Former Miami defensive line coach Rick Petri has been hired to coach the same position group at Duke, and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will assume the lead role with Duke’s practice scheduling, weekly preparation and gameday play-calling, the school announced on Thursday.
Petri, a 34-year veteran in the college ranks, coached six seasons with Cutcliffe at Ole Miss.
“We are very fortunate to strengthen our defensive staff with the addition of Rick Petri,” Cutcliffe said in a prepared statement. “Rick is widely known in the coaching profession as one of the top teachers of defensive line play, and his track record of preparing young men for the National Football League speaks for itself. Also, his ideas and methods of helping players mature into young adults fit very well with our philosophies.
“Jim Knowles will coordinate our defense,” Cutcliffe said. “Rick will coach the defensive line, Jim Collins the linebackers and Derek Jones the secondary. I believe with this group of coaches we have assembled the finest defensive staff in America.”
Assembling standout staffs hasn't been a problem for Cutcliffe, but keeping them has -- not because they don't want to work for him, but because they were good enough to move on. If Duke is going to take the next step, though, there needs to be some continuity, particularly on defense, where there has been three different coordinators in as many seasons. Former defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre left Duke after the 2009 season to become the head coach at San Jose State, and Marion Hobby left Duke recently to coach the defensive line at Clemson.
Duke's defense really struggled to pressure quarterbacks last year and get into opponents' backfields, but those were two areas Miami flourished in, thanks to Petri's help. The Canes finished the 2010 season leading the nation in tackles for loss and tied for ninth in the country in sacks. He should help the Blue Devils become more aggressive up front.