Duke

Interviews: Duke's Laken Tomlinson, Kelby Brown

Posted July 20, 2014

Duke's Laken Tomlinson answers questions from the media on the first day of the ACC Football Kickoff at the Grandover in Greensboro, July 20, 2014.

Q. For all the success Duke has had the last few years, Duke football still hasn't won a bowl game in 54 years. You're a senior. What would it mean to you personally and what would it mean to the program to finally break that drought this year?

LAKEN TOMLINSON: It would mean a lot to me. I mean, since coming in the past two years going to bowl games and losing, it puts a bad feel on you as a person and as a program, and you know, losing that last game means a lot. It's a good motivator for us to work even harder in the off-season so we can hopefully next season go to a bowl game and win a bowl game. It means a lot to me coming in as a senior my last season, and I mean, we're going to do whatever it takes to finally get that win.

Q. The linemen across the ACC, some pretty elite company.

LAKEN TOMLINSON: Yeah, we have some great offensive linemen in the ACC, just looking at each school, at Florida State, Boston College. These guys, they exemplify great offense with a great run game, so that's what we try to kind of do at Duke, too. We're usually a passing team, but over the years we've made major growth in our run offense, and that's definitely showing our winning record. I mean, I think the offensive line in the ACC is just phenomenal.

Q. Do you expect to be picked to win your division?

LAKEN TOMLINSON: Oh, of course. I mean, that's the goal, and even the entire ACC. That's what we want to do, and that's what we work hard every day for.

Q. What can you say about the progression of Duke football? Across the country a lot of people know about the basketball side of it, but you've fought to establish yourself in the ACC and nationally. Talk about that.

LAKEN TOMLINSON: Coming in as a freshman at Duke University, obviously Duke wasn't a strong program, but working under the leadership of Coach Cutcliffe and some fantastic staff members we have there at Duke University, it's just been an extraordinary experience to be a part of a team that's come from so little, like everyone expecting so little from us, to being one of the top teams in the ACC. It definitely means a lot to me, and we're going to keep working hard every day to try to be No. 1. 

Q. Your offense got so much from Brandon Connette the last couple years. What are you going to do to replace his playmaking and effectiveness in the red zone?

LAKEN TOMLINSON: Brandon Connette obviously was a very talented quarterback for us, he made some really big plays, really key plays for us last season that won us some games, but honestly I think our team will be just as fine without him because we have more talent coming out this year that can replace Brandon Connette. We have Boone, he can also run the ball, too, and we have Thomas Sirk, our No. 2 quarterback right now. He's been working with the 1s and trying to get acclimated to the system that we're running here at Duke University. I don't have any doubts that we'll be just as effective offense-wise.

Q. Laken, you suffered major losses, Jim talked about one, and there are others. Obviously you feel Duke's football program has matured to the point where you can have losses and still thrive and get better. What about the change in Duke's program makes you feel that you can do that?

LAKEN TOMLINSON: Honestly, I would say it starts with the recruiting, getting the great athletes that we have at Duke University into the program has been just a phenomenal thing for us. Being able to replace guys even if they're hurt or not able to play, that's just the one thing that we have now that we didn't have three or four years ago.

Q. I'll ask you the same thing that we asked Laken. Do you expect tomorrow when the poll comes out that you'll be picked to win the coastal, and have you guys been treated with the respect of a champion?

KELBY BROWN: To be honest, man, I probably won't look at that poll. I'm sure someone will call me and let me know, but I'm not too worried about where we end up on that thing. We've been lost in that poll for years and years. People have given us a lot more respect for sure. Luckily we have another season to prove that we deserve it. Last season is over, man; I'm excited to move forward and do bigger and better things this year.

Q. Kelby, last year a lot of big 3rd-down situations in which the Duke defense came up big. What was the difference going into 2013 from 2012, and how are you preparing for this season?

KELBY BROWN: Yeah, speaking about 3rd downs, 3rd down is probably my favorite down, and what happened last year is we had a mentality change. 3rd-and-1 is probably my favorite play in football. I think that I can stop every 3rd-and-1 that I've ever faced. It's just a defensive change. It's a mindset change. It's guys that know we can step up and make plays when we need to, and we're excited to do it.

Q. Kelby, Jim Knowles came from our area, coached at Cornell as you know. Defensive numbers statistically, though, maybe not what you guys wanted last year. Talk about working with Jim, what he does for the defense and what maybe he's trying to do differently this year?

KELBY BROWN: Yeah, coach Knowles is a technician. He's the big-picture guy. He knows where every single person has to fit. He could probably coach every position. It all stems from him. He's got those little details that we need to work on. That's what we've been working on all off-season is figuring out the little minute details that we missed on last year. I think if we can correct those things it will help us be more consistent and help us get the huge stops instead of letting up those big explosive plays that we let up last year.

