Duke football coach David Cutcliffe is as anxious as anyone to see this weekend’s “Spring Showcase” – the capstone of the Blue Devils’ spring practices.
Saturday’s series of drills and a full contact scrimmage – held in lieu of a traditional spring game as Wallace Wade Stadium undergoes renovations – will be the last chance Cutcliffe gets to study potential starting quarterbacka under game-like conditions before preseason practices in August.
Speaking Wednesday to members of the Durham Sports Club, Cutcliffe expressed doubts that 2015 starter Thomas Sirk would be available for Duke’s opening game Sept. 3 against N.C. Central, he said.
Sirk, a rising redshirt senior quarterback, suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon Feb. 9 during an off-season team conditioning session and almost immediately underwent surgery to repair the damage. Sirk missed Duke’s 2013 season after suffering a ruptured right Achilles tendon in April of that year.
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“I don’t know if he’s going to be ready,” Cutcliffe said.
Cutcliffe noted Sirk was one of only five quarterbacks in FCS football last year to run for more than 800 yards and pass for more than 2,600. He led Duke in both categories last year as the Blue Devils finished 8-5 and defeated Indiana, 44-41 in overtime, in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Three other quarterbacks have been getting most of time behind center during Duke’s spring drills: redshirt junior Parker Boehme and two redshirt freshmen – Daniel Jones and Quentin Harris. Each has rotated taking 20 snaps with the first string offense throughout the spring, Cutcliffe said.
“We had a really good spring comparing them – 20 snaps at a time,” he said.
Cutcliffe said Duke football has been through “the biggest January-February-March-April I can remember in the eight years I’ve been here.”
Off-season changes included several staff changes in February. Jim Collins went from assistant defensive coordinator to Director of Football Relations and Special Assistant to the Head Coach. Former Boston College assistant coach Ben Albert was hired as Duke’s Associate Defensive Coordinator and defensive line coach. Marcus Johnson, a former strength and conditioning assistant coach, took over as offensive line coach.
Asked by sports club members if former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning might join the staff, Cutcliffe said he advised his former protégé Manning to take off a year from football “to figure out how not to be a professional quarterback.”
Cutcliffe said he wouldn’t consider all of the recent changes settled under Wallace Wade was ready to seat fans for the season-opener. He said he has the same thought every time he walks through Wallace Wade: “Please be ready. ... They assure me it will be ready.”
With Wallace Wade Stadium still undergoing renovations to Blue Devil Towers and the encircling concourse, Saturday’s showcase will not be open to the public. It will be telecast on ESPN3 beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Closed to the public
With Wallace Wade Stadium still undergoing renovations to Blue Devil Towers and the encircling concourse, Duke’s “Spring Showcase”will not be open to the public.
It will be telecast on ESPN3 beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.