With Jones out, Duke turns to Harris at QB
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke has to replace perhaps its most irreplaceable player.
Quarterback Daniel Jones, who took virtually every meaningful snap for the Blue Devils (2-0) over the past two-plus seasons, is out indefinitely with a broken collar bone.
So now, starting with Saturday’s visit to Baylor (2-0), they must figure out a way to win with backup Quentin Harris.
“We just have to plug him in,” receiver Johnathan Lloyd said Tuesday, “and we’re going to play.”
Jones, the team’s third-year starter, broke his left clavicle while taking a blindside hit in the second half of last week’s 21-7 victory at Northwestern after throwing three touchdown passes.
“It’s only deflating because we hurt for Daniel, but it’s not a lack of confidence in Quentin — we don’t feel we’re going to have a drop-off,” Lloyd said. “We’re going to continue to do the same things we’ve been doing. Quentin has to play a different role. He’s the guy.”
Harris came in and completed both of his passes for 12 yards while also carrying five times for 14 yards. Coach David Cutcliffe said Harris had “no cadence issues, no read issues” against the Wildcats.
“Quentin Harris knows his offense,” Cutcliffe said.
Now is his chance to show it, during the most extended playing time of Harris’ career.
He’s filled the role of short-yardage specialist for the past year for the Blue Devils, occasionally spelling Jones near the goal line. During his 13-game career, he’s thrown 15 passes with a touchdown while carrying the ball 39 times with a pair of scoring runs.
Count Baylor coach Matt Rhule among those concerned about Harris.
While the 6-foot-5 Jones is an accomplished passer with the ability to tuck it and run, the shorter, quicker Harris is more of a threat to break a big play on the ground — especially against the Bears, who have been solid defensively in two games against subpar competition after ranking 112th nationally in total defense a year ago.
“It introduces a whole other element to us now,” Rhule said. “Daniel could run, they ran him a ton in the red zone last year, ran him against us last year — but we’re going to have to handle the quarterback run game. When you have a quarterback who will run it, you gain a defender.
“It becomes 11-on-11 for the first time. It will be a challenge and it introduces a whole other set of variables that we probably hadn’t planned on working on this week.”
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Waco, Texas, contributed to this report.
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