DURHAM — Duke head coach David Cutcliffe summed up his team’s attitude after last Friday’s 31-6 home loss to Miami.
“No fun,” Cutcliffe said after the game. “Nothing about this was fun.”
The team saw its 4-0 start to the season go up in smoke, while the offense faced difficult questions after scoring the fewest points at home of the David Cutcliffe era.
The offense has struggled at other times this season, including the previous week against North Carolina, but the Daniel Jones-led unit hit a new low in the Miami game.
“Last week, it was a little bit more schematic,” Cutcliffe said simply. “This week it was a little bit more getting whipped.”
Duke at Virginia
Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va. | Saturday, Oct. 7, 12:20 p.m. | ACC Network
Duke now needs to lick its wounds and try to make adjustments while traveling to Charlottesville, to face a vastly improved Virginia team. The Cavaliers have already exceeded last season’s win total, and that 2-10 team managed to beat Duke in Durham.
One area that Cutcliffe wasn’t concerned was the Blue Devils’ attitude heading on the road. He doesn’t expect anyone to be hanging their heads after the Miami loss.
“I believe this team will fight anybody and everybody it plays,” Cutcliffe said. “I like their spirit, and I like their attitude. … This team has got some character, some guts and some toughness. They’re not backing down from work, and they’re not backing down from having a special season.”
Proving his point was linebacker Joe Giles-Harris. The sophomore led the team in tackles last year and is the leading tackler again so far this season, with 43. He’s also added 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, an interception and a pass breakup, while setting the tone for the hard-hitting defense.
“I thought, for the biggest part of the (Miami) game, we were the most physical team on the field,” Cutcliffe said.
After the loss, Giles-Harris was asked about the benefit of playing Friday night, and getting an extra day’s rest before heading to Virginia.
He was having none of the “look at the bright side” question, however.
“At the end of the day, you have to be ready to play,” Giles-Harris said. “If we have to play tomorrow, we have to play tomorrow. You have to get in the right mental state of mind, get your body right and go. This is business. That’s all it is.”
Cutcliffe will spend part of the week making sure the team puts the loss into perspective.
“As I look at our team, we’re 4-1,” he said. “We know there are a lot of things we have to do better, and we can. We said that before the game. Those opportunities still exist.”
He won’t find an unreceptive audience in Giles-Harris.
“My dad always told me, ‘Yesterday is yesterday. What are you going to do tomorrow?’ What happens down the road is what we can control,” Giles-Harris said.
“What we can do is put five behind us, knowing we’ve won four of them,” Cutcliffe continued. “We’re 4-1. It beats the heck out of being something else.”