Mike Elko, the head coach of the Duke football team, had his weekly news conference on Monday afternoon in Durham.
On Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium’s Brooks Field, the Blue Devils take on Wake Forest. Wes Durham, Roddy Jones, and Taylor Davis will be on the call for the ACC Network coverage of the game. The game may also be listened on the Goduke app or the Blue Devil Sports Network from LEARFIELD.
Coach of the football team Mike Elko Duke (Ref.: Opening Statement)
“Cheers to Thanksgiving! I thank you everyone being here throughout this unique week. Reviewing the Pitt game, I was not pleased with how we performed for the first three quarters. We didn’t play as well as I believed we were capable of. I believe we injured ourselves much too often. Credit to Pitt; they prevailed in the physical struggle. However, we were unable to establish our run game as we desired, which, in my opinion, caused us to fall more behind than was necessary. Uncharacteristic errors on our special teams undoubtedly damaged us a lot. On the road, we were down by two touchdowns, which is never a good situation to be in. However, our youngsters responded like they have all season: they battled. They battled back all the way, and the defense made some critical stops. I felt the defense played great throughout the day, and we were able to string some drives together. Fortunately, Rocky [Shelton II] makes a tremendous tackle on the punter on the special teams play, giving us an opportunity to tie the game at that point. I’m once again happy of our perseverance and the way we keep pursuing our goals, but to have a chance against a strong football club on the road, we simply need to play better football for the whole three quarters. The lessons from it were those.
“The next stop is Wake Forest. Clearly, they are a really skilled group. One of, if not the finest quarterback in this league, offensively. At the conclusion of the season, he and Drake Maye will undoubtedly compete for all of those awards. Sam [Hartman] just plays at a very high caliber. He can make every throw and has excellent field vision. He has been throwing the ball all over the place for years and is basically a hard-nosed competitor who wills his side to victory. They seem to have a ton of skill. a large number of skilled wide receivers in their massive, towering frames who have excelled. Two active positions that are capable of making plays. an offensive line with a great deal of experience that is incredibly proficient in running that scheme and very successful doing it. They just pass via tailbacks, who are explosively talented runners who are highly at ease and physically fit. This team is incredibly dynamic offensively. They have been doing it for a very long time, operate a fantastic plan, and get excellent coaching. There will be a significant struggle on that end, and they have made significant defensive progress. They are playing really hard, in my opinion, and seem to be getting used to what Coach [Brad] Lambert is asking them to do. Every week, I believe you will start to see them becoming more at ease with how they want to play their system and plan. They play with a lot of intensity and may attack you from the front. Their defensive line is incredibly strong, which is impressive. Since they are really well taught and have strong fundamentals, and since I have known Coach [Dave] Cohen for a very long time, we will face a significant task. It will be crucial that we show there and perform to the best of our abilities. In what is going to be a very momentous day for our seniors at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium, we’re attempting to send them out in the appropriate manner. We must concentrate, reenergize, and recover with an excellent practice week. A short shout-out to our men’s and women’s soccer programs is one of the other things I want to mention. We are ecstatic to see both of those teams make it farther. Congratulations to those guys and good luck going through to those groups as our men’s program advances to the sweet 16 and the ladies move on to the elite eight.”
(Ref. : The cause of the ball running difficulty)
“Just their deciding to halt the run was all it took. They play a lot of man-to-man coverage on the outside and make you throw the ball, so that is a significant component of what they do. We weren’t able to generate the same physical push that we did in the majority of the games we played this year, which prevented us from opening up a lot of space. A issue arises when there are many individuals in the box and there is no room for them to shift about and make room. There were many people around and we weren’t able to get our space as effectively as we would have liked in order to make the runs we needed to. It wasn’t a movement challenge or particularly a blitz challenge. It becomes harder and tougher as you go behind in the chains, as you fall behind in the score, and it wasn’t a great day for us overall. Naturally, we have excelled at it throughout the year, but on Saturday we just fell short of our goals.”