Q. Kelby, you lost a couple really good pass defenders, and most of your pressure people, the guys that attacked the quarterback, are gone, and yet all the playmakers, leading tacklers, yourselves, David, Jeremy, you're all back. Talk about how Duke's defense will evolve this year, can you get enough pressure, can those guys keep the blockers off you tacklers?

KELBY BROWN: Yeah, man, the good thing is we've got a lot of experience in the middle, me, Cash and David, and we're the bridge between the front and the back. We're the guys that can help the defensive secondary stay on page and the front really get pressure. We've got a lot of athletes coming up. We lost experience in Kenny and Fox, but we've got guys who are faster than both of them who I think can put great pressure off the edges. It'll be a matter of helping those young guys in the middle step up and understand how to hold their own, how to be tough. That's probably the toughest position on the field is defensive tackle, so it's going to be our job to lead them and encourage them throughout the season.

'Q. Duke is used to Final Fours in basketball. How neat is it for your sport to now have an aiming point of a Final Four?

KELBY BROWN: Man, I love it, because in the past no matter where Duke football finished, it would be really hard for us to make the National Championship. Now if we win our conference, with a really good record, I think we can make that playoff system. It's just, it helps us achieve our goals in a different way. It's cool to be in the playoffs, man. High school playoffs is one of the coolest things ever. We didn't have that in college, but now we do. For the four teams who make it, it still means you can't lose a game if you want to make it, but it's exciting to be able to play a playoff system for a National Championship.

Q. What can you say about the talent that's come into the ACC? You'll be playing Syracuse this season, you've played Pittsburgh, what can you say about where the ACC is heading and how it challenges you at Duke?

KELBY BROWN: I'm really proud to be part of the ACC. I grew up in the South, a lot of SEC fans around. I couldn't be prouder to be in the ACC. I really love the additions. I think they're great fits, both academically, athletically, and it's cool, man, I had a fun time playing Pittsburgh. It's been cool getting to know some of these guys this weekend at the media kickoff. I think that they're great fits for the conference and they really add a lot, especially with Louisville coming in late, just a whole new dimension to our conference.

Comments

Please to add a comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Big 10: Michigan at Michigan State

    Tomorrow at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Super Bowl: Seattle vs. New England

    Tomorrow at 6:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
1st
NYR 2
CAR 0
 
1st
UVA 21
DUKE 24
 
1st
ETST 20
NCCU 28
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
CHA
2nd
ORL 17
DAL 34
 
2nd
IND 23
SAC 36
 
2nd
WAS 30
TOR 39
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
HOU
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
PHI
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
CLE
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
OKC
8:30pm Tonight
MIL
POR
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
CHA
9:00pm Tonight
SAN
LAC
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
PHO
Final
TENN 71
AUB 63
Final
CLEM 64
BC 49
Final
STJOE 75
DAVID 70
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
PITT 76
ND 72
Final
STJ 75
PROV 66
Final
UNH 63
USB 48
 
Final
WVU 77
TTU 58
Final
TEMPL 55
TULA 37
Final
EMICH 69
WMICH 63
 
Final
IOWA 63
WISC 74
Final
SHU 90
XAV 82
Final
UF 57
ARK 56
Final
STET 75
LIP 73
 
Final
ILL 60
PSU 58
Final
TULSA 78
SFLA 71
Final
INDST 64
BRAD 58
 
Final
MAINE 59
GTDNS 77
 
Final
LEH 89
BU 86
 
Final
MARQ 68
BUT 72
Final
DEL 71
COC 68
 
Final
CREI 40
GEOR 67
Final
CLST 76
UWGB 62
 
Final
NEOM 65
MAST 75
 
Final
LOYC 45
ILLST 48
 
Final
KU 68
KYST 57
Final
JVU 50
KNST 51
 
Final
MSST 73
LSU 67
Final
SHU 71
MNTER 77
 
Final
VCU 55
RICH 64
Final
ISU 83
TCU 66
Final
BING 76
MLOWELL 69
 
Final
HART 46
VERM 65
 
Final
DEP 55
VILL 68
Final
WAKE 73
VT 70
Final
UGST 74
ARKST 43
 
Final
FAM 44
COOK 61
 
Final
NDAK 80
IDST 69
 
Final
ARMY 71
GHND 77
 
Final
BEL 71
TENT 53
 
Final
TXSA 57
UAB 65
Final
ILLCH 65
VALPO 70
 
Final
DRAK 70
EVAN 65
 
Final
IND 72
RUTG 64
Final
UMO 79
BST 73
 
Final
RMU 68
BRY 71
 
Final
WAGN 86
CCST 55
 
Final
GWEBB 66
CCAR 64
 
Final
MDES 92
COPST 82
 
Final
RFLSH 68
FD 63
 
Final
RIU 59
GWU 55
Final
SCAR 67
UGA 50
 
Final
Terriers 81
LIU 64
 
Final
PAC 71
LMU 76
 
Final
STLU 56
UMASS 60
Final
HOW 64
MRGST 48
 
Final
DREX 85
UNCW 76
 
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
Final
MIZZ 47
MISS 67
Final
ALCOR 51
SOUTH 59
 
