DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Spring has always been the season of renewed hope, new possibilities and a fresh perspective. Duke football hit the field the embodiment of all those qualities plus one more.
“The first word I’m going to give you is hungry, maybe emaciated,” said Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe. “(The work) starts back in January which this team got a great kick start that will continue in our process this is not something that you decide suddenly you’re going to be better.”
Rising red-shirt junior Gunnar Holmberg, the most experienced quarterback on the team and odds on favorite to start in the fall, has separated himself from the others signal callers in camp. During the spring showcase last Saturday he was 5-9 for 107 yards and connected on a spectacular 80 yard scoring strike with junior wide receiver Jalon Calhoun.
“What I’ve liked about Gunnars performance is that he has not sat on his time,” said coach Cutcliffe. “He is further ahead mentally. He has studied the game. He has taken advantage of this opportunity he’s throwing it well he ‘s doing those tnings but the command of what we’re doing is much better and so he is much further ahead.”
Coach says red-shirt freshman Luca Diamont and freshman Jordan Moore are the next two in line. Both have some more seasoning when it comes to learning the Duke offensive system.
There is one attribute all three signal-callers possess that will make for some interesting play calls whenever any of these signal-callers get on the field.
“All three of them can really run and that is why I want the creativity there of the staff,” said coach Cutcliffe. “There is a lot of things we can do with them, they can throw it but they are definitely going to be dual threat guys and it gives us an opportunity to get them ready may be a little differently than I have some other quarterbacks in my past.”
The guys they will be throwing to have used the off-season to their advantage. The extra time in the weight room is paying off and the change of coach Re’quan Boyette from overseeing the running backs to now handling the wide receivers is paying dividends.
“We are big that receiver we are physical at receiver we are physical a tight end and athletic at tight end and we are loving that and trying to take advantage of it,” said coach Cutcliffe. “”We got speed but I love their physicality and I think coach (Re’quan) Boyette yet is bringing a physical mentality to coaching those receivers. I’ve been really impressed with the work he’s doing.”
The Blue Devils are thin in numbers when it comes to practices. COVID issues and quarantine along with players recovering from post-season surgeries have forced coaches to get creative in drills but it’s not all bad. The cross-training of sorts has helped younger players tremendously and increased reps.
“Different combinations on the offensive line have grown us. Quarterbacks throwing to different sets of receivers. A lot of good skill work has been done by this large variation that occurs,” said coach Cutcliffe. “I think maybe the biggest benefit is people playing center, guard, and tackle. People playing the left side, right side it is going to help us in the long run and I think we are better just at that task of blocking and protecting.”
The team will wrap practice up next week using the enthusiasm generated as a springboard hopefully to a better fall than last year’s offering.
“There is an old farmer’s tale that says you better plant well in the spring or beg well-come fall,” said coach Cutcliffe. “I think this team has had and understood that approach.”