David Cutcliffe began his weekly teleconference by addressing the elephant in the room; the health of quarterback Anthony Boone.
Boone, who fractured his right clavicle (collarbone) on a short yardage third down play late in the second quarter, will be out indefinitely, but according to Cutcliffe he will not require surgery.
“At this point he is non-surgical. What that means at this point I can’t tell you. It’s not one that requires immediate surgery. No time table involved. At this point Anthony is going to be listed as out indefinitely,” Cutcliffe said.
The injury will force Brandon Connette, who came in and led Duke to a 28-14 victory throwing for 198 yards and two touchdowns, in relief of Boone. He also ran for 31 yards.
“It was an A plus,” Cutcliffe said of Connette’s performance. “There was no operation issues. He threw the ball well, he threw the ball accurately. It is a great tribute to (offensive coordinator) Kurt Roper in their preparation.”
Cutcliffe made it clear that Connette will be the starter for the foreseeable future.
“Not playing any games with anybody, Brandon Connette is our starter and Parker Boehme a true freshman out of Jacksonville, Florida will be our backup quarterback going in. From there we would make some other decisions,” Cutcliffe said.
Those other decisions will likely have to involve walk-on quarterback Robert Collins who took snaps late in the Blue Devils’ season opening victory over NC Central. Aside from the Boone injury, Cutcliffe was pleased with his team’s victory under some tough circumstances.
“I was real proud of our team, our staff for playing 60 minutes very hard for in difficult circumstances. The field was probably 115 to 120 degrees for most of the ball game. It was probably 200 degrees in our locker room. Very humid so a lot of people pushed themselves. Pleased with our conditioning.”
“We had to overcome so much adversity and most of that adversity was us,” Cutcliffe said. “Defensively we did play excellent but we can play better.”
He did feel that the offense didn’t nearly play to the level that they were capable of and indicated that the mistakes, (3 turnovers) are something that can’t happen especially at the times they happened against Memphis.
“Offensively I thought we just didn’t execute at critical times. We made some serious errors at critical times. We moved the football, we never got whipped,” Cutcliffe said. “We just didn’t execute like we can. We have to challenge our players in that part.”
The injury to Boone leaves a lot of questions about how the Blue Devils offense will change, if at all, and if Boehme, who the staff was hoping to redshirt this year, may have to burn that redshirt just to get some snaps in the game to prepare for he possibility of playing. Cutcliffe said there is still a lot left to decided but he has confidence in Connette.
“We’ll have a plan that fits Brandon’s needs but we’re not going to change who we are,” he said. “How could you not have confidence in a person like Brandon Connette and Parker Boehme is that same kind of guy. These guys believe in those two young men. We’ll miss Anthony no if and or buts about it. But I have great confidence in Brandon and I do in Parker and I think their teammates would all echo that sentiment.”
Moving forward Duke must get ready for Georgia Tech and their vaunted triple option that has given Duke fits over the years. This year though, the Duke defense has been one of the strengths, especially up front but the Georgia Tech offense, as it always does, will challenge that defensive front.
“These guys I think as a group are the best we’ve had. As a group we can play a lot of them,” Cutcliffe said. “Sydney Sarmiento and Jamal Bruce inside are playing their best football. (Justin) Foxx and (Kenny) Anunike are making plays. And their backups are making plays. I hope we get more. We need all good hands on deck.”
Cutcliffe indicated they hope to get defensive end Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo back soon but didn’t indicated if he’d be back for the Georgia Tech game. He also said there were no other significant injuries and that no other players should miss the game with the Yellow Jackets.