The Duke Blue Devils are 2-0 for the first time since 1998 after beating the Memphis Tigers 28-14 despite three turnovers and several costly penalties that stalled drives in the first half. Backup quarterback Brandon Connette came in late in the second quarter after starter Anthony Boone left the game with an apparent shoulder injury.
The Blue Devils’ defense held Memphis to just 89 yards on the ground and 148 yards through the air. They also kept the Tigers from converting on third down, holding them to two third down conversions out of 13 all game.
Jamison Crowder turned out to be an effective crutch for Connette who was able to lead Duke to two fourth quarter touchdowns. Crowder had 11 catches for 140 yards including a 31-yard reception one play before Connette found Issac Blakeney in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown. On the next possession, Crowder had a 43-yard catch that set Duke up on the Memphis 32 yard line. Five plays later Connette found Brandon Braxton for a 12-yard touchdown.
Any injury to Boone will hinder Duke’s offense moving forward. However, Connette showed that he is capable of leading the offense with both his legs and his arm. The only question is, can Connette perform against higher levels of competition? Next week Duke takes on Georgia Tech, the first conference battle for each team. Duke is a better football team with Boone under center but Connette has the talent to prove that theory wrong.
Connette does have an interesting knack for finding the end zone. Last season he rushed for eight touchdowns, matching a career high he set in 2010. Coach David Cutcliffe gave Connette some playing time in the blowout win over North Carolina Central and Connette connected on two touchdown passes on 5-of-8 passing for 55 yards.
Against Memphis, Connette complete 14 passes in 21 attempts and rushed the ball for 31 yards on 14 attempts. Duke will need Connette to continue to progress as a passer if Boone isn’t ready next week. He looks like he is finally showing some consistency throwing the football and he might be asked to pass a lot next week.