(Ref. : How to strike a balance between the errors that surface later in the year and the fact that there have been few up to this time.)
“As a coach, you worry about everything that appears. Just the coach in you is doing that. Nobody ever intends for those things to happen, and it most definitely isn’t out of a lack of want or care. You address them like they are big deals and you fix them like they are big deals, but you fixed them weeks prior if ball security wasn’t exactly what you wanted it to be or decision making wasn’t exactly what you wanted it to be. No one wants such performances to take place, therefore I included Jontavis [Robertson] in the group of those youngsters who were highly traumatized. They surely attempt to prevent them from happening, but if they do, they’ll be more serious and lose you games. We have relied on those youngsters for so many plays this year that we will unquestionably throw them back into the fray and depend on them to perform as well as they have for the bulk of the year.”
(See: How Jordan Moore excelled at a new job so quickly.) “believe he is very athletic. His incredible natural athleticism, in my opinion, is where most of it begins. He will probably be the first to admit that he has to do a lot of work on honing his skill as a wide receiver. Not to look forward, but to just be enthusiastic about what he can become after spending the whole summer preparing to become a wide receiver. He can make electric catches, as we have seen going all the way back to August, so I think there were some special circumstances in that game. However, his ability to make a one-handed catch on the sidelines or the week prior against Virginia Tech strikes me as pure athleticism, and he has been able to do that since day one. He performed better on several of those plays than he had in prior weeks. A portion of it was due to the game’s circumstances and the way it ended—specific coverages and a higher number of balls.”
(Referring to Jordan Moore’s perseverance in learning a new position despite losing the starting quarterback job) “e is a fantastic young man. That is who he is, and we have said it before and will continue to say it, so it is a tribute to him, his family, and the way he was reared. Seeing such thing is amazing since it is becoming less and less common. He is a team player who wants to do all in his power to assist the team win, and he undoubtedly had an influence on football games. He deserves congratulations for earning Co-ACC Player of the Week honors this week.”
(Referring to how Riley Leonard will be prepared for this weekend’s additional quarterback duel)
“I’ll carry on like I have every other week and let you people handle it. Riley will enter the field with a very large chip on his shoulder, and I’m sure you guys will write the tales and keep writing them the same way you have all year. It should be a lot of fun. He handles these situations effectively. He has a strong sense of rivalry. He is aware of the league’s reputation and who the most well-liked players are; Sam [Hartman] is not being disparaged; he has earned it. Sam has played more football and made more plays than anybody else in this league due to his extended tenure. Riley has shown that he can compete each week, therefore I believe he will contend.”
(See Riley Leonard’s performance last Saturday, which included little use of his legs.)
“In many respects, that day was difficult. The way they built up their box, in my opinion, eliminated a lot of Riley’s zone read plays, which he has been fairly effective at. In many of those situations, you’ll be forced to hand the ball over and the quarterback won’t be allowed to run with it. The next question is how many design runs should he play against a nine-man box with screaming downhill safeties. You don’t want to run him 20 times in a game like that with the way they set up and the way their box looks, but we ran some and in crucial circumstances when we needed to. Then, because we were unable to rely on the rushing game, he was forced to throw the ball across the field while facing a wind blowing at 20 mph, which wasn’t an easy task. I thus believed that he played well at times and that it seemed nice at others. There were undoubtedly occasions when he didn’t, didn’t make his readings or progressions quickly enough, or didn’t distribute the ball as well as he would have wanted. He is a first-year starter, so everything is a learning curve for him. He is learning how to do it in every aspect, in every setting, and against every defense, and he will emerge from it this week better for it.”
Referring to the defense’s two interceptions in the second half
“I considered Speedy’s [Datrone Young’s] play on the one to be incredibly fantastic. They attempted to throw a trail wheel down the sideline, which is kind of a normal peripheral redzone play, while he was in zone coverage. When Speedy saw it, he immediately reacted, came out of his shell, and made a play. The young person deserves much more praise for it. Dropping plenty of people into coverage was one of the things we attempted to accomplish throughout the day. He sometimes had more time than in prior weeks. We attempted to drop eight a lot into coverage because we thought they would be prepared for the blitz game. We dropped eight, and I believe that because of his apparent concern, he attempted to locate someone over the center too late, which allowed Shaka Heyward to catch it underneath.”
