Notes from David Cutcliffe's Wednesday teleconference call

The Duke head coach spoke highly of AJ Long and the rest of the Orange prior to their Saturday showdown.

Duke (7-1) head football coach David Cutcliffe spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon during the Atlantic Coast Conference's weekly coaches teleconference.

Not surprisingly, Cutcliffe talked about the Blue Devils' upcoming date with Syracuse (3-6) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. 

After escaping Pittsburgh with a three-point, double-overtime victory last weekend, the veteran head coach said he expects another grind-it-out game against the Orange. Cutcliffe complimented SU head coach Scott Shafer, whom he respects greatly for the way he teaches his team to be disciplined and tough on every down.

"They're a big, physical team," Cutcliffe said. "You better strap it on and be ready to play."

Known for his ability to groom young quarterbacks, Cutcliffe also had high praise for SU freshman signal-caller AJ Long. He said Long possesses, among other traits, courage and a very dangerous arm.

"(Long) has an exceptionally-quick release," he said. "He's accurate on both curls and outs."

Complicating matters is the Orange's talented crop of wide receivers, whom Cutcliffe commended for their physical play and ability to battle in tight coverage.

Knowing SU needs to win its final three games to qualify for a postseason bowl, he said he expects to face a scrappy team that won't stop fighting, much like the Panthers squad that nearly knocked the Devils out of first place in the ACC Coastal division last weekend.

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