Final
NIOWA 70
WICHS 54
Final
JMU 65
WMARY 84
 
Final
RAD 73
WINT 66
 
Final
EILL 57
SIUE 54
 
Final
UNCA 70
CAMP 63
 
Final
MORE 57
EKENT 66
 
Final
NICST 58
INCWORD 69
 
Final
CMICH 74
OHIO 69
 
Final
TEXAM 69
VANDY 58
Final
UWMIL 78
DET 74
 
Final
UNCG 73
WCU 78
 
Final
EWASH 98
IDAHO 95
 
Final
SDKST 69
DEN 39
 
Final
SHSU 63
HOUB 52
 
Final
MVSU 75
JST 62
 
2nd
TXST 62
LALAF 60
 
Final
LATU 81
MARS 57
 
Final
SD 72
ORU 73
 
Final
LAMON 67
SALA 61
 
Half
PVU 47
ALAAM 23
 
2nd
GRAM 29
ARKPB 40
 
2nd
PRIN 59
DART 49
 
2nd
SCST 43
DELST 38
 
2nd
COLST 64
FRES 37
 
2nd
MINN 49
NEB 42
 
2nd
WYO 50
NEV 45
 
2nd
GAELS 52
PEPP 49
 
2nd
NW 44
PURD 55
 
2nd
BAY 64
TEX 48
 
2nd
CHAT 64
CITA 55
 
2nd
SMISS 44
WKENT 58
 
2nd
CORN 44
YALE 54
 
2nd
NORST 32
HAMP 24
 
2nd
SAV 30
NCAT 31
 
1st
BGU 26
AKR 19
 
1st
KENT 28
ALA 13
 
1st
CLMB 32
BRO 28
 
1st
LIB 16
CSOU 27
 
1st
BUCK 25
COL 25
 
1st
UVA 21
DUKE 24
 
1st
NE 30
ELON 25
 
1st
CHAR 28
FIU 38
 
1st
ODU 26
FATL 20
 
1st
SAMF 22
FUR 27
 
1st
DUQ 16
GMAS 12
 
1st
PENN 13
HARV 22
 
1st
LBSU 21
HAW 25
 
1st
BONA 18
LAS 20
 
1st
NAVY 27
LAF 33
 
1st
PBY 13
LONG 26
 
1st
WOFF 18
MERC 26
 
1st
ETST 20
NCCU 28
 
1st
MCNST 10
NO 5
 
1st
FLGC 27
NKENTUCKY 16
 
1st
IONA 12
PETE 19
 
1st
UNF 29
USCU 22
 
1st
LAM 13
ABCHRIST 9
 
7:30pm Tonight
GSOUT
ARKLR
 
1st
STEPH 10
TAMCC 8
 
8:00pm Tonight
UCR
CSNO
 
8:00pm Tonight
SELA
NWST
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKST
OKLA
8:00pm Tonight
UNT
RICE
8:00pm Tonight
SDU
USF
 
8:00pm Tonight
NMU
SJST
8:00pm Tonight
PEAY
SEMIZ
 
8:00pm Tonight
NILL
TOL
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOF
TOWS
 
8:00pm Tonight
SMU
UCF
8:00pm Tonight
MURST
TENNM
 
8:00pm Tonight
SDST
UTST
8:05pm Tonight
MIZST
SILL
 
8:15pm Tonight
TXARL
TROY
 
8:30pm Tonight
TXSOU
ALAST
 
8:30pm Tonight
TENST
JVST
 
8:30pm Tonight
WASU
STAN
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
CHIST
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
MTST
9:00pm Tonight
SUTAH
NARZ
 
9:00pm Tonight
BYU
SCU
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
TXPA
 
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
WEBER
 
10:00pm Tonight
UNLV
AFA
10:00pm Tonight
UCD
CPSL
 
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
MEM
10:00pm Tonight
CALST
SEAT
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCI
UCSB
 
10:05pm Tonight
SACST
MONT
 
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
MNTST
 
10:30pm Tonight
UCLA
COL
10:30pm Tonight
WLVRN
UMKC
 
Final
DET 4
NYI 1
1st
NYR 2
CAR 0
 
1st
WIN 0
DAL 1
 
1st
NJD 2
FLA 0
 
1st
PHI 1
TOR 0
 
1st
TAM 0
CLB 0
 
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
EDM
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
CHI