Duke’s Cutcliffe looking for consistency from Chase Brice, defense

dukeDuke looked good early in its opener at Notre Dame, moving the ball well behind new starting quarterback Chase Brice, keeping the Irish offense at bay until a second quarter fake punt turned things around.

Moral victories are also real-world defeats, but the 27-13 loss was something to build on, it seemed.

Last week’s 26-6 laid egg of a loss to Boston College was a step back.

Five turnovers, two of them INTs thrown by Brice, three of them lost fumbles, kept the Blue Devils from getting anything going offensively, and the defense made first-time BC starting QB Phil Jurkovec look like the second coming of Matt Ryan (17-of-23, 300 yards, 2 TDs).

Back to the old drawing board for Duke coach David Cutcliffe, whose team is an ugly 0-2 heading into its matchup with Virginia on Saturday in Charlottesville.

“We have standards that have to be met. It’s been a unique year, to say the least, with dealing with all of the time away that the squad spent getting back in rhythm. Didn’t play nearly as well the second week as the first week, which puts certainly the pressure right here. I’m 100 percent responsible for that, because our standards have to be set by the head football coach,” Cutcliffe said.

A key focal point for Cutcliffe would seem to be Brice, a former four-star prep recruit who was stuck on the depth chart behind Trevor Lawrence at Clemson before making the move as a grad transfer to Durham in the spring.

Brice has been so-so to this point, completing a pedestrian 54.4 percent of his passes and leading just four scoring drives over two games.

“What I’m looking for from Chase, from my perspective, is consistency,” Cutcliffe said. “The first job a quarterback has is to make the other 10 people around him better, right? Along with this ability, he has to make plays. We’re looking for consistency. But he certainly has had some really positive plays that have impacted our team to this point in a positive way.”

The week of practice leading into what has to be considered a must-win game will be telling.

“Do we need consistency? Absolutely. Do we need a little bit more hunger? Absolutely,” Cutcliffe said. “I’m looking forward to this week of practice. The opportunities as they present themselves continuing to move forward and we will attack the problems. We’ve never run away from any issues since we’ve been here, and we’re certainly not running away from this one.”

Story by Chris Graham

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