DURHAM — For three seasons, Anthony Boone mostly watched Sean Renfree run Duke’s offense. Saturday, the redshirt junior will call the shots when the Blue Devils open the season against N.C. Central.
The Weddington native has just one career start, passing for four touchdowns in a 42-17 blowout over Virginia last season. Boone, 6-foot-0, 230 pounds, spoke about what it’s like to battle jitters and open the season as a starting quarterback.
Q: What’s it like to prepare for your first season as a starter?
A. You’ve got to be much more accountable. I’ve had to learn to really call in the troops and not snap on guys and know how to praise each guy. That was a big transition for me, being able to have that authority to actually do it. I wanted to have that last year and I actually have it now. Having to know when to crack the whip, when to help guys along and at the same time keeping my focus as a leader is a lot, but I’m definitely ready for it.
Q: You’ve started before, but how different will it be to start the season opener at Wallace-Wade?
A. I don’t think I’ll feel any rush at all. I’ve been there for opening days and the bowl game last year in Charlotte, so I know what the atmosphere will be like. Honestly, I’ll be going through more emotions because it’ll be our first time against somebody else since December. I wouldn’t expect to have a crazy overload of emotions because I have to keep an even keel as the starting quarterback.
Q: As a dual-threat quarterback, do you feel that opens up the offense more than in recent years?
A. Absolutely. Defenses now have to be more accountable for the potential of me running out of the pocket and different looks on each play.
Q: When do you decide to use your legs to extend plays?
A. You can’t really coach or plan for that, but basically when the pocket breaks down or I can’t do anything else. (He laughs.) It’s just kind of a situation where you see how the play is developing and make a decision. Coach (David Cutcliffe) has told me a few different situations where he wants me to extend plays like third and long, two minute drills or late in the games to avoid a sack. It’s more about applying it to game situations and knowing when to do it rather than trying to force anything.
Q: What quarterback, past or present, is your inspiration?
A. Any dual-threat quarterback really. I watch guys like Russell Wilson, (Robert Griffin III) or Cam Newton to see what they do and how they exploit defenses. That really helps me to learn what to do in those situations.
Q: Those quarterbacks are different from the “run first” dual-threat quarterbacks. Do you view yourself as a passer first?
A. Absolutely. I don’t really want to run unless I have to. My job is to get the ball in other guys’ hands, so that’s my biggest priority. I can run if I have to and help the team, but I definitely feel like I’m more of a passing quarterback than a run first type.
Q: What’s it been like to see the transformation in the Duke football program since you arrived in 2010?
A. One of the biggest things is the fact that we’re more recognizable. People now see us as a good team and not just another sport outside of some of the more popular sports here. Duke fans are more excited about football season and we have a lot more respect.
That’s spread outside of just Durham and to the state, which can only help our program. I’m excited to see where that takes us. Coach Cut has been a huge part of that, but we have to continue putting a good product on the field and continue to change the culture and write our own story.
Smith: 919-829-8941; Twitter: @RCorySmith