Revisiting the Duke Quarterback Battle: Gunnar Holmberg

Most mobile of Duke's quarterback candidates had a turnover against UVA
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It took Duke three weeks to go from a quarterback competition to quarterback controversy. After winning the starting job at the end of fall camp, Chase Brice has struggled in Duke’s 0-3 start.

While David Cutcliffe wouldn’t commit to a change, he said after Saturday’s loss to Virginia that the position would be evaluated along with every other spot on the field.

In the preseason, we took an in depth look at each candidate. Now, with three games in the book, we revisit each of them to see what’s changed and who offers Duke the best chance of turning around its season.

In part one, we looked at the incumbent, Chase Brice.

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That was then: Holmberg was back to 100 percent, according to all accounts, after missing all of last year with a knee injury suffered in preseason. He was three-for-five for 23 yards and a touchdown pass in Duke’s only full scrimmage of the fall, and he was considered a co-QB2 on the Duke depth chart, behind Brice.

This is now: The Duke offensive line has struggled with pass protection in the early going, with Virginia recording five sacks and multiple pressures in the 38-20 win. Holmberg is considered the most mobile of Duke’s quarterback candidates, so it might make sense to have him taking snaps, at least until the line works out its issues. He’ll be able to keep plays alive and make the threat of a quarterback run something that opponents need to take note of while planning.

Holmberg got in for one garbage time series at the end of Saturday’s game and may have cost himself a chance to take the job from Brice. In five snaps, he ran it twice, gaining eight yards, handed off once and was hit and fumbled, giving Virginia the ball at Duke’s 10 and setting up the Cavaliers’ final touchdown.

Can he be the answer? Coaches have said that his passing is up to par, which would be the only concern with having him in the game, since the rest of us haven’t seen him throw the ball in two years. If that’s the case, his combination of passing and running could be Duke’s best chance to spark the offense in the short term.