How does your mindset change going from the back up to starting role?
Thomas Sirk: I keep a positive outlook each day, and view each day as an opportunity to get better and for our team to get better. I feel like we’re having a really good camp and the level of competition here is making me better and it’s making our team better each day. Our goal is to leave the Spring playing the best football we can.
You mentioned the competition. Is that referencing the quarterback position or the entire team?
Both. There’s a lot of competition all over the field. The guys in the secondary are making me really compete and work hard for sure. At quarterback, we are all pushing each other each day. Both Parker and Nico are great players and we’re competing each day. It’s really good for our team.
Going back to your new role as the starter, how does your approach change when you walk into the huddle?
I think showing leadership is really important, and I think you have to show character - both in how you play and how you work with everyone. If you do that, guys will respect you more when you get into the huddle. So far I’ve been working to push guys out there - the wide receivers, the running backs, and the offensive line. We’ve got a lot of veterans there and a lot of leadership comes from those positions. Guys like Shaq Powell and Max McCaffrey are going into their senior seasons, so they know what to do. My job is to continue to push everyone, and they make it easier with their experience.
We’ve seen you move the pile. We’ve seen the jump pass. What haven’t we seen from Thomas Sirk yet?
I don’t think you’ve seen my ability to throw yet. I’ve been asked a lot of questions about what kind of passer I am, and I think I have the ability to make a lot of the throws we need. We’re going to spread it out this year, but we’ve also got a lot of balance and we can use our running game to move up and down the field.
You guys lost Jamison Crowder in the passing game. So who are the receivers we don’t know about who could help step up?
It’s hard to pick out one guy, because all of the receivers have done a really phenomenal job. The guys I’m working with the most right now are Johnell Barnes, Anthony Nash, and Chris Taylor. Those guys are all making big time plays. Also, Ryan Smith is showing the ability to make plays as well. Each of those guys can really use their legs to make things happen.
You’re taking over at a pretty interesting time for Duke Football with all the renovations. Is the team excited about the changes?
Definitely. We want to carry on the tradition of Duke Football this year. There are a lot of great changes happening with the new stadium. Coach Cutcliffe has raised the standard at Duke, and we want to continue to meet them. The new stadium is brining a lot of excitement and we can’t wait to play in the new Wallace Wade.
Speaking of standards…Duke used to consider a handful of wins a success. Then it went from being near .500 to making a bowl game to competing for berths in the ACC Championship game and playing in big time bowls. What does it take to get to the point of winning those bowl games?
It’s really a lot of hard work. After we finish with Spring Practice, we have to continue to work every day this summer to make sure we can compete at the highest levels. It means the older guys have to show leadership and push the younger guys. That means all three areas of the field - offense, defense, and special teams have to be on board, and we have that. If we can do that and withstand it for the entire season, we have a team that’s going to be really hard to play against. The main thing is that we can’t forget where we, as a program, have come from.
Finally, I know the media scripted answer is that every game is important, but when you look at the schedule is there a particular game or stretch of games you look to that could define the season?
Well, like you said, every game is important, and I think every ACC game is especially important for us. Also, the first game of the season is really big for us because it’s on the road on a Thursday night on ESPN. That’s what we’re working towards now. We’re excited to show what Duke Football can do on that stage.
Spring Practice Conversation: QB Thomas Sirk
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