Thomas Sirk: I think the main thing for me is that I understand what's going on so much better than I did this time last year. I am more comfortable with the speed of the game, the number of reps, and everything else you see as a quarterback. It's definitely been a learning process, but watching Boone step into his new role has inspired me to keep working, and I'm enjoying the process.
Speaking of processes, you didn't become a full time quarterback until late in your high school career, what's the learning curve been like since arriving at Duke?
It's a big change for sure. In high school you work with your coach, but there isn't' the same level of film study or preparation. You can just kind of play the game and do your own thing. At Duke, football has become almost like a fifth class for me because I'm studying every single day. When I'm not studying, I'm in the weight room, or I'm having positional or one on one meetings with my coaches.
This year you go from running the scout team to being the primary backup. How do you stay prepared to step in for Anthony Boone at the drop of a hat?
Well, the first thing is to make sure I'm on top of what's going on. Whenever I'm not in, I'm watching what he's doing. Both right, and wrong. I need to know what the defense is doing, and I need to be able to pick up the blitzes as they come. Boone has been great with that, and even though we're competing for the same job, we're both working to the same goal of making each other better so that we can lead the team.
Let's say you're called upon to go in like he was last year against Virginia. What's the most important thing for you to do in order to get the full confidence of your team?
It starts with being prepared off the field. I'm lucky in that I've seen great leaders since I've been here with the coaches and Sean Renfree last year. This off-season, Boone and I made sure we were at the front of every workout line. We want the guys to see us working hard, and not taking any time off. We want to lead on a daily basis, so that when we are asked to perform, we're ready and everyone knows we've put in the time.
Coach Cutcliffe has talked about new wrinkles in the offense, and some players have moved around or taken on new roles. What can you tell us about those moves?
We're going to be a little more balanced with the running game, and we're going to be able to run the ball really well I think. However, we're still a dynamic passing team that will take shots. We have a lot of speedy receivers, but this year we have a lot of bigger guys as well with Max McCaffrey, Erich Schneider, and Issac Blakeney as well. We will have the ability to put a lot of pressure on defenses in a lot of ways.
How have the coaches addressed the success from last season, and how it will translate this year?
They were really happy for us, but they also have made sure to tell us that it wasn't the goal. It was just the beginning. We were one game away from an ACC Championship game appearance last year. That was the story we focused on. We went 6-7, but didn't get a winning record. We didn't win our bowl game, even though we had a chance to. We're carrying that as motivation. We want to make the championship game. We want to be able to win it. We want to be able to compete with all teams in our conference as well. The coaches are making sure we know all of that.
What are your summer plans?
I'll be here all summer, taking a couple of classes and getting ready for the fall. We'll workout with the coaches, and we'll workout on our own as well. We will all get together as we have since January and really work as groups to be in shape, and to be ready to go once practice begins. It'll be a six day a week work schedule for us.