The start of the 2016 college football season is fast approaching. Its time to take a look at what to expect from the Blue Devils on the gridiron this fall
February’s news of Thomas Sirk’s torn achilles brought some real uncertainty to the quarterback position for the Blue Devils. Somehow, miraculously, Sirk has nearly recovered from what is usually a devastating football injury. In just six months time the senior quarterback has returned to good enough health to start practice with the team this week. While the staff may ease him into to drills to start practice, there seems little, if any, doubt that Sirk will be ready to start week one. Now instead of wondering who is going to take his place the focus will be on improving as a quarterback and running the offense.
Sirk showed his dynamic skill set in his first season as a starter, ranking 3rd in the ACC in total yards, 4th in total touchdowns, 2nd in completions, and leading the Blue Devils in rushing yards. Sirk displayed a great understanding of the option offense as well as timely, clutch playmaking that isn’t always measurable, most notably in late game drives against Virginia Tech, Miami, and Indiana.
That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of room for improvement. There were times when the Duke offense became very stagnant and predictable and other times when Sirk really struggled to connect on down the field routes. Sirk needs to improve on his 58% completion percentage as well. While some of these things will be up to Sirk to correct himself, some of the shortcomings can certainly be explained by the lack of an experienced number one receiver on last year’s team. Talents like Jamison Crowder can cover up a lot of warts on offense, but they don’t stay around forever. The late season emergence of Anthony Nash and the continued development of Duke’s young core of receivers and tight ends will only make things easier on Sirk this season.
Backup Parker Boehme saw plenty of action last year, including getting one start against Pitt while Sirk was out with injury. He did show some good touch on down the field throws, but overall is still behind Sirk when it comes to all around QB play. Boehme may see a little more time this season if only to limit the number of hits Thomas Sirk takes during the course of the game.
Behind Sirk and Boehme will be redshirt freshmen Daniel Jones and Quentin Harris. Both of these quarterbacks have gotten great reviews from practice both last year and this offseason. Jones in particular has received a lot of praise for his rapid improvement since coming into the program. Both of these quarterbacks may see the field this season in reserve time, but unless things get dire, it will probably be next season before either are seen for any extended period.
Check out our other preseason position previews: