Duke QB Thomas Sirk returns from his torn achilles for the 2017 season, but he will not have the starting job. He will have to take it back from Daniel Jones.
Duke football has a brilliant luxury entering the 2017 season thanks to a pair of experienced quarterbacks. Daniel Jones and Thomas Sirk return for the Blue Devils. Both have started for Duke, but only one can lead the team in 2017. Jones took over for the injured Sirk after he was forced to miss the 2016 season.
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Although Jones led the Blue Devils’ to their first losing season since 2012, he put together a nice season. According to ESPN, he played well enough to keep the job heading into next year. It’s obviously a difficult reality for Sirk, but it doesn’t mean he couldn’t take it back from Jones. Either way it’s a good problem to have.
Rewind back to 2015, when Sirk led the Blue Devils to an 8-5 year and its first bowl win since 1960. Duke won a dramatic Pinstripe Bowl over Indiana 44-41, and it seemed like Sirk had cemented a solid legacy in this once-struggling program. He threw for 2,624 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his first year as a starter. However, it was his team-leading 809 rushing yards and eight touchdowns that separated him from David Cutcliffe’s past signal callers.
The 2016 season looked like Sirk would catapult himself into elite category. If he could win a second bowl, he would be the first quarterback in Duke history to do so. However, the opportunity never came as he tore his ACL in February and re-injured it in late August.
Redshirt freshman Daniel Jones took over and never looked back. He threw for 2,836 yards, 16 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He may not have been as much of runner in comparison to Sirk but, he still put his athleticism on display rushing for 486 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also more efficient through the air completing nearly 63 percent of his passes to Sirk’s 58.8.
Now obviously, Jones owns the job. The reasons behind it are simple. He’s younger, healthy and as a passer, he’s better. At 6-foot-5, 210-pounds, he’s got prototypical size. To be fair to Sirk, he’s 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, so he’s certainly capable, but he’s got an injury history and that’s the difference in the battle.
Sirk has torn both his achilles tendons including the same one twice. It’s the nature of the beast. BYU’s Taysom Hill suffered through a similar career but finished it this past season. The highly touted Tanner Mangum had to sit and wait after starting during the 2015 season. I wouldn’t doubt Sirk’s ability to rehab back. But with his return delayed until the fall, it puts him greatly behind the eight ball (Courtesy of NBC Sports).
With all that said, the Blue Devils have strong depth heading into next season. When you have the quarterback spot solidified, it trickles down to everything else. Few teams have two starting quarterbacks on their team but Duke will.