First thing is a question for Bob Harris: Are you nervous? Here we go starting. This is the first one of the last one. Does it make you a little nervous? Well, we want to wish you well as you start this journey. I know it will be more of an emotional journey at the end. We certainly appreciate you.
“And talking about appreciation, before I get into anything else, I’m overwhelmed every single day I come in here. I go back 18 months and 24 months to right now. You look around the Duke Athletics campus today, and you must be filled with gratitude and joy over what’s occurred during this time that has impacted every student-athlete, every one of us coaches, and so many people involved in this entire process. Administratively, of course, the contractors themselves and the sub-contractors I watch work. I’ve seen lakes of water from rain and I’ve seen the baking sun, and there’s just an enormous amount of things that have happened.
“I hope all of you, as you get in that tower, as you just kind of walk around here, you really appreciate how many people were involved in this. And as in all athletics, the benefactors are our student-athletes. It really now has hit every single one of them. It has been a fun process from practice fields, to track, to the Kennedy Tower to what we’re looking at out here. I also would publically say how appreciative I am to Dr. Dick Brodhead and Dr. Kevin White in their leadership to bring this to fruition, and, I might say, unselfish leadership.
“I’m very appreciative of our team and the work it has put in this summer and spring to prepare. They were ready to start practice in August. They did a great job of selecting captains. I haven’t publically talked about that, but Thomas Sirk, DeVon Edwards, A.J. Wolf and Jela Duncan were great choices. Each week, I am going to get with the staff and maybe a player or two and elect a special teams captain of the week. Since Thomas (Sirk) can’t walk out with the captains and we can have four, this person will go out for the coin toss. This week’s special teams captain of the week is Thomas Hennessy, who is starting his fourth year as a deep snapper for us. He has been a very committed young man, and done a great job kind of raising two young specialists throughout the spring and summer.
“With that said, we have a lot of questions that need to be answered. There are going to be some new faces and some familiar faces. We have some people who can run, and now is the time to kind of quit talking about it and go execute. We’ve got to be a physical team, not only this weekend, but we have to develop that mentality if we’re going to win with this team the rest of the way through. I’m excited for Daniel Jones, although we’re all heartbroken for Thomas. Thomas Sirk, as I’ve said all along, is an inspiration to many of us, and certainly me. I’ve learned a lot from him in his short time here, I can tell you that. But Daniel has a great opportunity in front of him. I hope and think he will take advantage of that. Defense, offense and kicking, we have a lot to learn about our team. But it’s time to play games and see how well we can play. Here we go with year nine.”
What made Daniel Jones the choice over Parker Boehme?
“There reaches a time in just productivity, which goes into everything you’re doing. Accuracy, game management, all of the different abilities a quarterback has to take into a game to be successful, Daniel continued to inch ahead. Parker is doing really well, and he is doing what you would expect, really in the last three or four practices, even more so. He’s pushing back. We have a really good football player and a great person in Parker. And Quentin Harris is pushing. He brings a lot to the table. I wish we had more quarterbacks. We don’t have a walk-on quarterback. We have three quarterbacks in the program. We have Kane Banner who is a non-scholarship player who is an incredibly good athlete, great person and he can play wide receiver or quarterback. We’re trying to give him some work there. And we also, as you know, have Nicodem Pierre, but right now we want Nico to focus on running back. We have Scott Bracey who has played quarterback, but he’s not well. So we’ve got all of that in the back of our mind. But it’s a job that Daniel has won right now. I expect him to play well, if he plays like he practices”
How long will the leash be on Daniel?
“I don’t ever put a leash on a starting quarterback, because they earned it over a period of time. So he’s going to go play, and he will have the opportunity to play. We have not sat down and decided reps, and not just quarterbacks. We’re working on how many No. 2s we’re going to play and how early.
“When you get in these early ballgames, in an ideal world, I would play our two offenses and two defenses as a unit. I think it’s important to play well in the fourth quarter. I don’t think it, I know it’s important. We’ll look at today’s practice, tomorrow morning’s practice before we evaluate a substitution pattern”
A lot of people characterize this season as a rebuilding season for Duke. Is that dismissive of what you’ve accomplished here? Are you comfortable with that narrative??
“I’m comfortable with that narrative probably every year. We are a developmental program. We hope we’re not rebuilding, we hope we’re building. I want to see us build every year.
“I want to see the number of quality players increase. I want to see young players step in the lineup. That’s kind of a normal process, so I don't view that as a negative. But we right now believe we are a team that can compete for championships if we play well. I wouldn’t say rebuilding from the standpoint that we’re stepping away from any expectations we have for ourselves.”