No surgery for Duke's Boone
The bad news is Duke football will play without injured starting quarterback Anthony Boone for an indefinite period of time.
The good news is Boone doesn’t need surgery to repair his broken right collarbone.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Boone had further tests on the injury at Duke on Sunday and medical staff determined that surgery wasn’t necessary.
That said, no timetable has been established for Boone’s return.
“Part of it is now well he heals,” Cutcliffe said. “Part of it is how compliant Anthony is. You can’t have movement. It’s difficult to have right arm locked up all the time. It’s hard to study. It’s hard to sleep. So you don’t really know.”
Boone suffered the injury in the second quarter of Saturday’s 28-14 win at Memphis that allowed the Blue Devils to start a season 2-0 for the first time since 1998.
Boone was hurt on a running play where he was tripped up and landed on his chest. A Memphis defender, already moving toward Boone when the quarterback was tripped, landed on Boone and caused the injury. But Cutcliffe isn’t of the opinion that the tackle was dirty.
“You maybe could call it late, but I wouldn’t,” Cutcliffe said. “Not really.”
Not available for interviews, Boone sent a message of hope through his Twitter feed on Sunday.
“I appreciate everybody's concern and support!” Boone said. “God has a plan for us all!”
With Boone, a redshirt junior, out for what is reasonably expected to be several games, redshirt junior Brandon Connette takes over the Blue Devils offense at quarterback.
Connette replaced Boone and threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes at Memphis on Saturday. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 198 yards.
Cutcliffe said Connette gave an “A-plus” performance on Saturday leading Duke to the win.
“He goes out there and there were no operational issues,” Cutcliffe said. “No signal issues. He threw the ball well, threw it accurately. Good exchanges with the backs. It was a great tribute to Kurt Roper and their preparation. I thought Brandon was A-plus.”
As Duke gets ready to play its ACC opener against Georgia Tech (1-0) at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPNU), the coaching staff has to make another quarterback decision. Connette will be starting, of course. But the No. 2 slot on the depth chart is now filled by freshman Parker Boehme.
While Boehme enrolled in January, he missed the majority of spring practice while recovering from a toe injury that required surgery last December. The staff has already been preparing Boehme to play if needed. But the hope was he could redshirt like most freshman quarterbacks have at Duke under Cutcliffe.
“He’s getting all of a team period (work) at a rapid pace,” Cutcliffe said. “He has more reps than most 3s would get anywhere. He is a very tough competitor. He’s a good athlete.”
As of Sunday, no decision had been made about any potential changes to the offense with Connette under center rather than Boone.
“We haven’t finished all those conversations,” Cutcliffe said. :There are things you can do to protect him. But I’ve always had a philosophy, and it’s worked in my life, to live in your hopes and not your fears. I don’t like living in my fears and I don’t want players to play that way.”
Still, Connette and Boone do bring different talents to the game that the staff will take into consideration.
“We’ll have a plan that fits Brandon’s needs but we are not going to change who we are,” Cutcliffe said. “You are going to run your offense. We will try to emphasize what Brandon is best and what he’s most comfortable at.”