Before everyone gets their usual chuckle out of running the term “Duke Football” through their heads, I like to remind everyone where this team sat around the middle of 2012. Potential ACC Championship and Orange Bowl bid–that’s where they were.
Saturday, head coach David Cutcliffe and his Duke Blue Devils took to the field for their annual spring contest to gauge their chances of building off their successful 2012 campaign. Well, what was available of the squad that is.
With a total of seven significant contributors on defense and a few others from the offensive side of the ball absent, this wasn’t exactly the best circumstance for Cutcliffe and his coaching staff to see where they stand at the moment.
Yet, the game of football goes on, and so did the spring game in Durham, NC.
Despite battling through the absences, one player we did get to receive a glimpse of was new Blue Devils QB Anthony Boone.
Seen as giving Duke a better chance to make plays with his legs than former starter Sean Renfree did, Boone instead made his impact felt through the air. Tossing for 273 yards on 18-for-30 passing with two touchdowns, the new Blue Devils signal-caller seemed to be, at this point at least, what everyone expected him to be as the General of this offense.
We also got a sneak peek at his favorite target, when it is time to air it out.
With the loss of the most productive receiver in school history, Conner Vernon, Jamison Crowder showed that he is more than willing to step up and fill the void as best he can.
Crowder hauled in both of Boone’s scoring throws–covering 22 and 4 yards. Crowder finished the afternoon with a total of four catches for 71 yards. As the chemistry between the two builds throughout summer, this could end up being a tandem to be worried about by mid-season.
And, as said before, getting a solid grasp of the defensive potential was impossible due to the number of absences.
The lone bright spot was defensive end Britton Grier who recorded two sacks and seven tackles–three being for a loss.
It is intriguing, especially given the success of last year, wondering where the Duke program under Cutcliffe is headed. Unfortunately though, Saturday just had no chance from the beginning to give us a clear-cut indication.