“It doesn’t take long getting into the film study to recognize the dramatic improvement that Duke has made in its football team this season. Certainly record-wise – that obviously jumps out at you. But watching the film, they are playing extremely well offensively.
“Thaddeus Lewis is a veteran senior quarterback that has got an awful lot of starting experience. He’s certainly having just an outstanding season. He’s very gifted. He’s got a great arm and he’s athletic enough to extend plays. You can see his poise and his confidence is so much better in his decision-making two seasons into a new coaching staff and a new offensive philosophy and how much better he is certainly playing. He’s not doing it by himself. He’s got a very talented group of receivers that run really good routes and they catch the ball well. They create big plays and the flip the field on you with their big-play capability. From that standpoint, that’s going to be a challenge in and of itself.
“Defensively, we felt like a year ago that their defense was one of the tougher defenses that we had played against and they basically got the entire defensive line back with a good group of linebackers. They’re very sound and they execute very well. They don’t give up big plays. They tackle well. They get a lot of pressure. I’m sure that because of the type of offense that they run, they’re very accomplished pass rushers and that stands to reason that sometimes when a team is throwing the ball so well, they get an awful lot of opportunities to work on pass rush in spring and in training camp and throughout the course of the season. This is a very good Duke football team.”
On moving Kevin Reddick to the starting middle linebacker spot:
“I wish I could sit here and tell you that a lot of that was by design, but the reality of it is that we’ve tried to play six linebackers in just about every game all season long. Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant both kind of cut their teeth as outside linebackers early in their careers. They also play on our special teams, and when they need a break or a blow, we’ve played Kennedy Tinsley, as we did in the Virginia Tech game last week, 6-8-10 plays at the middle linebacker position.
“We’ve played Kevin Reddick some in there. It is certainly somewhere Kevin is a lot more comfortable playing as an inside linebacker. So if someone needs a break or Bruce gets tired, then we move Quan to the outside. It’s not anything that’s a permanent change. It’s not anything other than trying to keep fresh guys and get guys into the game and get them some experience.
“But I’ll tell you this – we’re very pleased with Kevin Reddick’s growth and development. He and Shane Mularkey have done a very good job as young guys. Kennedy is a senior and we feel confident that he’s going to go into the game and execute and he understands the schemes well. But having the two young kids to get in there from time-to-time has really helped to keep our starters fresh.”
On Kevin Reddick's long-term potential:
“I clearly think that he’s a guy that’s going to have a really good chance to be a Mike linebacker in the middle, long-term. I think it’s always an advantage, as it was with Quan Sturdivant, when you can start off on the outside. It’s a little easier to see the game from the outside than it is in the middle. You would like to grow the middle linebackers into that position. It’s something that we did with Jonathan Vilma at Miami and certainly Ray Lewis and a lot of those guys, Dan Morgan. A lot of the linebackers that I had at the University of Miami all started off as Sam’s or Will’s, and before their careers were over with, they ended up moving to the middle linebacker position. That’s kind of what we’re trying to do here and I think eventually that’s the home where he’ll be, but it will take some time.”
On the defensive performance against Virginia Tech:
“I think the one thing that they did collectively as a defensive unit was that they executed the game plan. Every single week you’ve got certain things that you’ve got to get accomplished and all three pieces of your defense have to work together… Two of the three isn’t good enough. You could get a great pass rush and great coverage in the secondary, but if you’re linebackers are giving up things in the intermediate or short routes… You really have to execute the game plan. You’ve got to be disciplined and you’ve got to play your responsibilities, and from that standpoint, I think the Virginia Tech game is one of those games that we did a very good job.”
On using Terry Shankle against Duke:
“I don’t see us using Terry Shankle right now. He hasn’t played this season and we’re trying to red-shirt him along with another 10 or 12 of the true freshmen from last year’s recruiting class. We’d like to try to red-shirt those guys. Mywan Jackson has played some on some special teams and he’s gotten in on some limited stuff. He’s a kid that we might be able to find a way to get him into the ball game, but right now, it’s not something that we’re planning on trying to do.”