DURHAM, North Carolina — This was anything but a spring football game at Duke.
The Blue Devils opened up one of their last offseason workouts Saturday and held a still-winter scrimmage.
Duke has routinely wrapped up spring practice before many other schools even start while trying to maintain momentum from the previous season. This practice came roughly two months after the Blue Devils' loss to Arizona State in the Sun Bowl.
Things were even more different this year because an extensive renovation project left Wallace Wade Stadium unavailable.
Duke veered from the traditional game format and instead held a 2-hour practice inside the team's indoor practice facility that included a 25-minute controlled, situational scrimmage.
Presumptive starting quarterback Thomas Sirk says the Blue Devils are "fresh coming off the bowl game.
"I like it getting out of the way early before spring break," Sirk said. "We can look back and watch other people practice now. ... We're further into the install now than we usually would be in the spring because of that. I think that is a great advantage for our team."
Duke still has another week of end-of-winter practice remaining before the players shift into offseason conditioning mode.
The methods appear to be working: In the past three years, the Blue Devils have reached three bowls and won the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division title in 2013.
"It's been incredible, the journey has," coach David Cutcliffe said, "and we're far from being where we're going to be."
The biggest hole on Duke's depth chart is at quarterback, where Sirk figures to be the heir apparent to Anthony Boone — who led the Blue Devils to top-25 rankings and bowl berths in each of his two seasons as the starter.
Sirk, a redshirt junior, appears to have the edge over redshirt sophomore Parker Boehme because he routinely spelled Boone last year in short-yardage situations. Sirk rushed for eight touchdowns and 238 yards on 47 carries, and was 10 of 14 for 67 yards and three scores through the air. Boehme carried three times for 14 yards.
But Cutcliffe said he isn't sure that Sirk has separated himself from Boehme or promising redshirt freshman Nico Pierre.
"I'm very pleased with Thomas, and I'm very pleased with Parker," Cutcliffe said. "I think what we've seen at this point is that we've got a 1 and a 2 that are really executing at a high level, both of them."
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