Often a team is defined by its quarterback. For instance, the Connecticut Huskies—the team which beat Duke last week—have Dan Orlovsky, an All-American quarterback who controls the team’s offense.
The Blue Devils, however, are still without that go-to quarterback as they prepare for their third game this Saturday against Virginia Tech. When the team takes the field in Blacksburg, Va., there will either be a No. 7 or No. 9 jersey commanding the Duke offense, and both will see time as the offensive leader.
Against Navy, it was No. 7, sophomore Mike Schneider, who led the Blue Devils downfield to an early 3-0 lead that they later relinquished to the Midshipmen. Last Saturday the offense built a 20-6 lead under the command of No. 9, co-captain Chris Dapolito, but head coach Ted Roof pulled the senior for the final drive.
Roof previously noted that he would not object to the “conventional” offensive strategy of using a single quarterback. To this point, however, one quarterback has not prevailed over the other. At Wednesday’s practice, Roof again stressed that playing field remains level.
“I have been real pleased with both of them,” Roof said. “They have both had a much better week of practice, and I’m excited about what they’ve done so far. I think [for] both of them, this is their best week of practice so far.”
Roof has been keeping track of his offensive duo’s practice performance, analyzing each player’s passing game. The Duke coach has kept a list of passes attempted, to whom they were thrown and whether the pass was complete. Although Roof has been using both players in the same position, he noted that there are differences between Dapolito’s and Schneider’s individual strengths.
“I think if you get into the different types of passer, one’s a little bit better from the pocket, which is Mike, and Dap’s a little bit better on the move,” Roof said.
In the final quarter against UConn, Roof utilized each player’s strength. Dapolito played until the final drive, when Schneider stepped in and threw a 23-yard pass on a last-second fourth-and-17 to set the Blue Devils up for a possible game-winning field goal attempt.
“[Our games are] slightly different,” Dapolito said. “I am going to use my legs a little bit more. He’s going to use his arm a little bit more. It doesn’t take away from our game play in general.”
In preparation for Saturday’s ACC opener, both quarterbacks worked on the fundamentals. Schneider noted that his drills revolved around “time management”—practicing with a 25-second clock. The Blue Devils picked up one delay of game penalty when Schneider was in the game against Connecticut.
In addition to a game plan, Dapolito and Schneider also share the mentality of being ready to play at any time.
“You have to be prepared to play,” Schneider said. “If you don’t know when you are going to go in, you have to prepare like you are going to be the number one guy.”
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