Mitch Trubisky, a UNC junior, has experienced the bells and whistles that come with playing in the Victory Bell game.
Daniel Jones, a Duke redshirt freshman, has not.
Trubisky suited up behind Marquise Williams in the quarterback’s 494-yard, four-touchdown victory over Duke in 2015, while Jones didn’t see any action in the 66-31 loss.
Now starters, quarterbacks Jones and Trubisky will go head-to-head Thursday in Durham.
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“I think they’re two terrific young quarterbacks,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Monday. “They both are performing at an extremely high level. They’re both a little different. They’re in similar offenses where the quarterback is asked to do a lot.”
Trubisky has led North Carolina (7-2, 5-1 ACC) to a first-place tie in the Coastal Division, including a last-second win over Pitt on Sept. 24. He threw for five touchdowns and a career-high 453 yards that day, one of his three 400-yard games on the season.
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By the numbers, Trubisky, 6 feet 3, 220 pounds, is ranked among ACC top quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky is 11th nationally in pass efficiency (160.6) and fifth nationally in pass completion percentage (.703) with just two interceptions.
“If you like football, tune in. If you like football and quarterback play, tune in, because you’re going to see two really good quarterbacks play,” Cutcliffe said. “(Mitch Trubisky is) just poised, knowledgeable, accurate, really accurate throwing the football, quick. He’s strong. He keeps his eyes down field. He manages every aspect of their game. There’s not a throw he can’t make.”
But the 6-5, 210-pound Jones has held his own for Duke (3-6, 0-5).
He’s already established Duke single-season rookie records for total offensive yards (2,412), touchdowns (16) and pass completions. Jones is one of just two Duke freshman quarterbacks to have three 300-yard games.
Jones will have to rely on the tight end unit with the running back corps banged up. Shaun Wilson and Joseph Ajeigbe took hard hits in Duke’s 24-21 loss to Virginia Tech Saturday. Cutcliffe said there is no update on them right now, as they’ll need another whole day in training room.
Duke’s leading rusher, Jela Duncan, ruptured his Achilles tendon on Oct. 29.
Jones can help himself, too. He rushed for a career-high 99 yards against Virginia Tech. He ran in two touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter with 7:10 left to bring the Blue Devils within a field goal.
“Daniel’s going to do what he does,” tight end Erich Schneider said. “He can throw the ball. He’s done a great job improving himself.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan