSU on Sept. 4 and the absence of 13 starters because of the NCAA investigations, things seem to be starting to pick up for the Heels.
On a 77-degree day, the clear “Carolina blue” sky matches the adorned Kenan stadium as fans pack in to witness what could be quite a close game. Seems today will partly be a battle of star quarterbacks. UNC's T.J. Yates leads the nation in passing yards per game as well as an ACC best of 32 career starts. Georgia Tech's Josh Nesbitt has already rushed for five touchdowns this season and carried his team to a 1-1 standing so far.
Though Georgia Tech lost to Kansas last week, the team still ranks second nationally in rushing offense (331.5 ypg.), so Carolina's defense will have quite the challenge.
It’s a hard-hitting, back-and-forth game, but in the end the Yellow Jackets prevail 30-24 to drop the Tar Heels to 0-2 in their ACC opener.
Individually, the Bulls kept saying that their fatigue wasn't an issue, but the telling thing about that claim is that they kept owning up to the fatigue. One of the players mentioned that the Clippers had to take the same bus rides that the Bulls did, but that wasn't actually true: The Bulls had to take more of them. That is no excuse, of course. The Clippers played better and, sorry to say, looked like they wanted it more. Their team was stocked with high draft picks, many from good college programs, most under 27 years old, who really wanted the trophy. The Bulls, by contrast, looked like they would have been very, very happy to have it, but not more greedy than that—sort of how most Spaniards would have been pretty pleased to learn that their country had discovered a New World, but it was only Columbus and his crew who took the hard voyage all the way there. Sure, he thought he was in Indonesia or something, but he knew he was after some kind of major treasure. So did the Clippers, and they wouldn't be denied it.
After the jump are a few notes—decorous ones, let's say, in the face of the gory, gored-Bull outcome—on the game itself, and slightly longer thoughts on the season that was and the one that is to come.
Not that he was going to last much longer than that, anyway. Cobb had needed 82 pitches to get through those four innings, in each of which the leadoff man reached base. In the first three, there was a man on third base. In all of those, Cobb made the pitch he needed to make and escaped the inning. Cobb worked nine three-ball counts to the 17 men he faced, including seven full counts. The Clippers swung at only 32 of his 82 pitches. His fastball command was erratic, and he had to bail himself out with his curveball a few times. The strike zone of the rather martial home plate umpire Jon Merry was unforgivingly small.
"They were a hard 82," Charlie Montoyo said of Cobb's pitches after the game, which was also hard: close but uncomfortably quiet, with a sort of blank, suppressed energy until the ninth inning. Yet when Cobb left, it was somehow still a scoreless game, despite his labors on the mound. Cobb turned matters over to the Bulls' front-line relievers, who were rested. R. J. Swindle had actually already been warming up in the bullpen during the fourth inning, when Cobb walked the leadoff man and then made a bad pickoff throw to advance him to second base. Cobb got out of that inning, but after making some warmup pitches before the fifth, he called out the trainer to look at his blistered finger, and he was done before throwing a pitch.
After Swindle tossed a 1-2-3, two-strikeout top of the fifth inning, the Bulls scored two runs in the bottom of the inning, one of them unearned thanks to a fielding error by Clippers center fielder Ezequiel Carrera that was a virtual repeat of the ruinous gaffe made by Louisville's Todd Frazier in Game Five of the first round.
But in the top of the sixth, Swindle gave up a long home run to Columbus' potent first baseman, Wes Hodges. And Joe Bateman, after tossing his own 1-2-3, two-strikeout introductory inning, coughed up the tying run in the eighth: In the span of three pitches, Cord Phelps boomed a double to left-center field, and Hodges struck again by drilling a single off the Blue Monster to score Phelps.
At that point, it looked like the Bulls—who somehow seemed to be losing the game virtually from the beginning, even though they scored first—might decide that they could snort and charge no more in 2010. They had fought hard against Louisville just to get to the championship series, and then were trounced in Game One at Columbus and shut out in Game Two—and then took another grueling, overnight bus ride, arriving in Durham at 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
And then the Bulls won the game, 3-2. This exhausted team lives to play another day, whether they want to—despite themselves—or not.
There’s a near-sellout crowd in the house as State hosts two-time defending Big East champion Cincinnati in an ESPN national TV game.
Cincinnati native Tom O’Brien’s Wolfpack is looking to start a season undefeated after three games for the first time since Chuck Amato’s 2002 team started 9-0.
Both teams are going on a five-day turnaround, as the Wolfpack got a nice 28-21 win at Central Florida on Saturday night while the Bearcats (1-1) blasted visiting FCS member Indiana State 40-7. O’Brien said he wasn’t happy about the quick turnaround, but here we go on a warm night anyway.
The Wolfpack makes mistakes but is dominant when it counts, rolling to a 30-19 victory.
But on Saturday the Blue Devils are going to get their toughest test in quite a while.
Defending national champion and No. 1 Alabama, which also happens to be Cutcliffe’s alma mater, will visit Wallace Wade Stadium for a nationally televised matchup that’s a hard sellout. They’ve even brought in several thousand extra bleachers for this one, what with several hundred Crimson Tide fans buying season tickets to see Alabama’s first true road game outside the SEC in seven years.
It’s certainly going to be a big day of football in the Triangle, what with UNC — still reeling from its NCAA problems and likely with a double-digit number of players still sitting out with eligibility questions — hosting a powerful running attack from Georgia Tech.
If you don’t have tickets, it’s a great chance to sit back in the recliner and watch a top-notch doubleheader.
Tom O’Brien wasn’t real happy about having to take his N.C. State team into another football game just five days after his last one, but there’s nothing he could do about it.
“I’m worried about how they’ll be, but we won’t know until (game time),” said the Wolfpack’s fourth-year head coach, who happens to be a native of Cincinnati. “We’ve balanced the act of getting enough work in, but not at the expense of trying to get our legs back so that we can play four quarters of fast football. (Wednesday’s) practice was a glorified walk-through. …
“Our football team is excited about the opportunity to play a very good Cincinnati team. They present a lot of problems both offensively and defensively, but our kids are excited about the opportunity to play on national TV.”
Charlie Coiner has been hired as the defensive line coach at UNC, replacing in that position John Blake who resigned last week as associate head coach.
“We’re excited to add someone with Charlie’s experience and knowledge of the game to our staff,” UNC head coach Butch Davis said. “… It’s unrealistic to expect in a short two-or-three day period of time that we’ll see the effects of what he’ll be able to do, but he’s been an assistant special teams coordinator in the National Football League. He’s a good football coach. He’s smart, he’s bright, he’s got good communication skills, he’s a good teacher (and) he’s got a unique perspective in that he has seen an awful lot of very good football players and how they play.”
Joiner had recently been tight ends coach with the Buffalo Bills, where he also assisted on special teams.
The Catawba alumnus began his career as a graduate assistant at Appalachian State, later coaching at Austin Peay, Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Texas Southern, Louisville, Tennessee-Chattanooga, and LSU before a four-year stint with the Chicago Bears.
The Durham Bulls are in a deep hole in the Governors’ Cup Finals.
The remainder of the series will be played in Durham starting Thursday night.
Phelps homered in the first inning off Aneury Rodriguez, while Goedert and Head homered on back-to-back pitches in the fourth inning with the other run scoring on Jose Constanza’s double steal of home in the fifth.
Zach McAllister was the winning pitcher, going seven innings in his first post-season decision.
Craig Albernaz led the Bulls with a double and a single, while Leslie Anderson and J.J. Furmaniak added two singles each.