The first spring practice for the Duke Blue Devils gave us a look into the quarterback competition, with Anthony Boone getting the first crack at running the first unit.
With Sean Renfree, a three-year starter for the Blue Devils, graduating, Duke enters spring camp with a quarterback competition for the first time since the 2006 season. The 2006 spring camp resulted in the emergence of Thaddeus Lewis, who would go on to quarterback Duke for four years before giving way to Renfree, who never had his status as the heir to the throne in doubt.
Now, Coach Cutcliffe finds himself in a territory he has yet to experience during his tenure at Duke: facing a legitimate competition for the starting spot. At first glance, it seems that Cutcliffe has two main options to choose from: redshirt junior Anthony Boone and redshirt freshman Thomas Sirk.
Boone has the most experience of all the signal callers, with him throwing for 531 yards and five touchdowns last year, which was good enough for a 111.7 QB rating. Sirk, meanwhile, has yet to take a snap in his college career, but the 6’5, 215 lb quarterback likely has the higher upside in Cutcliffe’s high-octane passing-offense.
The first day of spring practice saw Boone working extensively with the first unit and Sirk running the second unit. Obviously, this means Boone is the starting quarterback, right? No, this could mean two seperate things:
- Boone is currently the leading candidate in Cutcliffe’s eye
- Cutcliffe wants to see how each man handles playing with the first unit, and Sirk will see time there tomorrow
I can’t say which one is correct, because A) I’m not Cutcliffe and B) I’ve never seen how Cutcliffe operates during a quarterback competition before. To say Boone has a large upperhand is a bit farfetched, but he certainly has the advantage. He saw extensive action in three games last season and posted the following stats:
- (@ Stanford) 13-21, 147 yards, interception
- (vs Virginia) 18-31, 212 yards, 4 touchdowns, 7 carries, 41 yards
- (@ FSU) 3-15, 37 yards, 4 rushes, 15 yards
The Florida State numbers are hideous, but he performed admirably in his two other starts. For the time being, my guess is that it would likely take a collapse on Boone’s part or an overwhelming performance on Sirk’s part for Boone to lose the job.
But, hey, we have a few months before the season opener. So speculate away, Duke fans. Would you rather see Boone or Sirk under center when the season gets underway.
On a final note, Cutcliffe acknowledged that Brandon Connette, Duke’s option QB, would take on more responsibilities this season:
— Duke Football (@Duke_FB) March 4, 2013
While we can’t be certain what this means, I’m guessing this means he’ll find himself lining up in positions other than quarterback this season. He could see time at running back or in the slot, but Cutcliffe makes it pretty clear: he will be getting the ball in his hands more often this year. Connette threw for 38 yards and 3 touchdowns while rushing for 91 yards and 8 touchdowns this past season, often being utilized near the goal line.