The Duke Blue Devils entered this season with high hopes of getting to a second straight Bowl game. Much of that hope hinged on Anthony Boone’s right arm. However, a broken collarbone suffered in the Week 2 matchup against Memphis tempered those expectations a bit. Boone’s replacement, Brandon Connette, played well but Duke has gone 1-2 in games Boone has not started.
Boone made his return last weekend in a win over Navy to push Duke’s record to 4-2 on the season and showed no rust or ill effects from his injury. He threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns on 31-of-38 passing, giving Duke’s offense the boost it needed.
Connette had played well enough but was turnover prone, throwing six interceptions in 117 pass attempts. Connette didn’t have an easy job as Duke faced off against Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh in their last two games, two games Duke would lose. He has always been viewed as more of a runner, however, and Duke did put up 55 points against Pitt so coach David Cutcliffe has to be pleased with what he got out of his backup quarterback.
Having Boone back should allow Duke to return to their pass-heavy offense and keep some of the pressure off of their defense. Boone has been making smart decisions game in and game out and has the ability to throw on the run which extends plays and drives.
This season, Boone has completed 78.4 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and one interception on 58-of-74 passing for 570 yards. Connette, meanwhile, threw for 11 touchdowns and 1,022 yards on 75-of-117 passing but threw six interceptions. He did a good job but Duke is a better team right now with Boone at the helm.
With the Virginia Cavaliers next up for Duke they will need Boone to continue to make good decisions as they can’t afford to fall to 0-3 in conference play. This should be a matchup that favors Duke considering Duke beat Virginia 42-17 last year and Boone will be a huge part of that. As long as Boone can stay healthy for the rest of the year and barring any major injuries to key players Duke should be able to lay claim to their second straight Bowl appearance.