Position Preview: Quarterbacks

Previewing the 2011 season position by position. First up is a look under center where Duke has one of the top signal callers in the ACC as the starter. There's also quite a bit of quality depth.


  • None

  • Anthony Boone (Redshirt)

There's virtually no change in the depth chart from a season ago. Renfree will be the primary quarterback, but with a history of knee problems and the propensity of ACC Defenses to harbor NFL caliber pass rushers in bulk, Duke is one blown assignment from a back-up stepping in. Still, head coach David Cutcliffe has to like his depth chart under center at this point.

Renfree is an academic senior and is entering his fourth year in the program. Unlike his predecessor, Thaddeus Lewis, Renfree has trained in just one offensive system throughout his tenure. A season ago he completed 61.4 percent of his passes and finished third in the league with more than 3,100 yards passing on the season. Still, there were some holes in his game. Most notable was the 17 interceptions thrown - a number that quite simply cannot be repeated if Duke is to have a hope of earning a post-season berth. Luckily Renfree threw just a pair of picks over the final five games (both against North Carolina in the season finale) as the Duke offense averaged 28.8 points per game.

Meanwhile Duke has made a concentrative effort to prepare Connette for more responsibilities this year. A season ago Connette was a sure bet to run the ball when inserted into the lineup. And he ran it very well, scoring eight touchdowns during his 78 carries for 321 yards. But when asked to diversify his game and lead Duke through the air, the California native struggled, completing just 10-of-22 passes for 125 yards. 40 of those yards came on one play against Virginia. However a full off-season program spent with Cutcliffe and Roper working on mechanics and reading the field should result in a more diversified look to the "Connette-package".

For the last year Cutcliffe has been high on redshirt freshman Anthony Boone. The Charlotte native has, by far, the strongest arm of the group looked like a tailback when forced out of the pocket in the Spring Game. After a full year on the Duke strength program, Boone is listed at 6'0 and 240 pounds so it's no surprise he led Blue Devil quarterbacks in both the squat lift (445 lbs.) and power clean (280 lbs.) during the program's post-spring weightlifting evaluation. Prior to Duke he passed for more than 9,000 yards in high school.

What Needs To Happen in 2011:
The answer is simple. Duke needs Sean Renfree to play as he did over the final five weeks of the 2010 season. That means staying healthy and being smart with the football. When Renfree is subbed out, the Blue Devils will need Connette to prove he's ready to run the offense instead of just running on offense. Look for the Blue Devils to give both players ample time on the field with the first team throughout the preseason as well as the first few games. Cutcliffe indicated as much when he met with the media this summer.

"You have to have at least your top two guys ready to go at any given moment. We're one injury from Brandon being called on to run the team full time."

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