DURHAM, N.C. - With the Blue Devils coming off its best season in nearly two decades, head coach David Cutcliffe and the coaching staff will return 46 lettermen for the 2013 campaign. Quarterback Anthony Boone helped the Blue Devils score a school single-season record 410 points in 2012 and recently sat down with GoDuke.com.
GoDuke.com: What is the atmosphere in the locker room like at this time of the year as the team goes through off-season conditioning?
Anthony Boone: The atmosphere is kind of laid back and fun, but at the same time, when it's time to work, it's serious work. In the fall, it's more serious all the time and you don't really joke around until you get outside the Yoh [Football Center]. Right now, we're cracking jokes and talking about last year here and there. There's a lot of intensity and high expectations for what we need to accomplish. It's laid back, but at the same time, we're focused and there's a lot of positive energy.
GoDuke.com: With National Signing Day taking place recently, what have you learned about the latest additions to the program?
AB: From what we heard, we have a pretty good class coming in. My expectations are that we'll teach them how we work and show them the way we do things. Coach Cut[cliffe] says we always indoctrinate you to the way we do things. If you catch on quick and you make plays, then you're going to be out there making big plays for us.
GoDuke.com: What do you remember about your Signing Day experience and transition to college football?
AB: It's crazy because when you're first getting recruited, you feel like the man. Signing Day, you get to represent where you're going to school. I wore my Duke stuff all day and I felt like the big guy on campus. When you get here, you feel like a little fish in a big pond. It's definitely a transition, and some guys handle it better than others. It's never what you expect until you actually experience it.
GoDuke.com: What excites you the most about upcoming spring practice?
AB: Just getting out there and competing; getting a lot of reps. I'm trying to solidify myself as the No. 1 guy. Just seeing some of the young guys that didn't play last year come out and get a chance to come out and play, some guys on defense. I'm really excited about our offense because we're going to mature and expand. We have a lot of returners, we have a lot of talent everywhere. I'm looking to shock a lot of people and see how far our offense can really go and how far our team can really go.
GoDuke.com: When you look back on the three years you spent with Sean Renfree, what did you learn from him that will benefit you moving forward?
AB: I learned how to be the person that is called the quarterback, outside the Yoh and inside the Yoh, and how to watch film. He went about his business. Sean's a low-profile guy, and that's what a quarterback has to be. You can't be too flashy. I learned how to be respectful and implement yourself in the community. He's very accountable and he's also a big student of the game, which I've learned how to do. I've learned to watch film and to focus in on the tape, and that's helped me out.
GoDuke.com: What impressed you the most about Renfree's career at Duke?
AB: He was the first quarterback that Coach Cut recruited, so you could say that he's the grandfather of the new Duke Football that people see today.
GoDuke.com: Is there any added pressure for you as the elder statesman of the quarterback unit?
AB: I wouldn't call it pressure, but I would call it expectations. Pressure is what you make of it, and I'm very confident in myself and my teammates around me. I'm very comfortable in our offense. I don't really feel a lot of pressure because there are a lot of guys around me who believe in me, even on defense. I know Coach Cut and Coach [Kurt] Roper have put me in a good position to win games and to be successful.
GoDuke.com: What did you learn from your experience at the Belk Bowl?
AB: The Belk Bowl was obviously different because nobody on our team has been to a bowl. It was a lot of fun. The events were great; the hotel and the hotel staff were great. It's something that you really can't explain in a short time because it was a week's worth of a lot of fun and being around your teammates and building camaraderie with the coaches and the coaches' families. We definitely want to go back, and we definitely want to go back and leave with a 'W'.
GoDuke.com: What did the additional practices prior to the bowl game do for the program as a whole?
AB: The extra time was definitely beneficial. At that point, it was like we had been representing this team for two weeks - we're ready to play. Going into bowl week, it was a lot of fun. I would love to do it again and again. Those extra practices, by the end, we were like, 'Can we play already?' I'm from Charlotte so we practiced at a high school that's 10 minutes from my house. So I had a couple friends come out and a couple coaches come out. It was a lot of fun.
GoDuke.com: What are the key factors to continuing Duke's on-field success established in 2012?
AB: The biggest thing that I've been harping on and the coaches have been harping on is just not being satisfied with last year's season. Yes, we won six games and went to a bowl, but that's not enough for the type of players we have and the team we've built. Six games isn't enough, so we're looking for eight, nine, 10 games this year. Obviously, we know how to win, but we're trying to push more in the back half of the season. We're going to try to keep pushing and hopefully end up in Charlotte at the ACC Championship game.