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Cutcliffe, Doeren at peace with storm, preperations

Notre Dame NC State Football

Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) tries to escape North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb (9) as Notre Dame offensive lineman Colin McGovern (62) blocks during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

By random force of schedule, the 2-0 Duke Blue Devils will march on into Week 3.

While N.C. State, North Carolina and East Carolina all were forced earlier this week to call off games that were scheduled in the region of Hurricane Florence, Duke is headed to Baylor for a non-conference showdown against the Bears.

The travel schedule will be affected, though, said coach David Cutcliffe on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be unique. Because we’re leaving so early [Thursday], you’re actually leaving almost two days early because we’re going to practice tomorrow on the road at a high school and on Friday,” he said.

The normal schedule for an away game means a practice at home on Thursday, then a travel day on Friday for a game day on Saturday.

All of the extra planning has been finalized and shared with the team, including free time, meals, and where they might sleep if the hurricane forces them to stay in Texas for another night.

“I feel really good about the football portion of it,” said Cutcliffe, who will start quarterback Quentin Harris in the wake of Daniel Jones’ injury against Northwestern. “We did practice schedules and our football itinerary yesterday. We’re ready to go.”

For Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren, the possible severity of the hurricane has him at peace with missing out on a Power Five matchup on Saturday in Raleigh with West Virginia.

He coached through Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a drenched game N.C. State ended up winning against Notre Dame on a punt returned for a touchdown and a field goal. The initial message this weekend was to prepare just like they did two years ago, though the focus obviously shifted when it was announced Tuesday that the game wouldn’t be played.

The Wolfpack do have an open week on Oct. 13, though Doeren was non-committal on whether that could serve as a 12th game on the schedule.

“That would then make us play nine straight without a bye there. That’s not great for your team either. But I think we have to look at all the options at this point because you do want to have 12 regular season games,” Doeren said. “We haven’t gotten to that point. I spent all day yesterday from 1 p.m. on just trying to make sure our players and staff were safe, that we had a good plan.”

When East Carolina made the decision not to travel to Blacksburg for its Saturday game against Virginia Tech, Hokies’ coach Justin Fuente accepted the decision and turned the week into a “self-improvement” week, he said on Wednesday.

There was a minor controversy on Twitter on Tuesday night that Virginia Tech and athletics director Whit Babcock were not being sensitive enough to the serious threat Greenville faces, but Babcock cleared the air, and Fuente on Wednesday began his availability by offering his “thoughts and prayers.”

Fuente, whose roster includes Nash Central grad Houshun Gaines and Southern Nash grad Nadir Thompson, added that he’s never had a game cancelled, but knew immediately what to do when ECU made its decision.

“We changed our message almost instantaneously from focusing on preparing for an opponent to focusing on preparing for the rest of the season,” he said.

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