In a four-part series, we look at the candidates for Duke’s starting quarterback job.
Gunnar Holmberg expected to battle for the backup role, and possibly challenge Quentin Harris for the starting job, a year ago. However, in fall camp, he suffered a serious knee injury and spent the year recovering and rehabbing. The redshirt sophomore is now back at 100 percent.
“I’m all good,” he said of his knee. “I feel good out here. I’m real happy to be back.”
Holmberg, who spent all last year rehabbing alone, found himself alone again, when the pandemic shut down spring practice and offseason work.
“There were a lot of Zoom meetings with Coach Cut (David Cutcliffe) and Coach (Zac) Roper. We did a lot of things that resemble games in the most way you possibly can, online. Whether that’s going through progressions or they’d call out plays for us and just going through it. At home, we had to get resourceful. I know lot of guys had high school teammates. I got with my friend (NC State receiver) Thayer Thomas. And when (Duke tight end) Noah Gray was in town, I got with him.
Holmberg was 3-of-5 in the scrimmage for 23 yards.
“For me, getting back in game-type tempo was good,” he said, “not having a script to look at, just going out there and rolling with what was called. I threw a touchdown (for 16 yards to tight end Matt Smith), and that felt good. It’s been awhile.”
Holmberg hasn’t gotten first-team reps—Chris Katrenick started off in that role on the basis of his experience playing last year as Harris’ backup. So he’s making the most of his time.
“Every single throw you have is very important,” Holmberg said. “Every rep you have is very important. You have to have superior focus on every play. You have to know what you’re doing. A lot of time, that’s knowing the back end.”
Holmberg isn’t worried about Katrenick and Brice. He feels like he controls his destiny.
“You can’t hope for those other guys to have a bad day,” he said. “Chris and Chase are both playing very well. They’re all Division One quarterbacks. You can’t sit and hope they have a bad day and you have a better day. You have to bring your best every single day, and they’re doing the same. You just have to continue to make plays and stick to your game.”
Get caught up on the four-part series here:
Part 1: Overview
Part 2: The early leader—Chris Katrenick
Part 4: The big name--Chase Brice