Duke, Notre Dame looking for answers to inconsistent play
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Duke and Notre Dame are looking to stop being consistently inconsistent.
The Fighting Irish and Blue Devils are off to 1-2 starts. The Irish fell behind by double digits in losses to Texas and Michigan State and rallied in both games but couldn't pull out victories. Coach Brian Kelly blames a lack of urgency for Notre Dame's uneven play.
''We do some really good things, and then we do some really sloppy things. To be the kind of football team we want to be, we have to eliminate that,'' he said.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe is looking for more consistency offensively and cutting down on turnovers with 10 so far, second most among FBS schools.
''If we can accomplish those two things, we have a chance of having a really good offensive football team,'' he said.
Quarterback Daniel Jones said the Blue Devils need to execute better.
''It doesn't really matter who the opponent is or kind of what they're doing. It's about us executing every single play and raising our level of consistency,'' he said.
Defensively, the Blue Devils gave up seven passes that produced 245 yards in a 24-13 loss to Northwestern last week. Cutcliffe said those few plays have overshadowed better defensive play.
''We're playing better defense and people that don't know us might look at me like I have three heads,'' he said.
Other things to watch for when Duke plays at Notre Dame:
Duke's kickers are struggling. AJ Reed has missed all three field goals he's tried and also has missed a point-after attempt. Punter Austin Parker has twice fumbled snaps, including one against Northwestern with the score tied 7-7 and he was tackled on the 44-yard line. Northwestern scored on the next play. Cutcliffe said he's trying not to make an issue of either.
''As soon as you make it a huge issue, then you have people trembling,'' he said.
The 36 points scored by Michigan State last week were the fewest allowed by the Irish against Power Five conference opponents in four games dating back to last season. Overall, the Irish have given up 30 or more points in six of its past eight games against Power Five teams.
Cutcliffe worked briefly at Notre Dame during Charlie Weis' first season in 2005, but resigned about five months later because he hadn't fully recovered from triple bypass surgery. Cutcliffe said he was involved mainly in recruiting. He was asked this week about how fervent the Irish fan base is. He told reporters it might be a better question for athletic director Kevin White, who was athletic director at Notre Dame from 2000-08.
''I have one response: Not a chance,'' White said.
Cutcliffe said he has great respect for Notre Dame and said the pressure to perform at any traditional football power is intense. He said fans expect teams to be ''near perfect.''
''The pace Alabama's been on over the last few years has put the onus on all (the) elite 10-15 teams,'' he said.
Duke is tied for third in the nation with 14 sacks while the Irish are tied for last with none. DeVon Edwards, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound safety, has three of Duke's sacks. Cutcliffe describes Edwards as ''unbelievably strong.''
''So when he does get his hands on the quarterback, they're going down,'' he said.
CLEARED TO PLAY
Kelly said the school has held disciplinary hearings for four players who were arrested in August on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession along with safety Max Redfield, who was dismissed from the team. He said starting linebacker Te'von Coney and three reserves - running back Dexter Williams, wide receiver Kevin Stepherson and cornerback Ashton White - all remain eligible to play.
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Durham, North Carolina, contributed to this report.
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