Prior to preparing for Pitt, Duke loses game, starting left tackle
Duke comes to Heinz Field on Saturday, perhaps in a more desperation situation than Pitt.
After a 28-14 loss to Virginia, the Blue Devils (5-2, 1-2 ACC) are two games behind Coastal Division leader Virginia Tech (4-2, 3-0). A loss to Pitt (3-4, 2-1) would all but mathematically end Duke’s hopes for a division championship.
After the Virginia game, the bad news continued for Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who lost starting offensive left tackle Jaylen Miller to a fractured right ankle. He had season-ending surgery Sunday morning.
Miller, a redshirt sophomore, had started the past three games. He will be replaced by the former starter at that position, fifth-year senior Christian Harris, who lost the job to Miller after the fourth game. “Every week, we’re paying a big price,” Cutcliffe said.
Miller will become the 11th Duke player with starting experience to miss at least one game this season.
But Cutcliffe said Sunday on goduke.com that his team’s problems go deeper than injuries.
He was most distressed by the way his defense responded after the offense scored its only two touchdowns. Both times, Virginia (5-2, 3-1) maintained control by getting a first down on its first play from scrimmage.
“It starts with blocking and tackling,” Cutcliffe said. “We didn’t block any great length of time on offense and we didn’t tackle very well on defense. “All of that I have to own, along with schematically some breakdowns. That’s what your job is as head football coach -- put a team out there that is prepared, crisp and ready to accomplish all the things you put in front of them.
“We got good people. We really do. I believe that, deep in my heart. It’s time for everybody here to show it.”
Duke has lost two of its past three games after starting the season 4-0 and earning a No. 22 national ranking in the Associated Press poll.
“We got a whole great season in front of us, five huge football games one at a time,” Cutcliffe said. “I don’t see anybody around here hanging their head.
“We have to jump in there with both feet and see what happens.”
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