(Ref. : On whether or not the outside noise matters in a season finale and keeping up the brand’s development)
“It all counts, in my opinion. I’m not sure whether there is more pressure or want, but there are definitely topics that we discuss. We discuss how important eight and four are, as well as how important five ACC victories are. We discuss how to improve our bowl game performance by putting ourselves in better positions. All of those topics are undoubtedly topics that we discuss because we speak about winning games versus local rivals. These are topics that are really essential to our program, but we strive not to approach them with an increased sense of urgency or significance. On Saturday, I believe our youngsters will be prepared to play and will have their antennas up.”
(Reference: Understanding Wake Forest’s offense and halting the slow mesh) “Sincerely, it didn’t begin until after I departed. The final game I coached was a bowl game versus Temple, and it really began to show in that game. After I departed, it really took off. I wasn’t really present when it was operating as it does today. We’ve worked on it extensively as a team, and it is undoubtedly distinct. It demands a lot of focus. We need to be very specific about how we will carry out our plan of action to stop it. I’m not sure whether I have the inside information from my time there that I wish I had.”
(Ref. : The scout offense’s emphasis on replicating the sluggish mesh)
“I would be in a great position right now if my scout team quarterback could perform similarly to what Sam [Hartman] does on Saturdays. That is what you want to do each week. This week, we’re going to spend a little more time viewing movies and going on walks with our scout team. We are lucky to have two really intelligent quarterbacks for our scout team in Gavin Spurrier and Ty Lenhart. They both have a deep understanding of the game. They have done a pretty fantastic job executing and given us really nice looks all year, so I believe we can at the very least educate them what we are trying to do on each play.”
If there is anything unusual about the Thanksgiving plan, please mention it here “On Thursday, we’re going to let them see their relatives. On Thursday morning, we’ll have practice before letting the boys depart. I simply believe it’s vital to allow kids be around family when you play at home since you probably only go home every other year for the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll practice early and then have lunch at the Washington Duke for anybody who needs a place to go for Thanksgiving dinner or doesn’t have anyplace to go. Since the majority of our men are locals, I believe that many of them are either returning home or bringing other men with them in an effort to spend more time with their families. It’s fascinating because sometimes coaches exaggerate that. If we have a regular practice on a Thursday morning, the kids won’t come up until walkthrough on Friday. Due to the fact that it is Thanksgiving, we won’t hold them here as if we wouldn’t see them anyhow. Instead, we’ll let them depart on Thursday afternoon so they can spend some time with family.”
(See: How much of Saturday’s Senior Day ceremony attendees should take in.)
“You may deduce from the absence of males that they are now planning to return and continue participating in the program. I doubt that I would infer anyone’s intentions from their presence. Anyone who is unsure about what they will do in the future or in which direction they are headed will, I believe, walk because we have encouraged them to. I never want a child to complete this program without ever having the opportunity to be acknowledged as a senior. There will be some players on the pitch who will return, and there will be other players who won’t. Anyone who is not now on the pitch, at least, has the goal of returning, I believe you can say with confidence.”
(Referring to how he would sum up his rookie year with just a few games remaining) “ectic. What do you say? It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve really appreciated having the chance to experience it and run a program. I value a lot of the individuals at this institution. There are so many individuals who have supported me through this, and it has been a lot of fun, including members of our administration, members of our sports department, children in our locker room, coaches, and players in our facility. Building this program and cultivating this culture has been a lot of joy. Duke football is still being elevated to the potential levels at which we feel it to exist. Always, the first year is competitive. It used to be a constant topic of conversation; the race goes on until signing day. We’re getting there because it seems like you’re always running from the moment you start working until signing day the following year.