Duke's Boone primed for season's second half
Anthony Boone emerged healthy from his return to Duke’s quarterback position on Saturday and he’s set to be under center as the Blue Devils close in on bowl eligibility once again.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Sunday that Boone, who led Duke to a 35-7 win over Navy in his first game since fracturing his collarbone on Sept. 7, was feeling nothing more than the normal day-after soreness.
“Anthony feels good,” Cutcliffe said. “He is sore like he should be after playing a game.”
Boone completed 31 of 38 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns as the Blue Devils (4-2) won their second consecutive game.
The medical news was not as good for Brandon Connette, the redshirt junior who started three games in place of Boone. The ankle injury suffered last Thursday continues to keep Connette sidelined.
Connette was not able to practice Sunday night and his availability for the rest of the week, and Duke’s ACC game at Virginia on Saturday (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net South), is in question.
“We’ll see what he looks like Tuesday,” Cutcliffe said. “He’s been getting treatment from midday on (Sunday).”
Boone, once healthy again, was going to take over the starting quarterback job again. But the versatile Connette’s role in the offense would have remained robust. He does, after all, have 23 career rushing touchdowns thanks to his wild-card duties at running back, tight end and wide receiver in addition to short-yardage quarterback.
With Connette not able to back up Boone, freshman Parker Boehme remains Duke’s No. 2 quarterback just as he was behind Connette while Boone healed.
So far, Duke has not had to turn to Boehme and his opportunity to redshirt remains in place.
As for the Navy game as a whole, Cutcliffe’s film review showed a positive all-around effort by his Blue Devils.
“I really was pleased with all three phases,” Cutcliffe said.
Duke’s defense, which had been allowing 28 points per game this season, responded with a stout effort. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds struggled to move the ball in the Midshipmen’s triple-option attack and Duke held a Football Bowl Subdivision foe to one touchdown for the first time since 2008.
Navy had only 73 yards and five first downs in the second half.
“Defensively, I thought we did a great job,” Cutcliffe said. “Our defensive staff did a great job mixing things up. We made Keenan Reynolds almost completely ineffective throughout the game. We really got better as the game went on.”
The job for Duke now is to carry that solid play over to its final six games, which are all against ACC foes. After going 6-7 last season, the Blue Devils seek to meet or top that win total and return to a bowl game.
Sweeping their four nonconference games this season, for the first time since 1994, was a good start, Cutcliffe said.
“What all this means is really nothing unless we build on it,” Cutcliffe said. “We have a great opportunity to build in the right direction.”
Duke’s next two games will be on the road as the Blue Devils finish the year playing four of six games away from Wallace Wade Stadium. After playing Virginia (2-4, 0-2 in ACC), Duke heads to No. 19 Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0) on Oct. 26.
Following an open weekend, Duke plays N.C. State (3-3, 0-3) on Nov. 9 and No. 10 Miami (5-0, 1-0) on Nov. 16 at home before closing the regular season at Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2) on Nov. 23 and at North Carolina (1-4, 0-2) on Nov. 30.
Wallace out --Cutcliffe announced that reserve defensive tackle Jamal Wallace will need surgery to repair an ankle injury he suffered in Saturday's game. Wallace, a redshirt junior, will not return this season.