|Navy looks for 5th straight win against Duke|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 12 September 2008 08:02|
It was easy for the Blue Devils to maintain that mind-set after winning their season opener. Now Duke is coming off last weekend's close loss to Northwestern and have to play the Midshipmen - who have won the last four meetings in ways that have added to the perennial here-we-go-again feeling around Wallace Wade Stadium.
``We can't control what happened last year anymore,'' fullback Tielor Robinson said. ``We can't even control what happened last week. But we can control what we do today and right now. That's something I took to heart from coach Cutcliffe. I hate losing and obviously I've seen my fair share of it, and it puts a whole different perspective on things.''
2006, while the other two were by a combined 10 points. Last year's game was particularly frustrating for the Blue Devils, who led 43-32 in the fourth quarter before the Midshipmen rallied to win 46-43 on a field goal as time expired.
First-year Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, an assistant under Paul Johnson last year, said his team was ``lucky'' to win the game. The scenario, however, was all too familiar for Duke, which has found all kinds of ways to lose games over the years. It's part of the reason that Cutcliffe has spoken so openly about working to change the gloomy culture of a program that entered the year with 22 wins in 13 years.
This week, that meant saying the team was not happy with being .500 after the 24-20 loss to Northwestern.
``You can't depend on other people and other things to get you ready,'' Cutcliffe said. ``That starts coming from within. I can see that on the practice field. I could see that around the (team) motel on Friday nights. We've been a pretty focused football team to this point, and I don't see any reason for that to change.''
Niumatalolo has noticed the change in attitude heading into this weekend's game.
Duke has shown its biggest improvement on offense, where Cutcliffe's system has helped the Blue Devils average nearly 26 points and 420 yards per game. But their biggest challenge could be stopping Navy's run-oriented attack, which has averaged a national-best 452 yards in the first two games. Shun White has led that effort, running for a school-record 348 yards in the opening win against Towson followed by 128 yards in a loss at Ball State.
Regardless, the Blue Devils figure they have plenty of reason to feel optimistic that they can win their third of four straight home games to open the season.
``If we were playing great, some of the plays we left out on the field would be made,'' Duke quarterback Thad Lewis said. ``We're trying to get to that point where we're not just playing good or well, but playing great.''