DEPTH CHART (expected starters in italics):
- Anthony Boone, R-Jr.
- Brandon Connette, R-Jr.
- Parker Boehme, Fr.
- Thomas Sirk, R-Fr. (injured)
- Mackenzie Sovereign, Jr. (Walk-on)
- Robert Collins, Jr. (Walk-on)
- Quay Chambers, Fr.
- Sean Renfree (graduated, NFL)
- Parker Boehme (early enrollee)
- Quay Chambers
It's tough to replace a guy like Sean Renfree. Renfree threw for more than 3000 yards and completed 67 percent of his passes. He led a Duke offense that set a single-season school record by scoring 410 points. He holds 17 passing records at Duke. The Blue Devils aren't going to try and replace Renfree this year though. Coaches are adapting the offense to suit Anthony Boone.
Boone picked up experience last season in twelve games, and coaches said he can make all the throws. A big difference from Renfree is Boone's aggressiveness. He likes to look downfield and go for the big play. This offseason coaches have worked with him to understand when it is appropriate to try and hit a home run and when he needs to take the short option. Coaches like his throwing mechanics and mobility. They expect him to improve on his 53 percent completion percentage this year.
His mobility allows the offense to use the zone-read more often. At 6'0" 230 lbs., Boone has the size to mix it up and protect himself when he gets hit. He has said he isn't afraid of contact but knows he can't run over everyone in the ACC. While Renfree ran the zone read, he wasn't the threat Boone is with the ball.
Boone's presence has also provided more interesting wrinkles on offense with Swiss-army knife quarterback Brandon Connette. Connette did a little bit of everything last year and was expected to do the same this season. A spring injury to Thomas Sirk could change those plans some, but coaches said they are still going to use Connette similar to last season. The difference this year is that Connette has the full offensive package available since he and Boone run the same plays. Both of them are likely to end up in the backfield at the same time.
The Sirk injury could be a problem though. After Connette and Boone, the depth is not there. Sirk was the depth. Trainers haven't set a timetable for his return. That means true freshman Parker Boehme is filling the third quarterback spot. The dual-threat quarterback enrolled in January but missed most of spring practice while recovering from toe surgery. Coaches said he and Connette are splitting some of the QB reps in camp. Because Connette already has experience with the offense, he doesn't need as many snaps to get comfortable right now.
What needs to happen in 2013:
Both Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette have to stay healthy this year. Behind those two, the depth is untested. For these two, that may mean running out-of-bounds instead of taking on a defensive back downfield.
As a passer, Boone needs to pick his spots. He is aggressive with the ball, but he has to understand when to take chances. The charismatic QB has built good relationships with his receivers this offseason that have made them comfortable together on the field. Coaches sad they are expecting Boone's completion percentage to go up this year and think a percentage in the low-to-mid 60's is doable.
The hype all offseason has been about the running game. With Boone, Connette and four talented backs, the hype makes sense. This is still a passing team, but now the team can grind down the clock while keeping guys fresh with depth. The aggressive runs will help open up the downfield passing game.