Duke’s 100-snap scrimmage builds on versatility and endurance

Duke utility quarterback Brandon Connette rushes the ball against Cincinnati in the 2012 Belk Bowl.

DURHAM, N.C. – With 19 days to go before the Duke Blue Devils football team kicks off its 2013 season against the NC Central Eagles in the Bull City Gridiron Classic, coach David Cutcliffe and his staff have maintained the team’s workouts at a high tempo and within a structured manner.

There is a method and reason for every move that this team makes on and off the field as it prepares to improve on one of its best seasons in recent history.

Cutcliffe is not only working to minimize preseason injuries while maximizing the opportunity to educate all players on the depth chart at every position, but to also provide versatility in the team’s play-calling abilities when inserting different personnel at a moment’s notice.

With the graduation of quarterback Sean Renfree, one of the most accomplished pivots in school and Atlantic Coast Conference history, many would think that Duke will take some time to reestablish the same leadership in that position.

Well, not if redshirt junior quarterbacks Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette have anything to say about it.

Connette completed 14-of-21 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown while rushing for a game-high 67 yards and another score to highlight the Blue Devils’ 100-snap scrimmage that took place on Monday evening in Wallace Wade Stadium.

“What we did was look at a lot of different personnel groupings,” Cutcliffe said.

“We took portions of our starters and mixed in twos and mixed in freshmen. We wanted to see how people responded, best versus best.  All the way through the scrimmage we did that, blending in our youngest players.  We have over a hundred snaps to evaluate on tape.  It was good and hot.  It was in the nineties.  It was a good test all around.  For the most part, we came out healthy.”

Connette, who used his exceptional ability to scramble and rush the ball, darted 47 yards to set up his own four-yard touchdown run, compiled 219 yards of total offense and hooked up with wideout Anthony Nash for a 15-yard touchdown pass.

Boone put in his share of reps a well, finishing the scrimmage 12-of-25 through the air for 139 yards with two interceptions.

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Other notable offensive performances that took place in the scrimmage played one of the hottest days of the summer, freshman quarterback Parker Boehme connected on eight-of-nine throws for 84 yards including a 22-yard scoring toss to Ryan Smith.

Smith finished the night with a game-high five receptions for 84 yards while Nash had four catches for 41 yards.

“I think everybody saw Ryan Smith,” Cutcliffe said.

“He has short-area quickness that’s incredible.  He’s going to make plays.”

Max McCaffrey added four receptions for 42 yards while freshman running back Joseph Ajeigbe gained 49 yards on eight attempts.

Defensively, redshirt freshman Devon Edwards and freshman Breon Borders registered interceptions while redshirt freshman Michael Westray recovered one fumble.

Redshirt freshman defensive end Allen Jackson posted two tackles for loss including one quarterback sack.