Boone closer to return, plus other Tuesday notes
Duke football notes from David Cutcliffe’s Tuesday press conference
Boone now ‘day-to-day’ on return – Anthony Boone is getting closer to returning from the broken right collarbone he suffered on Sept. 7 at Memphis.
“Anthony is better,” Cutcliffe said. “He is getting some work. We are still on a hold as far as any full speed work. That hold continues. We are letting him practice. I think he’s gotten progressively better each week and, at this point now, a little every day. So I would talk in terms of day-to-day in terms of Anthony Boone.”
Boone has missed Duke’s last three games with the team going 1-2 without him. Brandon Connette took over for the second half of the Memphis game, throwing two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to key a 28-14 win.
Initially in a tight brace that helped immobilize his right shoulder and throwing arm, Boone has been throwing the football for the last two weeks. But he has yet to be cleared to take contact, which means Connette continues to get first-team repetitions in practice.
Still, with his return characterized as day-to-day for the first time since his injury, a return for Saturday’s game with Navy isn’t out of the question.
Setback for Sirk – Another injured Duke quarterback, redshirt freshman Thomas Sirk had what Cutcliffe agreed was a setback in his recovery from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.
Sirk suffered the injury last April and had surgery to repair it. He has been making steady progress toward being available to Duke ever since.
But Cutcliffe said Sirk strained his calf and is backing off some of his work.
“Just an overwork injury in his upper calf,” Cutcliffe said. “I don’t want to mess with Thomas Sirk. He’s too athletic. We’re going to back off. From the beginning I’ve commented to our medical people that they guy can fly and when he’s healed I want him to be able to fly.”
Defense focusing on turnovers – On the way to a Belk Bowl appearance, Duke benefited from 23 turnovers by its opponents last season.
That was the most turnovers Duke’s defense had forced since 2008, Cutcliffe’s first season at the school.
This season, though Duke is off to a respectable 3-2 start, the defense is behind that pace. So far, teams have committed six turnovers in Duke’s five games.
Last week, with Duke having a week without a game, the turnover situation was a point of emphasis in practices.
“It’s at the forefront of our mind,” Cutcliffe said.
That continued on Tuesday with good results.
“I thought our coaches did a good job during the bye week emphasizing creating turnovers,” Cutcliffe said. “We also had a great day today. That was one thing that was very evident on the field was our defense was about to create a couple or three turnovers today by getting the ball loose.”
Norman ready to return – Starting safety Dwayne Norman missed Duke’s 38-31 win over Troy on Sept. 28 with a leg injury that he suffered one week earlier in a loss to Pittsburgh.
But the bye week allowed Norman healing time and he’s set to return against Navy.
“Dwayne Norman looks like he’s ready to go,” Cutcliffe said.
His return comes at a good time. Duke will be without freshman Deondre Singleton, who is serving a one-game suspension for missing two academic obligations last week. Singleton started against Troy.
Edwards’ increased role – Due to another off-field, non-football situation with a freshman, redshirt freshman DeVon Edwards is seeing his role increase for the Blue Devils.
Duke’s top kick returner, Johnell Barnes, has a broken hand and is considered out indefinitely. Edwards who has returned one kick this season is working as the Blue Devils’ main kick returner with sophomore running back Shaquille Powell the secondary kick returner.
Barnes has averaged 20.4 yards per return. But Cutcliffe said Edwards is a threat as well.
“He is a dynamic runner with the football,” Cutcliffe said. “He is very good with the football. He is explosive, he’s fast and he’s quick.”