The 2013 season was full of many good things for the Duke Blue Devils, and it all started with an offense that worked efficiently at every level. A big part of the success last season was because of the two-quarterback system featuring Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette. After all, when you have a coach like David Cutcliffe who developed the likes of Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, good things are bound to happen. But the 2014 campaign will have to be done without Connette, who opted to transfer to Fresno State this spring in order to be close to his ill mother. This leaves Boone all alone.
Last season, Boone played very sporadically, almost like a freshman taking his first snaps at the college level. There were some weeks you would think you were watching a Heisman Trophy candidate, but other weeks you wondered what he was doing out on the field. For example, in a two-game stretch against Virginia Tech and North Carolina State, he threw seven interceptions and not a single touchdown. But in another two-game stretch against Wake Forest and North Carolina, he threw for 530 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Like a light switch, Boone’s game could suddenly go from off to on in an instant. And that’s why Connette was so important to last year’s team. Not only did he step in to orchestrate the wildcat offense in the red zone, he acted as a one-man clean-up crew for Boone. In that awful two-game stretch mentioned above, Duke still won 13-10 and 38-20. That’s because Connette stepped in on both occasions — significantly more against North Carolina State, but his role was a vital one.
If Duke wants to continue this streak of success into 2014, Boone has to prove he’s capable of running an offense on his own at quarterback and cleaning up his own messes. In short, he has to become a more consistent player for the Blue Devils. Because of his efficient work on the ground, Boone may actually take on a more wildcat-esque role at times this season — that’s all up to Cutcliffe. His role, though drastically expanding, could also be evolving in a sense. Either way, consistency needs to be the target this season.