Duke QB Boone has made smooth transition

Duke running back Josh Snead has been waiting for this moment -- not his moment -- his quarterback’s.

Snead, a native of Smithfield, N.C., and quarterback Anthony Boone, from Monroe, N.C., have known each other since high school. They went to football camps together and are now two key pieces of Duke’s revamped offense.

“He’s my guy,” Snead said. “ … That’s my man. I couldn’t wait ‘til it was his time to shine.”

Snead isn't the only one.

Boone officially earned the starting job and took over Duke’s offense this spring, and those within the program are eager to see how his ability to extend plays and run the ball can help the Blue Devils' offense. His teammates have said there were few if any signs this spring that Boone is a first-year starter. That’s good news for a program that has to replace one of its top passers, as Sean Renfree, who set or matched 30 school records, has since graduated. Boone’s ability to run the ball will bring a different dimension to the offense, but his prior game experience also gave him a jump start this spring.

“Anthony has been in the system for a while,” Snead said. “It’s nothing new. He’s just stepping up where he’s that guy. He doesn’t have somebody who can come in when he makes a mistake. He’s that guy. He’s got to take control of the offense, take control of the team. We’ve got to be able to stand behind him and count on him to get the job done.”

He’s done it before, albeit sparingly.

Boone has appeared in 22 games over the past two seasons, completing 79-of-148 (.534) passes for 829 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also run for 211 yards and six touchdowns. Boone made his only career start against Virginia last season, when he led the Blue Devils to a 42-17 win by throwing for 212 yards and four touchdowns.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Boone has a great combination of arm strength and speed, but that he is still looking for more consistency from Boone. In the spring game, Boone completed 18-of-30 passes for 273 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"He can extend plays with his running ability and his quickness and his strength," Cutcliffe said. "He's a 235-pound guy that's very quick. I haven't had a lot of guys that have a cannon as an arm. He's got that. He's got incredible range when he extends a play. He's a guy that's a playmaker.

"The thing that I want to see Anthony do, he knows it, our conversation was about consistency," Cutcliffe said. "I don't want Anthony Boone to be a 55 percent completion guy. I expect him to be at least 60 percent. But we're hunting that midrange there. If Anthony can accomplish that and do all those exciting things that he does, he could be a very special player at quarterback."

Boone said he has minimalized a lot of his mental errors and "taken steps in the right direction" to being the team's starting quarterback, including knowing his reads, making the right checks, and getting the ball to the open receiver.

“People say I look calm out there,” Boone said. “This is my fourth year here with this offense, and this coaching staff and some of the people around me. I’m just very comfortable with where I am. I don’t have to prove who I am. I’ve kind of done that. I just have to go out there and be myself and play the game I love and I’ve wanted to do my whole life.”