Like Georgia Tech, Duke trying to find answers after tough defeat

North Carolina running back Ty Chandler (19) runs while Duke defensive end Caleb Oppan (97) and Duke safety Lummie Young IV (23) reach to tackle during the second half Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Gerry Broome/AP)

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North Carolina running back Ty Chandler (19) runs while Duke defensive end Caleb Oppan (97) and Duke safety Lummie Young IV (23) reach to tackle during the second half Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Gerry Broome/AP)

As Georgia Tech heads into its matchup at Duke on Saturday trying to redeem itself from a game in which coaches said that the defense in particular did not respond well to adversity, the Yellow Jackets will face a team that is in the same position.

Facing archrival North Carolina a week ago (which itself was surely seeking to prove itself after getting thrashed by Tech the week before), the Blue Devils fell behind 14-0 early in the second quarter on a 75-yard pass play and a 63-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and went on to lose 38-7 in Chapel Hill.

It was not dissimilar to Tech falling behind 14-0, the second score on an interception returned for a touchdown, and then getting scrambled by Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett in a 52-21 home defeat. Coach Geoff Collins said Tuesday that “adversity set in very, very early in the game and, uncharacteristically, we didn’t respond to that challenge.”

“What’s the answer?” Duke coach David Cutcliffe asked Monday at his weekly news conference. “Everybody wonders, and I’ve told our team this and I’ve told our staff this and I mentioned it, it all starts here. When those things as a team aren’t happening, that’s the head football coach. You own it and everybody has to own their own area. You own it, and then you run to the solutions. You don’t walk. You don’t run away ever. You run to the solutions.”

Cutcliffe said the response this week was to create adverse situations in practice.

“Life is hard, and I really believe I’m doing a disservice to them if I don’t create more adversity because you know what, life later is going to be harder than Duke football or David Cutcliffe,” he said. “So, yeah, we’ve got to find a way to turn up the heat a little bit. That way, you know what they’re capable of doing.”

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